Not A Winner.....

I recently (well, in September) entered an Elle Talent writing competition. The brief was an article on "What Style Means To Me." The winning article was wildly different from what I'd written, so maybe I got the wrong end of the stick. But I thought that I could at least create a blog out of it-seems a shame to let it fester in my documents folder.

So, for your viewing pleasure:

What Style Means to Me

Style. One tiny word, one huge concept.

Style is innate, and it is also time consuming. It is fun, and it can be frivolous. It is enjoyable, and it can be frustrating. Style always stirs emotions because to me, it is a passion. And this can be detrimental as well as affirmative…when time is ticking and nothing looks right, the thought of leaving the house dressed like this can empty out my mood into the metaphorical garbage heap. Conversely, when an outfit just clicks, the confidence boost is incredible. It makes everything worthwhile.

But is it really as simple as a confidence boosting cocktail of colour and shape? The clothes we wear are, of course, an integral part of who we are. An outward description of inward feelings, whether they be for negative or positive reasons. A uniform. An armour. Protection. Obsession. A reason to show off, or a reason to hide. How incredible, then, that these emotions can be displayed so overtly, without us even having to speak a word.

It can be said that style comes from within. Of course, anything worn with the insouciance arising from the ‘I know I look good’ mindset will instantly become more relevant and more punchy. But sometimes that alone is just not enough. I see so many girls who look good. Fashionable. Of the moment. Trend led. But style can be elusive. Style is what sets apart the knockout clothing collaborators from the fashionable young things. It is rare that I see a person who I truly consider, in my opinion, to be stylish. But it happens. And when it does, I feel my breath catch, and my pulse quicken, and I make a mental note of her outfit.

Yves Saint Laurent once said, “fashions fade. Style is eternal.” This quote is overused and underrated, because ultimately, it is entirely true. Look at fashion felons of days past…the power dressers of the 1980’s who, by the nineties, were so heinously out of touch…and who now, almost three decades later, we look to once again for inspiration. Balmainia at its peak saw the envelopment of bleached, ripped jeans and fierce power shoulders sweeping the catwalk and then the high street. This is eco fashion at its very best-recycling what we know into something completely relevant to the look and feel of today.

Style is many things. It is not even limited to fashion. My fridge door bears a sticker which reads ‘built-in style’. So style is integral to our lives in many other ways than we would care to imagine. So rooted and ingrained in our trajectories as people, as individuals, it is impossible, really, to think of a life without some form of style within: whether this means style of an individual, a family, a personality, a television programme, a kitchen utensil. It has become all encompassing, and, perhaps, though usually associated with catwalks and clothes shows, begun to reach feelers into other aspects of our lives, regardless of our awareness of this. So perhaps that is a key point of style: its roundedness and way of surrounding us, almost irreverently and without our awareness, but really, actually, it is more fundamental and reverent than we would care to believe.

Style means many things. And I don’t think it is presumptuous to suggest that all people, no matter what they regard as ‘fashion’ in the basest sense, make choices dependant on style. Where you choose to eat, to socialise, to shop, all bear relevance to a choice made by an individual, with their own style, and their own mind to interpret that style. Which is another elemental face of style: that it is open to interpretation by anyone, by dint of which, gives it its multifaceted quality of reflection, able to inspire or cause desperation, allowing one tiny shoot of stylish-ness to be picked up and recast in a million different ways by a million different people. Its very ambivalence and impossibility to pin down, are what makes style so continual and so exciting, and this constant manoeuvrability are what gives style its unwaning interest season after season.

Despite being credit-crunched, notwithstanding a slight style obsession, it comes to bear that style can also equal debt. Who wouldn’t like the latest Stella McCartney thigh high boot, or the Balmain sharp shouldered jacket? Style can be unreachable in the extreme, but this is all just a gauntlet for the financially challenged to tackle. Style can overcome, and does, in hand distressed skinny jeans and the local haberdashery’s shoulder pads. Style is more than a lable, and its interpretation can lift a mediocre moment into one of spectacular clarity. And that might just be the pinpoint, right there.

Style means so much. To me, basically, style means freedom, enjoyment, creativity. Style is my way of being eloquent or abrasive, dependant on my mood. I can be any number of people, in any number of places. Sometimes I wear stripes and a beret. Sometimes I wear a leather jacket and an attitude. Style is what allows me to be who I am, feel the way I want to feel, portray the real me, contradictory as it may seem. Ultimately, style is a part of me and I am a part of it. It crosses boundaries and establishes its own borders. And that’s the name of that (stylish) tune.
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