It may be useful to define a few terms I will use a lot on this blog. Since this is about Style, let’s start there. Sometimes though, it is easier to define something by what it isn’t…
Style is not Fashion. Fashion is a designer’s or an editor’s point of view, which may happen to overlap with your own Style from time to time (everyone has a few favourite designers, no?). You can use Fashion as a tool to create Style, but by itself, Fashion is not Style. Fashion isn’t at all individual; it is just participation in a global trend (Print Clashing! Normcore! Eighties Revival!). Fashion is (usually) dressing for other women, or for the fashion industry. Anna Della Russo is a perfect example of this, usually wearing a head to toe runway look.
Style is not Chic. Women who are wary of Fashion can understand Chic. Chic is safe, tasteful, and timeless. It never surprises or puts anyone off. Chic has its place (especially for work) but it isn’t Style. Most of Hollywood aims for this category, because they can’t afford to alienate fans from their ‘brand’ by being too risky or avant garde. Chic is (usually) dressing for men; they get it. Audrey Hepburn was classic Chic, with her closet full of little black dresses.
Style, however, is unapologetically individual, without any regard for the clique of Fashion or the safe zone of Chic. It involves risk and that sometimes means getting it wrong… which is why confidence is THE necessary element of Style. Style is dressing for yourself. Every great Style Icon always list their greatest hits as well as their memorable misses in interviews. Misses are fine; it means they have the confidence to experiment. Excellent examples of genuine personal Style are Kate Moss, Diane Keaton, Alexa Chung, Katherine Hepburn, Gwen Stefani, Sarah Jessica Parker, Dita von Teese, Carine Roitfeld, and Victoria Beckham. These are women whose personalities and Style are so intertwined that you can’t think of them without thinking of their personal Style (this does not mean you have to like their Style, only that they have it). What they wear on the outside projects who they are on the inside; that is Style.
Sometimes, something that is Chic is also Stylish. Sometimes, something Stylish may also be Fashionable. Very rarely will it be the holy trifecta of Fashionable, Chic AND Stylish, but it is possible… When an item ticks all three boxes for me, I have to have it! My most recent purchase that was all three (in my opinion) was this bronze Tibi midi skirt. Fashionable– because ladylike Dior-ish Midi Skirts are having a real fashion moment lately, Chic– because it isn’t risky at all, and Stylish– because it reflects my ladylike-with-a-twist vibe if I style it properly with a few edgy accessories.
You have Style too; we all do. I’m certain that you’ve had a friend who has looked at something and said, “That is SO YOU!” As we age, it is worth keeping the Style we have developed over the years, and to opportunistically take some inspiration from the ever-changing world of Fashion to keep ourselves current and fresh.