by Mary Francis Ivey
Ladies and fellas, all—this article is for you. I suspect you’ve been told not to mix black and brown, or gold and silver, or someone has tried to convince you “it” is what everyone is wearing. I am also suspicious that, at some point, you’ve felt you “can’t pull that off,” X doesn’t match Y, or something is out of style.
But in the words of Diana Vreeland: “A little bad taste is like a nice splash of paprika. We all need a splash of bad taste … I think we could use more of it. No taste is what I’m against.” Vreeland should know, she is the former editor for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, adviser to the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the “true gold standard of fashion and style credibility.”
I am advocating exercising our right to be stylish because I agree with Vreeland—style is the trademark of originality, and I believe unwaveringly that we are all unique. For an institution of free-thinking people, an overwhelming part of our culture is based on fads and fleeting trends.
Trends are not inherently bad—not really, that is. Fashion trends are a bit like cultural resurrections. They aren’t entirely original, but they’re exciting, fresh and can help us feel a part of something. Not only are trends compelling, they can bring unexpected or difficult-to-find items to the forefront, making them more available to fashionistas and laypeople alike. I’m looking at you, accessory-collar-moment-of-2013 (for gentlemen: return of the printed tie)!
What I am concerned about is those times trends actually make us feel distant from something instead. Dressing by the book, if your wallet is stagnant and you aren’t buying into the next big thing, you are being left behind. The problem is this kind of dressing subtracts the most important part of fashion: the wearer. People are more than the sum of what they wear, but denying your right to personal style is a disservice to your personality.
Certainly you need not dress for the sole purpose of standing out, but I submit to you this: Expressing your personality in the clothes you select is worthwhile. If not for your own satisfaction, then for the respect you’ll receive from others. We’ve graduated from dress codes and uniforms; now, as we declare to the world who we are, it is time to ask ourselves what we really want to wear. If you believe you need fashion advice, here is my best: Take a day off from what everyone else is wearing and indulge in a something you authentically enjoy!