“…DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO”

The ending line of the Edgars Fashions last summer advert. It features two of my favorite powerful showbiz personalities, Jonathan Boynton-Lee from Top Billing and Sho Madjozi. It says a lot about fashion and most importantly style.   Assertion, self-expression, individuality and identification are the powerful words that came to mind after watching the advert. Fashion is one thing but style carries so much more than just a one would think.

Fashion and style, they often go side by side complementing each other, but their meanings are different.

Fashion refers to the now trends. The “it thing” of the moment while style reflects more on personal authenticity and identity. Fashion sets the pace for consumers, trendy today outdated tomorrow. It’s like, “everyone has it, I want it too” and after a short while, “I can’t wear this anymore, it is so last year”

Wrapping up my three year stay in a city full of diversity, multi cultures and religions, Cape Town. I am beginning to understand that style reflects one’s individuality like any other form of art is used for self- expression. I have begun to understand the essence of self-representation, who I am and what I represent. Style can represent a person and introduce them without saying a single word. I guess it is a choice of understanding another person based on what you see at first glance and the rest is up to the person to prove you right or wrong.

Growing up, I wanted to dress so differently from everyone else. I often thought I was different, boring to be precise, but very comfortable and confident. I didn’t realize that was my style, a boring style that reflected how boring I was I guess, but I was very confident and I still extend myself. When I am boring and confident, I push barriers effectively when everyone least expect and after, I keep myself to myself and from distance I watch and learn. I take important lessons like weighting my hems so that they don’t blow up in breeze or how to match my mum’s twenty year old red skirt with a viscos blouse.

More often people get judged by what they choose to put on, called names and sometimes confronted yet the disclosure of those throwing punches are no better and often a good deal worse. You got to keep up with people and their uniqueness but they have to keep up with yours too. The best way to rock it is to own it unapologetically. We are all different in many ways, so is our styles and expressions.

Style differentiates us from one another, we all wear jeans but we wear them differently. That’s style right there. It can be seen in multiple layers of identities suggesting one’s religion, culture, nationality, gender, social class and age. The choice of dressing can be influenced by one’s affiliations such as the mentioned above but a style is an individual choice. Ever seen a group of people wearing the same uniform but wearing it differently.

Identity is one of the most significant human attribute we all have. Our identities are sometimes linked to how we represent ourselves both in private and public spaces. Through appearance and how we represent ourselves, style is an interpretation and expression of who we are.

The emerging fashion diversity is very empowering especial to girls and women. Gone are the days when women were expected to dress in a certain way. Freedom of expression is here and it is big enough for everyone to grab a piece and own it. Being free to be yourself is quite empowering in so many levels and being able to let your chosen style speak for your is even better.

I have had a close up on the subject with my colleagues whose styles I admire. I always watch and observe and sometimes gather courage, pass a compliment.

An amazing friend and colleague of mine, Vicki is one of the few people whose style is calmly vibrant. Not trending but everything authentic and unique. She doesn’t dress like other young women her age, neither does she dress like an old auntie, she dresses uniquely in between not  to be noticed or to be invisible. I would say her style is impressively subtle and very comfy.

I am not a fan of fashion trends myself. I guess my pockets restrict me from changing my wardrobe time to time that’s why I don’t follow or pay attention to fashion trends. I also love the idea of being unique. Vicki’s style is none trendy, she isn’t a fashion trends follower. While others are speeding to grab a piece of the new fashion in the shops, she is very much ok in being different and being herself.

“My style is inspired by the 90s. I feel like they were the days when the freedom of expression emerged. I don’t follow fashion trends. I love rocking my 90s as long as I feel comfortable in them. My mood plays a role in choosing what to wear on daily basis”, said Vicki.

It left me wondering how many people would trade comfort for trends. Is it still a style if it makes you feel uncomfortable? Couple of times I have seen people dressed up to kill but looked uncomfortable, but then again looks can be deceiving. Or probably uncomfortable is part of self-expression on a particular day or maybe brave enough to suffer just to dress the part C. JoyBell C once said “Glamour only radiates if there is a sublime courage and bravery within”. Food for thought.

Does style have anything to do with brands? What do brands reflect on about one’s style? I guess it goes back to the social class identification. I mean one jacket can cost a few hundreds from another brand and the same jacket with the same design and material can cost thousands from the next brand. “there is no word cheap when it comes to style, anyone can look chic in inexpensive clothes, even the rich buy inexpensive clothes too but their style make them look expensive”- C. JoyBell C. That’s how powerful style can be. It takes the price tag off and make it look priceless.  So what is really the relationship between brands and style?

I know a few people who are very specific about brands. A friend of mine is very specific about the brands he wears and/or the shops he buys from. His reasons being that some of the brands have guarantees. The durability of some brands’ products is uncontested. Well I guess he is one fellow who doesn’t follow fashion trends as well, I think durability and trends are two strong things to critically think of when buying. Why would he care about the durability of something he will reshuffle in a few months later?

Vicky is on the other hand isn’t really specific about brands. When she see what she likes she buys regardless of the name of the brand. “I don’t really pay attention to brands hey, I can buy anything in any shop or designer as long as it compliments and accommodates my style. My style represents who I am. It is my personal brand. It is me expressing who I am and what I represent. The fact that it represents me makes me feel so confident’, she said unapologetically.

Meeting someone for the first time. Their style gives a glimpse of who they are and what they represent, but I heard, “the book shouldn’t be judged by its cover”.

I guess style is style, and it’s a transparent cover that reveals the font type and size before you open it.

“Style is never wrong or right, it’s a matter of being yourself intentionally’

Your style is your identity.  DON’T LET ANYONE TELL YOU WHAT TO DO. Own it.

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