The Language of Style
Being fashionable and being stylish mean two different things. The ideas behind both overlap, but in the end the difference is obvious. Style will always be favored over fashion. It’s personal. Style has a way of saying everything in the most subtle ways and is interpreted differently every time. It never matters if someone “gets it” or where you get it, how are you wearing it? The story behind how one acquired a piece has something to do with how one finds ways to wear it. They could be pieces inherited from your Grandmother’s wardrobe, that strapless silk champagne knee length dress you finally decided to buy, or shoes found at the thrift barely worn with the 50% off sticker. These items have character and stories in the material whether they’re new or old.
Until recently I would ask people to give me three words to describe their style. I interviewed Joe Jarvis, a writer and one half of the blog Someone Else, I asked him to describe his style and in a very eloquent way he told me no:
“I don't think about what I wear in literal terms. I was reminded of this while reading the following in "Writing Fashion in Early Modern Italy: From Sprezzatura to Satire":
By the "animatedness of clothes," I mean how memories and the emotional charge clothing produces are materialized through representation. Objects, then, have both a social life and an emotional life."
I like certain garments because they resonate emotionally with me. They have some kind of charge that I pick up on. I understand that what I wear is inevitably directed at others. As Barthes said, "No one dresses innocently." But I don't know that I dress primarily for the benefit of others. If I were the last person on Earth, I like to think that I would still find joy in a blazer with a Milanese buttonhole, or a turtleneck draped with gold chains, or selvedge, and that I would still dress in those things to scavenge for my dinner.”
I owed Joe an apology. I learned asking people to describe their personal style is essentially asking them to describe who they are as a person. I don’t know a lot of people who can answer that honestly because you never stop evolving as a person and nor does your style. Everyday your style becomes something else so why limit it to a few words?