I’ve noticed lately that a lot of the women who follow my fashion blog are slightly obsessed with finding a celebrity or prominent figure in the public eye that they resemble – their fashion style doppelgänger. They feel that when they find that person their fashion identity will be – finally – sealed and they can simply follow their lead. I totally understand this. It’s a belief that cuts across many areas in life, as well as in the realm of fashion. We all want to be reflected and validated. It gives us a sense of belonging.
Belonging makes us feel comfortable… and safe. We no longer have to make a lot of effort to think too independently or critically. And we no longer have to look at ourselves too carefully. Find a role model; copy; repeat. The downside, of course, is that there is rarely much originality created in groups.
In the area of fashion this has led to the overwhelming uniformity of…uniform, i.e. the minimalist movement in contemporary style. Large, body-hiding, unadorned, boxy, and proportion-defying clothes have taken over as the de jour silhouette in much of ready-to-wear. The message is clear: “we are all the same. I’m no better or different than you. I will not stand out if it makes you feel less than I am.” Well, certainly that’s true at the most fundamental level of our being. But what a great bore it is in the complex, fascinating fabric of life – and fashion.
I get it that it takes effort to unfold and develop one’s own style. And it becomes increasingly challenging as we age. Discovering your uniqueness and mustering the courage to fly that flag doesn’t come easily to everyone. Those who are born with it are admirable. They’re also cool. But they haven’t gotten that way by playing it safe. And the greatest lesson they can teach us by example is “don’t follow me.”
So where do we start? Well, here I admit to being a follower myself. I follow the approach set by a certain “group” of women: The French. I don’t do it to copy their style but to learn from their aesthetic. In fact, they have a kind of no-style style, as in “I don’t fit into a style description box.” They celebrate not only their unique attributes of body and facial features but the value of intelligence, wit and charm as a part of their overall attractiveness. And they value independence in thought and dress.
That’s why you will see women of all ages and types celebrated in their culture. They look at dressing as art. Does it border on costume? Yes, sometimes. But if “all the world’s a stage,” why would you want to be the scenery when you can be the star?
So, the French fashion sense is cool because it is unexpected, unique, complex. Frankly, we are all complex. We are cross-overs of style, coloring, personality, thought, and culture. That’s what makes us interesting. Let’s not abandon that for the comfort of “belonging.”
Learn more about your unique style in Shopping for the Real You.