Fashions fade, style is eternal.
Yves Saint Laurent

We all know Style when we see it. Most everyone would like to have Style, and almost no one believes they do. It’s a mystery — what exactly is it? Why do some people exude Style (and confidence) and yet others, who follow all the trends, somehow don’t? What is Style and how does it relate to Fashion?

First, Fashion is an expression of a broad or general cultural period. It is what can be created out of fabric to fit the human body in anticipation of or answer to a general zeitgeist, an evolving societal attitude. Fashion seeks to make bold predictions about the direction of dress.  It may or may not be logical or aesthetically pleasing. It may or may not be functional. Fashion is meant to be inspirational, visionary, aspirational.

Fashion becomes Style when an individual applies the elements of Fashion to everyday life and wear. Style stands out from Fashion. Sometimes Style is startling and outrageous in a unique way. Think Iris Apfel in her huge, round glasses with brightly colored, chunky bracelets up to her elbows. Or, Style can be a restrained and quiet statement. Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis comes to mind as always proper, elegantly simple. These two examples reflect very different Styles both within the cultural Fashion of their time, but each was personal, specific, distinctively individual.

Is Style only for the wealthy or famous? No! Anyone can have Style because Style is fundamentally an expression of self — as personal as your gestures, your walk, the color of your eyes. Style seeks to make the fashionable and trendy a unique expression, rather than a simple reproduction of a designer’s viewpoint.

Style is why a friend can pull a garment off a rack and say, “This looks like you. Something you’d wear.” Your friend has observed that you consistently express a personality trait in your dress. Certain elements of fashion have become incorporated into a personal Style unique to you. Fashion becomes dated, while Style has staying power precisely because it is expressive of self.

Style comes from the heart. When one is aware of, true to and comfortable with self, Style is the inevitable result. Your Style may be buried or muted. Being clear about who you are, where you are in life, who you’d like to be, and where you aspire to be will naturally develop your Style.

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