What is style and what is fashion? If you ask me, fashion is what is of the now, what’s hot, what the celebrities wearing, the latest fad, what’s hip, whatever may be the latest thing. Style on the other hand are those rare items that will never go out of fashion, those things that are timeless, iconic, the things that should be the base staples of your wardrobe.
So what types of items would fall under the category of fashion, and what falls under style? Well of course this is an opinion but in my mind a few things that are fashionable would be more refined to the details, such as how high the waist of your jeans are, such as todays more low riding waists versus the higher waists we wore in the 80’s and 90’s – now known as “mom jeans”. However, fashionably high waisted pants are back in fashion again, although the cut of the 80’s and 90’s styles are not the same, therefore “out”. Another example of fashion trends would be the bohemian clothes that are all the rage these days versus the hippie clothing from the 70’s. Bohemian obviously takes its inspiration from the 70’s but fabrics are lighter, not as much natural material used that can be weighty, and the cuts more refined perhaps but that is also opinion. I was a child in the 70’s and recall the heavy denim fabrics, the jute ponchos, thick corduroy pants, and cumbersome bell bottoms. Today’s bohemian fashions are far more flowey and light weight. Style on the other hand is classic, and can always be melded in with whatever “todays fashion” brings forth.
A pearl necklace will always be a strand of pearls. Sure we have various colors, sizes to the pearls, and good quality may be more rare these days, but a strand of pearls will always be a stately, yet simple strand of pearls. There is little that “fashion” can do to change that, or desecrate it. Granted I am all about the latest fashions, within reason, I mean I am not looking to appear as if I walked off the red carpet in my small town in Kansas, nor do I go clubbing and have a need for slinky dresses, nor do I go for “shock value” so you won’t find me watching too many shows on MTV about what the stars are wearing. I really do not care much. But I do keep my eye on trends. What is important to know however when it comes to finding your true sense of fashion and style is having a good base wardrobe, which should focus on style, classics, basics, then having an on going rotation of fashion that works with it.
Start by thinking of basic colors, white, tan / nude / taupe, black, navy, red, etc .. you get the idea. Every woman should have a simple black dress, for example. It need not be a “little” black dress, but a basic black dress that you are comfortable in is essential to any wardrobe.
I should explain perhaps what inspired this article. Yesterday it was drizzling a bit. My husband and I were going to have dinner, and while I was not dressed to the nines, I did have a decent outfit on. I had been wearing around the house that day, a Gap zip up hoodie. My house is always too cold for me, as everyone else likes it cold. When we were preparing to leave I grabbed my Eddie Bauer trench coat. A basic brown trench that I have had since I was in my early 20’s, an item reserved for those rainy days when I also happen to be going out. My husband mentioned that I do not wear it often, which is true, but to which I responded, “I have worn it a lot in the last twenty years.” He looked surprised, and commented that it looked like something I could have bought recently. Which is exactly my point, some items are truly timeless. That is what inspired this article. I had my husband snap a quick photo of me in my trench, not the best photo of me perhaps, but you can see the coat. Truly in step with today’s standards of a good trench. When it comes to style, true classics, things change very little.
Now granted, it can quickly become quite confusing what to have in our closets! When you begin to consider shoes, clothes, accessories, and accessories alone opens a whole new can of worms as you have clutches, totes, cross-body bags, earrings, rings, bracelets, scarves, and so on … it is easy to get overwhelmed. Just try to remember that having perhaps ten stylish items is better than having a hundred fashionable items for a starting point.
As my husband and I had dinner we talked more on the subject. I put it into a perspective of a man’s point of view. A basic gold or silver watch, boat shoes, kaki shorts, a button down shirt, that which can be worn for business, or a dinner out, which he happened to be wearing that night. My point was easy for him to grasp. While the cornflower blue jeans I was wearing may or may not be in fashion a couple of years from now, or perhaps not even next season, and while my blouse (which you can’t see in the photo) may go out of fashion as well, that trench, I imagine, I will be able to wear another decade from now and look perfectly fashionable.
If you are still confused, and I would not blame you because there is a lot to understand, I am always learning myself, but if you are still wondering “just what should
I focus on in building my wardrobe?”do not dispair. I will have a follow up article soon on building a base wardrobe, and you can also reference my past article on a base shoe wardrobe here
Another frame of reference for you would be this book, linked below. I have three of them on order, one or two which will be included in upcoming giveaways right here on my blog! One is for me, as I already gave one away in a fashion swap box in one of my fashion groups on facebook. I will admit, I did not read the entire book, as I wanted to share it with someone else, hence it went into the swap box. But I read enough of it, (I skim pretty fast), to know it has some sound advice and good wisdom for all of us.
So as you are shopping, and trying to stay on budget, a good rule of thumb that I use is to ask yourself “How many of the items I have in my cart (be it literal or virtual) are stylish, and how many are fashionable?” Try to make sure that at least 1/3rd of the items you buy are going to stand the test of time (stylish) and the other 2/3rd can be things that may go out of style (fashionable). Now granted if you are like me, someone who worked from home, and raised children, rarely going out into the world for over two decades, and let their wardrobe become PJ’s, jean shorts, and tees, you may need to flip that equation. I personally need to focus more on my base wardrobe right now over fashionable items. I will also admit, that when I first began to care about how I dressed again, I went hog wild on fashionable items. That is okay, it is fun, but I had to pull back and realize I was not really helping myself much by doing so. You may also find that the stylish, timeless items cost more, as they should, they will last a very long time. When you buy those timeless pieces you can allow yourself to spend more of your shopping budget for that reason. While when buying “todays fashions” you may want to also consider how much you are paying for something that won’t last the test of time. Focus on quality of fabrics when buying your timeless pieces and don’t be so critical on the quality of the fashionable items, thus saving money.
I hope that this article has helped some of you get started on understanding fashion versus style, and building a base wardrobe. Remember, soon I will have a follow up article about what pieces to have in a base wardrobe, and please check out my link to the basic shoe wardrobe here.
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