New York women are among the most fashionable women on the face of the earth. They are also among the least stylish. Confused? If so, you aren’t alone. You’re just among the many people who confuse stylish with fashionable.
To have a personal style is to have a statement you want to make with your clothing. You use your body as a palette and try to make your outfit into a work of art. Thought goes into a personal style. There are three “yous,” you as you see yourself, you as others see you, and you as you want others to see you. The aim of an impeccable personal style should be to bring these three yous as close together as possible. Questions to ask include: does this outfit match the personality I’m trying to convey? Do I have the attitude and mindset to pull it off? Is it showing the right amount of originality, yet is it not so out there as to become a freakshow? A good personal style takes into account the right amount of risk vs. safety for any occasion. A good personal style also takes into account what works for your body, especially your weight, skin tone, height and muscle tone.
Which brings us to fashion. There is a reason why the term “dedicated follower of fashion” exists. Because being fashionable is strictly about following. It doesn’t matter if the trend is ugly, if it doesn’t go with your personality, if it’s not flattering to your body shape, if the color that is in season does not go with you at all….all that’s irrelevant when you’re trying to be fashionable. Fashion is about checking your mind in at the door and slavishly keeping up with what other people are wearing. You’ll rock the ugliest, hard to match handbag if it has the right name splashed on it. You will rock Audrey Hepburn skinny jeans despite having a pear shape. You will put on the latest revealing low cut jeans despite having huge muffin tops. You will wear ballet slippers to work even though as an adult working in an office it makes you look like a child no one should take seriously (then you cry sexism).
For example, look at the dress at the top of the post. That’s an empire dress. It’s a high waisted dress that starts right under the breasts. I don’t know a single straight man that likes those dresses, and if there is one, I’m willing to bet he’s partially in the closet. Men may find women beautiful in spite of such dresses, but I’ve yet to meet a guy attracted to them. They look like maternity dresses and give even the best bodies the most unflattering or at best bland bell-like shape. Yet almost every woman in NY had these dresses over the summer, whether they were fat, skinny, short, tall, shapely or thin.
At the height of the empire dress craze, I saw a lot of women looking frumpy and bell-shaped in the big billowy while walking around in nasty flip-flops. Anytime I saw a guy try to point out how unflattering the whole look was, I’d hear the same indignant response: “You don’t know anything about fashion! This is what they’re wearing on the Paris runways/in Soho/in Hollywood!” as if that alone was a good enough reason, or as if the fact that it was fashionable somehow refuted the accusation that it was ugly. Basically, the fact that everyone else was wearing it was its own justification. None of the NY women would ever try to address the meat of the actual critique, which was that the dresses made even good bodies look bad and bad bodies look worse. Or that the flip-flops looked ratty made the bottoms of their feet black after riding the train and walking around Manhattan. Even worse, they didn’t realize they were ignoring the actual crux of the criticism. Their critical faculties checked out at the words “It’s in fashion now” and proceeded no further. Popularity is its own justification in the minds of the fashionable.
A stylish person cares about what flatters their skin tone, hair color and body type, regardless if it goes against what’s in fashion. To me, it shows a great ability to balance individuality with conformity, a good grasp of their body’s strengths and weaknesses, and most of all, intelligence and a strong sense of self. The image they project is congruent with the image they are trying to project, which is also congruent with how they view themselves. All of which conveys great knowledge of self and social intelligence. A big turn on.
I used to not get the big deal about Jackie O., but after grasping the difference between fashion and style, I realize Jackie O. was not overrated after all, she was stylish. And currently the most stylish celebrity to me is Nicole Kidman. I did an extensive google image search on her to find her in an empire dress or flip-flops and I couldn’t find it. She is always more conscious about being true to her personal style rather than to what’s fashionable. It actually makes her look hotter than she actually is. She knows how to highlight assets, hide flaws and convey taste better than any female celebrity out there I think. Cate Blanchett to me exemplifies this trait too, but not as well as Kidman.
Even dressed down she’s always stylish and playing to her strengths:
I was trying to think of an example of slavish fashion follower for contrast, but honestly, there are too many to pick just one or isolate the worst offender. Suggestions are totally welcome of course, so feel free to provide them in the comments section. But here’s one I can think of offhand, Siena Miller:
Damn bitch, just quit it already!
Sienna Miller rocking the Uggs, another “fashionable” item a few years back that NY women somehow couldn’t realize were ugly as hell. They’re called “Ugh!”s for a reason.
Oh hell no. Just. No.
Technically every item she owns is currently in fashion at the time she is wearing it (the Uggs photo is from 4 years ago). People call her fashion-impaired but that’s wrong. She’s style impaired. She has no idea what looks good on her or how to slap it together. She just knows what the latest trends are. And even worse, she seems to be a dedicated follower of hipster trends to boot.
Sienna, you’ve got a NY state of mind all right, babe.