We are closing in on another year. Broadcasts and publications will be rounding up their end of the year lists, compiling the good and bad in music and film, listing the Hollywood news and the memorable, historical events of the year. It's a nice reminder of the year and a way to instigate conversation.
But it can also cause you to pause and reflect on your own year. Much like a birthday, the New Year seems to only scour up the feeling that another year has passed and what have we done with ourselves. (At least when a birthday occurs, we are treated to gifts).
As you take stock of the year's highs and lows and the things you accomplished, you'll have sensory memories. You'll recall a song, you'll know the mise en scene, hear the exact words and if you're lucky, you'll know what you were wearing.
These clothing items were this year's items-- whether they were trendy or not. They might not make it into your 2009 wardrobe. The items you wore on those best 2008 summer days time and time again will look boring next summer; you'll want new trendy stuff anyway.
The items you're wearing now as you make winter memories will eventually be tucked away into the depths of your closet. You'll claim to wear them again and to cherish them equally as much next year, but come winter 2009, you'll pull them out and they won't look the same. The sweater that was like a security blanket and that lucky charm item might look pilled and worn out in the light of '09.
Even if any of the items you wore this year make it to next winter, that item's time in your life is short. To keep its memory alive and the memories -- good or bad -- that you made in those clothes, it helps to have a keen sense of style. And, if you can't recall doing anything else in 2008, you could at least let this be the year to determine exactly what is "just your style."
Those who don't think a defined sense of style is relevant to who they are should try and think back. Those who experienced the 1980s in all its glory, with big hair and tacky trends, likely had a defined sense of style and a good recollection of their life. Recall the times as a child when you finally became aware of clothing. Once you were choosing your own daily outfits as a toddler or buying clothes in junior high, you had a rhyme and reason to the choices you made. Clothing choices were like a template that defined who you were to the others around you.
Easy Come, Easy Go
Once free from the eerie microcosm of high school, we don't need to dress for anyone, so we don't. And in that sense, we lose a piece of ourselves-- including all those memories.
But that's not to say that a defined sense of style has to be difficult. It's not even about being fashionable. It is actually so Zen -- just a state of being that a person obtains once they've determined who they are. I hate to use the idea that style can be achieved once a person has "found themselves" because it makes me gag. If it wasn't such a clichéd phrase used by 20-somethings looking to justify their lack of direction, it might be accurate.
Without a sense of self, you end up walking into a store, trying on a hodge-podge of items and purchasing gobs of clothing with no rhyme or reason. You'll do this again and again annually, never really loving what you own, never wanting to wear it more than a handful of times and never really gaining pleasure from shopping or having pride in what you wear. With a closet exploding with options, you end up staring at the masses still believing you have nothing to wear. Without a sense of style, there's nothing there but a bunch of stuff.
It's important to know that personal style and being "fashionable" aren't synonymous. A person's style can be fashionable, but it doesn't have to be. In fact, the "fashionable" style is just one of the many genres available to a person without a sense of style. Western wear, Goth, punk, preppy, rock-a-billy, bohemian, vintage sophisticated... essentially any of those outfits that defined a clique in high school could qualify as a certain style, but there are others that don't have such a strong definition or label. That's because style is as unique as every person. Chances are if you haven't already established yourself as one of those stand-out styles, you won't now. The average housewife who wears Mom jeans and Polos probably won't rush out and buy corsets a la pin-up style or go modern boho like Kate Moss.
But that's fine because that housewife's style is the mom look. Your style doesn't have to move people to rush out and copy your look. It should just work like a personal trademark that doesn't requiring registering. A friend or family member could walk into a store, see an item and be able to say that this is something so-and-so would wear. This is because a sense of style has and needs a bit of consistency. Consistency in fashion is a tricky balance. It can run the risk of looking like a uniform. What it should be is almost like a running theme throughout your wardrobe so that every article flows together. This cohesion works in your favor, as it gives you a full closet of pieces that can be mixed, matched and layered without looking ridiculous.
Lookin' Good, Louis
You shouldn't ever feel ridiculous in what you're wearing. Style is more than just what you buy or what you wear on a regular basis. It's confidence. Certainly those whose particular brand of style exists outside of the popular trends would need a ballsy attitude to pull off the items they wear, but confidence is key when built upon a foundation of t-shirts and jeans. It's more than just being confident in yourself, but being comfortable enough to stand apart from the crowd.
If you don't feel awesome, it shows- just as you can't be molded to enjoy a certain look because that too sticks out like a sore thumb. Take one look at those makeover shows where they stick the slutty girl into a demure outfit or turn the punk kid into a candidate for a Gap ad. Obviously some transformations work, but occasionally there is a look in peoples' eyes that screams, "When these cameras are off, this outfit will be burned."
Similarly, you can't make your style fit into what society says you should wear. As you tug on hemlines, pull clingy shirts away from your body, hike up pants from your waist, and feel overall miserable because of your outfit, you can't define your personal style by what you think you're supposed to wear. Not only is that not personal style, it's nearly impossible. Style should be formed around what you can wear (in terms of what looks good on your figure) as well as what you can afford.
Afford most certainly. Just as style isn't something that can be bought, you shouldn't have to buy to have a style. Style is not achieved through owning the "it" bags or the clothing created by premier (expensive) designers -- though it can be if those looks and labels somehow define you. Well, that sounds snarky, though it wasn't meant to be. It's just meant to emphasize that style is not about much money you spend or don't, what the label says on your t-shirt or what it doesn't. Shop in a thrift store or on the Champs Elysee and you'll have two unique styles, neither of which is better than the other. Feel comfortable in what you wear; don't aim for a style that's not you.
So, go into your closet, rummage through your dresser drawers and find out about you. See what kind of person you are, recall the person that you were this year and the years before.
Go into 2009 knowing just what your style is indeed.
Share this article: