Look At Those Clothes!

Musings on style and fashion

“Style is not about what you’re wearing . . . “

 

 

“Style is not about what you’re wearing. Style is a combination of many things: It’s the way you move, your taste in books, your taste in a house. It’s the things you do that are different when everybody else is doing the same thing.”

—Carolina Herrera, designer, Harper’s Bazaar, April 2015

 

Such a nice summing up of the complexity of style! What you decide to wear is indeed just one small part of the mosaic (or puzzle) of your self. And thinking of clothes alone, how fascinating to consider that what you decide to put on today is in some sense a reflection of what your mother decided to put on you when you were an infant in arms—indeed, a reflection of everything you’ve ever thought, read, done, said, written, heard, or seen, let alone worn. Your clothing choices are no  more random than your choices of where to live, what work to do, or who to marry.

Which is not to say that you’re trapped, fated to express yourself through your clothes in only one inevitable way. The person-making process, which is perhaps synonymous with the style-making process, is far too rich and mysterious for that. I doubt that any two people ever have exactly the same response to any “shared” experience.

Besides, we change day by day. We can decide to take chances, to step away from what makes us comfortable, and that stepping away (even if we eventually step part way back) may change who we are. And it may also change what we wear.

Plus, we harbor subpersonalities, whose voices (and choices) may be more or less distinct, more or less alike, thus leading some of us to have more than one style, or at least more than one variation of our core style.

I, along with all of The Style Sisters, from the quiet to the raucous, will enjoy sitting with Herrera’s thought, turning it over in our minds as we ponder why we choose the clothes (books, jobs, friends) we do, why we inhabit one mind and body but don’t always agree, why we change our choices, and how our choices change us.

So which of your drummers (or drums) are you marching to today?

♦♦♦

Known for the elegance, tastefulness, and femininity of her clothing,  designer Carolina Herrera was born to a wealthy and aristocratic Venezuelan family. But she developed a richness and toughness of character thanks to strict parents and a mother who urged her four daughter to cultivate their inner lives. “Beauty, she told them, “is the first thing to go. If you don’t have anything inside you, you are going to be so lonely.” Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis favored Herrera’s clothes, and the designer created Caroline Kennedy’s wedding dress.

Categories: Fashion Quote of the Week

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2 replies

  1. I like her clothing line. It is casual, flows with movement, and yet, chic. I certainly agree that style is individualistic … but not everyone has it. I think that it takes self confidence and knowing who you are to reflect any style.

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    • Thanks for writing, Anon. I like her line too. She doesn’t actually do any of the sewing–no construction +skills–but she certainly does have an eye, as she herself says, for how clothing should rest on and move with the body.

      On the question of style, I agree that it’s very individualistic: just as each of us differs from each of the other humans in our universe, so do our styles depend on who we are as individuals. I think you’re using “style” to mean that someone dresses and acts in a way we find appealing, artistic, funky, classy–whatever our definition of excellence is. That’s certainly one valid use of the term. In a broader sense, though, everyone has style, because everyone is an individual with a personality. As Herrera points out, style in this broad sense is all the things we choose to do and the way we choose to do them. Some people are more aware of their style; they consciously try to express it and perhaps change it from time to time. And as the audience to all the style shows going on around us all the time, we like some styles more than others.

      But everyone has style. Even if you never think about the things you do or wear, you have a style–the style of not caring. Or the style of not being particularly skilled at using the elements of style. And some people have the style of looking and acting as if they have no style (in either the “looking good” sense or the “thinking about the choices I make” sense). So, as you say, it takes self-confidence and knowing who you are to consciously project and manipulate your style. But it’s there waiting for you to work with as you will. Or as you won’t.

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