A lot of people (some I know personally, some I have just heard of, and some I know exist out there) define style by what you put on your back, the label of your shoes, or the name of your bag. This is not just thinking for those who know nothing about fashion or style except for being able to read price tags. It’s sad, and this kind of behavior beats the unique fashion world with all its powers and inspirations and possibilities to the ground by simply dismissing the process of getting to know yourself and transporting your inner self to your clothes.
Fashion is the only language that works in a global range without the necessity of using words to transport a message, set a statement or show your colors. Style is a dialect of fashion, and finding your own style is a process that takes time and effort and an open mind — to evolve, to develop, to grow, to change, to find yourself and analyze your true motives and purposes in life.
Throughout the history of fashion we meet graceful ladies such as Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Princess Diana, as well as elegant gentlemen like Frank Sinatra, Humphrey Bogart, and James Dean and memorable designers like Yves (Henri Donat Mathieu-) Saint Laurent, Christian Dior and Gabrielle “Coco” (Bonheur) Chanel. All those icons taught us one thing above many others—Fashion fades, while true Style remains eternal, AND Style comes from within oneself. It is the essence of who we are, who we want to be and how we want to be seen by others. It is something you either own, or you don’t, obviously. Sometimes, style is something we inherit, if our mothers or fathers or icons help us to find and define ourselves from early on. Those of us who do not get that chance, like myself, with a mother who was hardly able to pick a sweater that matched any of her pants in color or fabric, have to pull themselves together to find out who they are and what kind of style fits their personality.
I don’t want to imply that when it comes to fashion I am as impeccable as Leona Lewis’ voice, but, between you and me, (and because I am totally aware of having my bad moments too) I am quite fabulous and I love what I do. To me, there is nothing as beautiful and reckless and crazy and immortal and self-defining as fashion. What gets me out of bed every morning is the chance to put together an outfit that makes me feel like I can (never just could) conquer the world. And this is the exact feeling I want you to have, learn, live, when you read my Style section here on lifehack.org. I want you to feel good about yourself and I want you to learn how to dress that way and to fall in love with whatever you want to put on your back because a cardinal rule of shopping suggests, “If you don’t love it in the store, you’re never going to wear it!”
So, let’s start finding ourselves by a simple set of rules we go through in this section. I don’t just want to give you orders in what to wear where—that’s not my place and not my right. In the end, I don’t know you and therefore, I can’t tell you what clothes to chose BUT I can help you to learn to know yourself in order to dress better and realize that everything you have inside regarding your motivations, emotions, ambivalences, problems, joys, characteristics, should show in what you wear. Just as Greek sage and philosopher Epictetus said, “Know, first, who you are; and then adorn yourself accordingly.”
But to understand what adorning accordingly really means one has to understand the differences of everything in fashion, from trend to evergreen. So, I say, “Learn what is available out there to adorn yourself with, first, while you get to know who you are and then, apply whatever you’ve been taught.” Yeah, that’s more like it nowadays.
Lesson #1: Fashion fades, Style is eternal.
I know, this is a rather often-misused quotation but bottom line is that it’s true. Basically, this one lesson, our first one, is to understand the difference between what is a current trend and what is something that will last forever to be a faithful companion along the road to fashion nirvana. There are trend pieces, basics, evergreens and investment pieces. The perfect wardrobe consists of each, though I recommend to buy more evergreens and investment pieces, as those are the true survivors of time and changes because they go with it and adapt no matter the time, no matter the change.
As said before, a lot of people stupidly mistake buying labels for having style. But trust me—it hurts far more to look ridiculously stupid in a $5,000 Louis Vuitton dress than in a $40 H&M one.
At this point of time it’s crucial to quote Patricia Field, costume designer of our beloved Sex and the City, who said that, “You can’t get caught up by ‘is it expensive, is it a designer?’ It’s our eye that chooses and really, it doesn’t matter where it comes from.”And she is right—whatever you lay your eyes on, whatever you buy, whatever you fall in love remember one thing; if you don’t love it in the store, you are never going to wear it, and what’s really the sense in buying something just because it’s Prada or Bottega Veneta or Burberry, if you can’t commit to it one hundred percent? The relationship between yourself and your clothes should be as close as the relationship you have with a love interest—possibly even closer and deeper because in the end, a Prada dress or a pair of Burberry boots or that one H&M military jacket will never break your heart.
If you love something, stand behind it. It is what it is. Some people simply can’t afford the luxury of buying everything Chanel or Louis Vuitton and there’s no reason to be ashamed of that. Be proud of what you have and what you are able to treat yourself with. If you have style, you can rock H&M just like others might rock Prada. Truly, it is all about the confidence you inherit and radiate.
Bottom line: Care about your style and the message you want to transport with the way you dress, and NOT the label.
XO — Robert