Photo Credit: Becca McHaffie via Unsplash

It’s out with the new and in with the new

By Natasha Pooley

Is personal style dead?

Style. We all have it. Just not all of us choose to express it. And it’s no wonder really, when at every turn we are being discouraged from expressing our own unique senses of style.

So what is style? It’s how we express ourselves. In fashion, our personal style is how we decorate and modify our appearance, through clothes, make-up or accessories, usually in pursuit of a particular look or aesthetic. A look that is representative of ourselves, a study in self-expression. Personal style develops over time and is ever-changing. It grows and changes as we ourselves grow and change.

Sadly, individuals are very rarely encouraged to express their own personal style. The fashion industry wants to push its narrative, and bend individuals to its own doctrine in order to boost profits. If people default to the current trends for fashion influence, rather than their own distinct style, they will return to retail to buy what they need to keep up with trend cycles. The fashion industry’s continued campaign against individualism leads not only to consumers being carbon copies of the same aesthetic but also perpetuates fast fashion. Fast fashion is becoming increasingly problematic for society and of course the environment. The practice of wearing items for at most a handful of times before discarding them increases pressure to spend more to keep up while contributing to excess waste. Fashion brands create cheap products that don’t last because they don’t need to, as they will be discarded anyway and we will keep buying. Thus we see ourselves stuck in the endless cycle of binning and repurchasing items instead of giving them a new lease of life, for example donating them to charity. These items end up clogging landfills and as they are often made from manmade bases, such as polyester, they don’t break down efficiently. 

The constantly changing trend cycles only exacerbate this problem. With what’s hot and not changing all the time, individuals are pushed towards fast fashion as an affordable way of keeping up with trends. Trends pressure conformity, and thus serve the capitalist goal of making a profit as individuals will likely not already possess what they need to fit in, and especially to be seen as fashion-savvy and current, fitting the expectation and pressure to stay “relevant”. 

It’s the pressure to stay relevant that drives the fashion trend cycles. Individuals follow these trends to stay relevant, and they bow to pressure, But the fashion industry itself is only ever-changing due to the pressure to produce something fresh, something new. The expectation is that they can and will. And it is for these same reasons that individuals shy away from expressing their own sense of style. 

There are so many different components that help to create a certain look. Hair, make-up, jewellery, clothes, and shoes. These are all ways of expressing ourselves, a person’s signature style can come down to just one thing. Individuals may shake up their look every two days, but still, have that certain element that makes their look distinctly “them”! A specific necklace, vibrant shoes, and a long coat. Style doesn’t have to be a whole aesthetic, it can be one iconic feature. Whether its a particular style of jacket, a piece of jewellery, or killer 6-inch heels, we can all express our own style, it doesn’t have to be a full look, what constitutes a unique “us” often bleeds through in our own ways, we just have to let it.

We shouldn’t box ourselves into one style box. We can incorporate fashion, trends old and new, with our own personal style.

Style has infinite potential. Whether we embrace or repress it, we all have the possibility of an outlet for creativity. Our style is how we express ourselves visually, every element of our aesthetic. Not just the clothes on your back, but how you wear them, the colours you favour, the accessories you choose. Your style is all the different visual and textural elements that go into your appearance.

The fashion industry is not conducive to individuality. Once again, profits and acclaim come before all else. And after all of this, the monoliths who control what’s “hot or not” are yet to make Morgana Pendragon princess gowns acceptable day wear. This culture of constantly changing trends is not just toxic and exhausting but it’s boring! With this quick trend cycle, we’re all probably going to feel outdated or like we don’t “fit in” at some point or other. The best thing we can do is embrace our favourite pieces, even if they’re not on every influencer’s feed right now, no doubt in a few months’ time it will be the hottest thing again!


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