Style is defined as a particular, distinctive, or characteristic mode of fashion. When we recall icons of style, we consider the personal graces of many throughout history. In the 1960’s, we note the particular fashions worn by the likes of Audrey Hepburn, Edie Sedgwick, and Jackie Kennedy. Despite the fact that all of these women reigned during the same era, they each assumed their own unique and individual style. Their distinct senses of fashion are now remembered decades later and are constantly referred to as sources of inspiration throughout many artistic mediums. Ostensibly, these women will eternally be celebrated for their respective styles.
However, nowadays it would seem that the word “stylish” has become almost completely synonymous with what’s on trend. In New York, you’ll spot a girl with ombre colored hair wearing leather pants and platform sneakers receiving praise for her appearance by an approaching street style photographer. Continue walking a few blocks and you will undoubtedly notice a few other women with the same exact fashion aesthetic. These specific pieces and beauty looks are currently trending in New York City. A month or two from now, it’ll be something else and that same girl you saw receiving recognition for her popular look will now be wearing an entirely new ensemble, nevertheless still garnering compliments on a look that is currently being consistently replicated throughout the city.
A relevant example of this can be seen in the ever-changing music, fashion choices, and beauty looks exemplified through superstar, Rihanna. Her management makes sure that she will always remain relevant. Her music is always aligned with what’s currently the most popular sound amongst consumers, her style embodies contemporary fashion trends, and her look is also one that’s presently the most repeated. It’s difficult to identify the star’s specific personal style, because it is one that has continually transformed with the times. She embodies America’s fixation with what’s fresh in almost everything she does.
That’s the nature of our culture – we live in a society that has always been obsessed with what’s new. Media outlets constantly update their readers on the most prevalent looks, items and entertainment. In fact, the mainstream can conceivably agree that American lifestyle publications are almost all dedicated to dictating what is and what isn’t “in style.” Their notions reach the masses through endless blogging, tweeting, and posting, and soon enough, a new trend will be created. Everyone will covet the new paraphernalia, and it will appear literally everywhere. Starting from your computer screen on to the fashionistas squeezing into the L train and later to the hypebeasts you see lining up on the corner of Lafayette and Prince. In time, this trend will reach its end, fade away and we’ll laugh at the fact that we were willing to spend thousands of dollars on Air Yeezys or believe that shaving only half of our head was a good idea. In reality, we’re really just spending money on the prospect of remaining current.
That’s the difference between personal style and trend. Your personal style is one that will forever be distinctively yours. The way you chose to wear your hair, dress yourself, and the music you listen too are all aspects of your personal style; which is something that really cannot be replicated. This sentiment is the basis for how style icons are created. For instance, you’ll forever associate Lady Gaga as the pop star who showed up to the MTV Music Video Awards in a dress made entirely out of raw meat. That outfit choice was one that most of the world found incredibly odd, but her look was preeminent and an example of a fashion choice that will eternally remain a symbol of Lady Gaga’s personal style. The same goes for Kanye West’s decision to wear leather skirts throughout his Watch the Throne tour. He can opt to trade the Givenchy kilts for a different piece in the future, but the pictures of him rapping his lungs off in a pleated mini will remain on the Internet and in our minds forever.
Of course the rest of us will all continue to lust after the new, as our consumer driven media will always command it. After all, we are simply just a product of our environment right? To the rest of the world we are the greedy Americans with an endless need to spend, buy, and upgrade. That’s our nation’s personal style. However, while our yearning for unnecessary merchandise will eventually fade, our distinctive individualities never will. Just note that penchant the next time you find yourself desiring an overpriced item of clamor. Are you purchasing it because it’s trendy or because it personifies you?