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Aren’t fashion and style the same thing?

If not how and why can they be different (or dissimilar)?


card2868Fashion and style are two very common words in our daily life. They are frequently used during conversations on what is happening and in vogue, especially as far as dresses and apparels are concerned. With an exponential rise in the number of fashion events, these terms have become so commonplace that people talk of them in the same breath, almost interchangeably. But are style and fashion synonyms?

Fashion and style are very closely related to each other, but fashion refers to a general norm in a particular time while style refers to the personal characteristics, personal mannerisms, and personal fashions of a person.

Fashion is cyclical in nature and remains in vogue for a certain time period until it is displaced by another trend. Fashion is what is ‘in’ at a particular time or season. So if you are following the trend, you are being fashionable. It is convincing yourself that what others are doing is cool and so you should also follow it. It really feels nice to be labeled trendy and fashionable. However, fashion is for a limited time only and you must change accordingly if you wish to remain fashionable.

Fashion is related to the present custom of dressing in society. It is most commonly used for garments, accessories, footwear, makeup, and hair.    Such as since it is summer, shorts are in fashion.     Fashion could also be related to the mannerisms of a person as well.

The main thing about fashion is that it is ever evolving, it keeps changing with time, it impacts society and gets impacted by society. As the world develops, the fashions develop, and it is one of the biggest characteristics of a particular society.    People can look at the fashion of someone or fashion in which the things are done at a particular time and easily tell what year it was or what particular social changes were happening at the time of that fashion. Fashion adapts, evolves, changes, and results in social development.

On the other hand, style is something that is permanent and timeless. Style is your own and not guided by fashion.  While fashion pertains only to clothing and accessories, style is not dependent upon clothing and can be associated with anything that makes you look stylish. So style is something that is one’s own while fashion is adapting to what is in at the moment. Style is an extension of fashion as you can use what is in fashion and incorporate it in your own style giving it an altogether different touch.

Style is used in many fields ranging from fashion to medicine to instruments used by ancient civilizations.   The focus is on style related to fashion and mannerisms of people and different sorts of things which are referred to as having different styles.  Style is something very personal, and it is like the signature of a person. It is unique, and no one can imitate it unless you actually want to be called an imposter.

What is referred to as style in the fashion world, means a very particular and personal way in which a person dresses? Fashions might change, but the personal style of the person remains the same no matter what the fashion. People incorporate their personal style in the current fashions.   It   is fair to say that someone like  Lady Gaga doesn’t care what the fashion is; she has a unique style all her own.

Style refers to the mannerisms of a person. Again, the main differences between style of a person or the fashion in which a person does things are differentiated by their being personal when the style is considered. For example:  the style of speech of a person. The personal diction, the personal tone, the words one chooses, sarcasm, or poetry or use of idioms, all of these are very personal and becomes a person’s style.      It can also refer to different varieties or kinds of fashion, but the main difference is the personal signature over all.

Over the past several decades, personal style has become more popular than ever.  Instagram accounts, street style blogs and Etsy pages are now significant peaks in the fashion industry landscape, making the rise of individual fashion consciousness just as the fixation on name brands seems to be declining.

Twenty or more years ago, luxury meant having a name-brand item, and luxury for high-schoolers meant Sketchers.   But now the height of luxury is personalization.  Owning name brands is not as powerful as having an individual, curated style.  Even better though: wearing rare pieces that no one else will have.  In 2014, vintage and handmade clothes are much more intriguing than having a cluster of the more recognizable brands of similar outfits.

The rise of street style, publicized by blogs and social media, has changed the fashion industry so much more than the most powerful publications have shifted their focus to the clothes of commoners.   The industry cannot ignore the influence of street photographers like the widely popular Satorialist, and the  fact that photos of attendees taken outside of the fashion shows are often more popular than the photos taken inside.  Street Style is now a fixture in most fashion magazines, which regularly feature street stars who are gaining notoriety for showing up at shows in killer outfits.

The fashion industry, which has long been considered a realm only for the very rich and elite, is now accessible thanks to social media and street photography.   I have heard that today if one buys a ticket to Coachella you have the chance to make the pages of Vogue as you have of being a movie star.   Personal style has become as significant as fashion.

Fashion is a guide to a style that people can create on their own. How you incorporate the latest fashion in your wardrobe so that it suits your personality is really an art and refers to a style a person has. There are many with no style and just follow the fashion blindly. These are people who can be called fashionable but not stylish. However, it is very much possible to be stylish without being fashionable. If you feel that what is in trend does not suit your personality, you can always follow your own style making changes in the current fashion.

Think about fashion vs. style in comparison to food consumption.  You get to eat every day; you wear clothes every day.   There are some days and occasions when you more thought to your outfit and meals than you do other things. There are some people called “foodies” and “fashionistas” for whom eating and wearing clothes are a hobby.    You can compare high fashion to a 5-star restaurant dishes that show innovation, creativity and expertise.  A plate of soft-boiled quail eggs with a side of liquid nitrogen ice cream will look exquisite and show a great deal of culinary competence, just as so many gowns and suits on the runway look like moving works of arts.   But, there is something to be said for hotdog vendors, deli owners, and grandma’s kitchen.   They may not make particular progressive dishes, but their food is still delicious and meaningful.  The food may not be fashionable, but it has style, and it unique to them, and is recognized as something special.

Another difference between fashion and style is that style goes beyond just clothes.   Style is less technical than fashion because it’s overall impression.

The style of a writer is called a “voice” and it can extend far beyond adherence to grammar rules and literary formats into something much more personal and visceral, just as clothing styles defies fashion trends and accepted color combos to give off an overall effect.  Whereas fashion obsesses over perfect proportions and the post-Labor-Day-white controversy, style is an individual choice unique to how a person wants to present themselves and to how they desired to be perceived.

When developing a personal style, it’s helpful to remember that you already have one.  Personal style is equal parts taste and function that have been developed over time.   If you take several favorites movies, bands and works of art, you have taste.   Function is the less half sexy of style – the part that is dictated by where you work, how you spend your time, your climate, and your comfort threshold.   Style is where these two things merge.

The rise of street photography blogs and Instagram accounts is great news for those would like to develop their own style, but aren’t really sure where to start.  If you find fashion magazines intimidating, perhaps you’ll find style blogs more inspiring.  Sometimes by stealing an idea from someone else and making it work for you is a way to cultivate your own look.

If you take the time to peruse through street style galleries take the time to ask yourself,” What do I like about this and why?”   Is it the outfit’s mood, color, proportions, creative styling of sneaker wedges?   Would the outfit work on your body, where you live, or with your own clothes?  It is possible that by mimicking outfits of real people out on the sidewalks it may be easier than trying to glean style tips from fashion shows.   It will assist you that by taking risks and experiment with your own look you will be able to verify your own likes and dislikes.

Kathy Kiefer


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