Monday, December 11, 2006

Personal Style: What, When, Why, Who & How

Fellow blogger, The Sartorialist, has just posted his first-ever Sartorial Contest on the topic of personal style. Winners will receive a signed copy of Bruce Weber's new book Sex & Words (only 2,000 in publication). The contest asks readers to answer the simple, yet complex, question - "What has most inspired your personal style?"

A question that is not novel yet which so many people (I think) are clueless too. How did our personal style come about? What really is our personal style? When did it happen? Where did it derive from? Who influenced it? Who didn't influence it?

Personal style - not an easy feat, it seems. This question has sparked some tribulation in my mind. Am I really on a quest to achieve my personal style? Do I already have a personal style? Do people see it and I don't?

I think that if we look back we could recognize the individuals with a true sense of personal style. Individuals who have, inadvertently, made a mark in fashion history - Lauren Bacall, Katherine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Coco Chanel, Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Madonna... and on and on. I wonder, did they know what their personal style really was? Did they know that they were leaving their marks?

Well, I answered The Sartorialist's contest question on the basis of what first came to mind when I read "What has most inspired your personal style?"

"My personal style is, at the present moment, in development. I feel like I am just coming into my own personal style. I have stopped trying to emulate my friends or stars on TV or anyone else of the like. I take style hints from everything and everyone, but if it does not stick to me then I don't adopt it regardless if it’s all the rage at the moment.

I think personal style has a lot to do with really knowing yourself, trusting yourself and doing what works for you (and only you). And this is why I say it’s in development because I am in the process of really beginning to fully trust myself and know who I am (despite what people say or think I am).

I also think personal style changes, yet there is always a root of your personal style that will follow you through the years. I think my “personal style root” is classic no matter if I am in a grunge mood or a sweater set and pearls mood. And I think that root was inspired from everything about the person that I am today – my childhood, my parents, my schooling, my friends (past and present), my non-friends, books, movies, travels, work experience.

For me, it’s a melting pot of life that has really inspired my personal style and which continues to do so."

What do you think about Personal Style?

1 comment:

e said...

i think personal style can take a while to develop. it takes knowing your character, your tastes, your life and your outlook/attitude on life -- not just knowing your body or your colour preferences or your workplace. it evolves, and even when you have arrived at a style that is singularly, it can be tweaked without losing sight of your special signature.
i'm 35, and mine is getting better and better -- i'm knowing myself better and better.
it's also fairly strict! do we want to get down to articles of clothing and details of items?
this year i have moved to wearing only skirts to work to feel more feminine (i shaved my hair earlier this year to raise $$ for cancer research, it has been distinctly boyish for the last 8 months as i grow it out) and suit a changing lower body shape! and only ever knee length skirts; i'm petite and longer things look frumpy and dowdy. knits and tops only, as i can't stand ironing, plus they are quicker -- pull on and go. no v necks at all -- i'm just allergic to v necks! none of my shoes have laces -- again the pull on and go philosohpy -- except my gym sneakers. i tend to wear only bracelets and bead necklaces, no other jewellery; never belts (another allergy); i have an aversion to prints (from a torrid love of them in my early days, afterwhich i worked out that nothigng went together, all the prints clashed!). i have a farily simple streamlined and classic look that suits my life and my body type; and the simplicty of lines also allows m accessories -- which update my look --to coe to the fore.
all this sounds strict and very prescriptive, and someimes i want to try somethign different, but i know anything deviating from this is not me and would not feel comfortable, physically or emotionally. it makes getting dressed easy, and shopping incredibly easy, because you know exactly what you are after and what you avoid (hey, don;t like belts? avoid that section of the shop altogether).
i admire people who have a distinct look and it's interesting to dissect theirs to the building blocks (like i have described, knee length skirt plus knit top plus beads) and then see how they use this formula to encapsulate "them" and communicate "them" consistently -- but never boringly!