Written by Audrey Stanton (a contributor)
Fashion has always been a powerful industry, however, nowadays it seems we’ve created a monster. With the rise of fast fashion we think we’re being presented with more options, while in fact, we are being told how to dress the same as everyone else. Personal style is getting lost and it’s no longer fun to use fashion as self expression. Instead of enjoying outfit curation, it’s become anxiety producing!
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” -Oscar Wilde
The Industry Lies
At the core of any industry is one driving force- to make money. We can’t forget that we live in a capitalist society and that these brands, companies, and media outlets are all trying to sell something to us. This type of consumerism is not really providing us with choices, but telling us what we should want.
The fashion world is great at selling a lifestyle and dream to people.
This is the very reason that it is almost a 3 trillion dollar industry. So many people follow fashion because it promises them that these pieces of fabric will change their lives. Frankly, it’s manipulative. It’s exhausting to always be searching for what’s next. Every day we are bombarded with new images of what we should be wearing and how. The irony of all this is that trends cycle back every couple of decades. With the rise of technology, inspiration is getting recycled at an alarming rate and it makes even less sense to be chasing new items that are actually recreations.
The fashion industry has created a false narrative that if we don’t buy it now, it will be gone!
This has us running around buying far more than we need and not even wearing it all. In reality, we have time to be inspired by new fashion ideas, and to make thoughtful purchases. We do in fact have the space to decide whether or not a clothing item would truly make sense in our wardrobe. Our self-worth is not defined by the trend we are wearing because we can write our own stories. Social media can be a blessing a curse but in it’s most successful moments, it gives individuals a voice that they would otherwise not have. Through the rise of street style and social media there are so many ways to get excited about individuality and combat a trickle-down theory that has prevailed for years.
Personal Style is Important
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worried about wearing the right shirt to a certain event, meeting, or even coffee with friends. Situations like these keep all of us from being interested in who we are, because we are only looking at what we are not. Trends force us all to subscribe to the same information, when we are all quite unique. No one has the same exact hair, skin color, body shape or personal taste, so why should our outfits be the same? I encourage you to look at your closet. What are your absolute favorite items, and why? That blue sweater that you wore on a first date, those jeans that hug your hips just right, or that lucky bracelet that always gives you confidence. Think about why those items are special to you.
How do you find your personal style, you ask?
The not-so-simple answer is that it’s a process. Patience is not something we are taught in our current society but it is necessary for finding a wardrobe that makes us truly happy. Start by getting inspired. Look through Pinterest, social media, magazines, movies etc. Finding personal style doesn’t mean ignoring popular culture, but realizing your version of that will look different than someone else’s.
For instance, I love the trend of sneakers right now. I feel far more comfortable and confident in them. I have always worn them but been inspired in recent years to almost exclusively wear them. I don’t like every sneaker that walks down the runway or is shown on a celebrity’s feet, but I’ve found one or two styles that I’m excited about and wear ALL THE TIME. There’s a difference between being inspired by something and blindly following. Take some time to try things on, be inspired, and make thoughtful purchases that will last.
Save Time and Money
Fast-fashion, trends, and the media make us think that our time and money is best spent on disposable items. We are tricked into believing that we will save money by buying cheap, quickly produced pieces, and that we will save time by copying what influencers are wearing. What I’m about to reveal to you proves that none of that is true. By buying cheaply made clothing we are investing in something with an incredibly short lifespan. Tops from Forever 21, H&M, and Ross will fall apart within weeks and you’ll find yourself back at the store, spending your money yet again. This ends up being more expensive than investing in a few quality pieces! This revelation goes for time as well. Instead of spending hours stalking celebrity and influencer social media feeds, you could get to know yourself. By spending a bit of time understanding what is most important to you in a wardrobe, you will save time later. If you are in tune with who you are, then shopping for yourself will become a breeze! Invest in yourself, not brand names.
“Don’t compromise yourself, you’re all you’ve got.” -Janis Joplin
Fashion is exciting and upsetting all at once. All of this isn’t to say don’t even think about fashion but rather, stay curious and questioning the information that is presented to you. The happy news is that we each have a choice. We can use our dollars wisely to support the businesses and people that we truly believe in. We can get more information and not simply follow the status quo. The power is in your hands, you just have to use it.
Also published on Medium.