Fashion vs Style: Introduction, Outline and Definition
Clothes and humans: a 170,000 year-long love story
Before we talk about fashion vs style, let us start with a tiny introduction about clothes. It is a well-established fact that clothes have been part of human existence for a very long time. Surprisingly, it looks like the thought of them was not an instant occurence in the early human mind: according to the latest scientific evidence, humans started wearing clothes ”only” 170,000 years ago. If you want to read more about how scientists drew such a fascinating conclusion thanks to some remains discovered in a Moroccan cave, there is a Guardian article that sums it up very nicely.
I have absolutely no doubt that even back then, early humans cared about how their clothes looked. Maybe not in the same way we do today, but the idea of looking better must have been there. Doing things better is human instinct; without it, we would not be enjoying the comfortable life we are enjoying today.
Clothes, then, fulfil two main roles: practical and aesthetic. Sometimes, we wear them to protect ourselves from the elements; other times, to look good even when it comes at the expense of our comfort. Ideally, we want to wear clothes that are both comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.
Outline of article’s content
In this article, we concern ourselves mainly with the aesthetic domain. As a matter of fact, we will:
- Define what fashion and style are
- provide an extensive analysis of fashion vs style
- Read why we should choose style over fashion
- Focus on style and some of its elements
- Have a final say on fashion vs style
Before we start, please note that I am not a fashion expert. However, nobody needs to be one to be fashionable or stylish, as you will conclude by the end of this article.
We can all look great as long as we think we do.
Fashion vs style: definition and comparison
Have you ever wondered about the difference between fashion and style? I haven’t – until I decided to write this article. We take the words we hear every day for granted. In this section; however, ”fashion” and ”style” are not going to be.
Definition of fashion
Accoding to Cambridge dictionary, fashion is ”a style that is popular at a particular time, especially in clothes, hair, make-up, etc.” In other words, fashion is like an ocean wave: it gains momentum, reaches a peak and crashes on the shore of obsolescence. This image portrays pretty much everything related to popular culture. However, not all ocean waves are created equal, and some of them last much longer than others. In fact, the average lifespan of a fashion trend is estimated to be around a year or two at max, while others may last for several years or even more than a decade (see denim jeans).
Definition of style
Style, the dictionary puts it, is ”a particular shape or design, especially of a person’s hair, clothes, or a piece of furniture.” The definition has a strong individualistic scent to it. There is heavy emphasis on particularity and idiosyncracy.
That’s right. Style is about you. It is what you do with clothes. It does not start and end at the clothes themselves. Style is an entire process: from the moment you pick them, how you match them and what time and place you wear them to the rationale behind wearing certain kinds to the exclusion of others, the statement you think they make and how you expect people to react to what they see.
Fashion vs style: a comparison
As you can already tell, there is so much depth and complexity to be appreciated in style, which cannot exist in fashion. Contrary to popular belief, style is different from fashion not only in the sense that it is more closely associated with your personality as an individual, but it is also an umbrella term for it . Simply put, fashion is part of style, and a very small part at that. Also, fashion is usually the most recent work of a designer’s style.
Now, let me ask you a question: who will be wearing the clothes you will be buying, you or the designer?
Of course it will be you. But will the clothes reflect you or the designer?
This is the style vs fashion choice the title of the article calls to attention: are you going to choose yourself or the designer? Are you going to be yourself and affirm your peronality and self-love, or wear someone else’s mask? Just Why should you choose style instead of fashion?
The next section answers all these questions in detail.
Fashion vs Style: analysis, comparison and evaluation
Fashion for impression, style for expression
A lot of people buy fashion with the purpose of pleasing others in mind. While we all like attention in one way or another, paying a lot of money for it is not worth it because, after all, aesthetic tastes vary and there are no aesthetically right or wrong clothes.
You can get away with impressing others even when they do not like your clothes because they know that they are designer’s, but bear in mind that they are impressed by whoever designed them, not you. You are there like a walking, breathing, money spending mannequin advertising someone’s work and people will notice, but it is the not the kind of attention that is inherently rewarding. Feeding the need to please others will feed on your confidence in choosing what is best for you.
If you had any aesthetic soul, you would have sold it to the designer.
Style, on the other hand, is all about self-expression, and does it not sound exciting just by the thought of it! Does it not excite you to break the communication barrier for your soul to be able to speak through your clothes? It sounds almost telepathic to be able to communicate a certain message to a stranger on the street without uttering a single word! Clothes are a superpower, and style is the gateway to it.
When you choose style over fashion, clothes become part of your personality, and people whose personality matches yours end up being drawn to you. That’s the right attention.
Style is a magical magnet, and you can’t activate the magic within it unless you dress to express, not impress.
Fashion is a gold digger, Style is a keeper
Fashion is, as Kanye West said, a ”triflin’ friend indeed”. Your relationship with Fashion has an expiry date. It is not going to last. Worse, you will be left penniless by the end of it, especially if Fashion asks for designer clothes all the time.
To put it bluntly, fashion is expensive. Even if you are wealthy, fashion is not going to look as glamourous past its peak as it was before it. Your wardrobe will be full of clothes that are no longer ”valued” because their worth only lasted as long as the trend.
Style lasts much longer, and even more so if the material is of good quality. You can’t miss the irony that it is because stylish clothes are not necessarily famous or designer that makes them timeless. You can also be stylish without having to spend lots of money, and your wardrobe will thank you for sparing it indigestion as you can mix and match the same stylish clothes to create several different outfits. It is what you get when you think style and have a good rationale behind your choices.
Fashion can be bought, Style can only be earned
You can buy fashion, but you can never buy style. Since the latest trends make everyone look the same, what is the point of caring about what we wear at all? If we all look like workers (no disrespect intended) wearing the same uniform, how can we stand out from one another and what reaction could we possibly stir in the eye of the beholder?
The whole point behind caring about how we look is to provide an external replica of who we are from the inside. Only style can achieve this.
Fashion is the latest, but style is the best
Latest does not always mean best. A lot of customers are eager to buy the latest fashion based on the false belief that it will make them look better. In the world of fashion and art in general, later is not better and so latest is not best. Designers ”update”, not ”upgrade” their works. Indeed, in other fields like technology, latest almost always means best because engineers upgrade a product’s components to improve performance. Clothes do not fulfill any function apart from the aesthetics and protection from the elements.
Unless designers become engineers and start producing clothes that can teach you several languages, drag you to the gym more often and fly you to any part of the world in lightening speed, there is no need to buy the latest fashion.
As we fairly alluded to in the previous sections, style is yours and yours forever. Style is not anyone’s slave: not a trend’s and not even a human’s. Style has a life of its own and hops from one personality to another, taking different shapes and forms. It acclimatises itself to the beliefs and attitudes of its human host — and goes on to outlive both trends and humans.
Style Power: if it chooses you, it changes you forever
The painful transformation from human to Style-man/-woman
It all starts with The Word. It crawls up to your mind and does something to you. What it does exactly, no one knows. That night, sleep will leave you to it. It will leave you to The Word. You try to sleep but your mind’s temperature is boiling-high and it does not stop speaking to you. That word again!
You wince and open your eyes. Sunlight crept through your bedroom window. You are surprised you somehow fell asleep in spite of such a horrible headache. You think nothing of it, but when you go to work, you start noticing things you never noticed before; as you lay your eyes on people, their clothes speak to you! This woman is wearing red because she is single! That man’s hair is styled in a backward direction to show off his prominent forehead, a sign of masculinity! How are you getting all these ideas!
There is that word again! You can hear it — why?
That’s right. Short yet powerful, why is the word that transforms you into Style-Man or Style-Woman. If you want style, you must have a rationale behind what you wear, where you wear it, which occasion you wear it for, etc.
In the next section, we will explore some elements that are relevant to style, all of which are a product of our secret weapon — why?
Elements of Style: The Questioning Method
Personal value statement
Why would someone so wealthy buy stylish yet very ordinary, cheap looking clothes? He or she must be either stingy or humble. I prefer to believe it is the second.
Stand out or blend in with the environment
if you want to be noticed and are in the mood to be approached by others, wear clothes that will make you stand out. For example, let us say it is winter and the sky is grey and so is everything else. It is rainy. You still want to stand out.
You will need an umbrella for the rain, but definitely not any umbrella. Go for a red umbrella. Even better, match your red umbrella with your red trousers. If you are a woman, red would not be ideal because the colour is heavily associated with your sex and so it will not be as interesting. A dark yellow umbrella would be a much better option.
If you want to be left alone and blend in with the environment, wearing a black or grey coat with jeans will make you almost invisible — it is what most people wear during this time of the year.
Why would you choose a certain colour for your jacket? Why would you match it with white chinos instead of jeans? Does your outfit match your shoes? Why would you go through the hassle of buying shoes with laces, which you have to tie every single time, instead of slip on shoes, saving you all the pain?
Choosing what to reveal and how much you reveal of it is important. Nudity does not necessarily mean ”naked” – but most of the time it does. For example, if a man wants to highlight his physique, it will be culturally more acceptable to go out wearing a compression shirt instead of wearing nothing (shirtless).
If this man wants to emphasize his strength slightly more, he will wear a compression t-shirt so that his biceps, triceps, and wrists are visible. For athletic women, wearing a crop top would expose their lean features like toned abs and slim waist. If a woman wants to make her long legs more visible, she would go for a mini skirt. And so on.
Remember, you are now wearing clothes for a reason. Why would you wear a T-shirt with random words that do not make sense to you? If you strongly believe in peace, you will wear a T-shirt with the peace sign on it. If you are strongly attached to the city where you were born, you will wear a shirt that has the city’s symbol or landmark on it.
All in all, as long as you keep asking ”why?”, Style will find you, and you will become It. The style elements above do not come near covering all the basics, but they are a good start!
Final word on fashion vs style: remember to love yourself
Style must prevail over fashion
By now you have probably realised that to choose style is to love yourself; fashion to hate yourself.
In a fashion vs style battle, the second must always prevail because it is the only way you can assert your unique personality. The more you assert who you are in the way you dress, the more convinced you become of the beautiful human being that is you.
For some of you, it may be uncomfortable at first, but you will get used to it. I was there. I felt awkward when Style chose me as its host, but after some time I got used to it. This initial awkwardness characterises everything you do in life for the first time; the first walk, the first kiss, the first time you choose to wear clothes that reflect your core, etc.
Fashion is not evil, but remember…
Fashion is not bad, but if you do choose it, it must speak to you. It must be part of your style, not the other way around. You are in control, not some designer. Do not abandon who you are for somone who does not even know you, how you look, or what looks good on you; when it looks good on you, and your motivation behind wearing it in the first place.
Self-hate starts with letting other people’s choices lead you, and what else can you expect from doing so but loving others more and yourself less? Having more confidence in others than you do in yourself? Believing that a designer’s aesthetic choices are ”superior” to yours?
We are what we do, and it backfires. It always does.
Do not let Fashion wear you. You wear it, and you make it part of your style.
Now go out there and be awesome!
What do you think about fashion vs style? Do you have any other ideas about fashion or style? Is the difference between style and fashion really that big? Are there any other connections between the two that are missing in this article?
Please share what you think in the comments below! Thanks for reading!