“No. She’s not stylish at all. In fact – I hate the way she dresses”.
These words struck me quite pungently while I sat around the table at my favourite pub sipping my glass of white wine and enjoying the familiar banter from the people around me as we discussed the approach some people take towards fashion. If you’re a girl then you’ll know that this kind of conversation creeps into many many occasions and many many pub talks.
Of course I’ve had countless conversations like this one, but at this moment I was remarkably taken aback by such powerful words. Even though I later did indeed give my personal opinion on whether I thought she was stylish– and even though the girl in question was not in fact me – I still felt somewhat shocked that someone had been ruthlessly called out for her tasteless approach to fashion. I personally thought the girl in question was, indisputably, unstylish – however I have never declared such musings so blatantly. When my mates turned to me and asked casually “Hols, do you honestly think she’s stylish?” I stammered my answer and shly said I hadn’t thought about it. “Hols, come on. Of course you have – she used to wear Ugg boots to Varsity for goodness sake”. We laughed and the conversation moved on – but as with all blog posts – this simple chatter led me to think quite hard about a prominent dilemma that we as 21st millennial’s find ourselves sucked into.
This dilemma results in a nasty wave of judgmentalism that confirms us as a generation of superficial, image-conscious citizens who over-value appearance and under-value substance. To call someone out just because their style is not parallel to mine feels somewhat shallow.
Even though I may prominently think it, it may not always be appropriate to declare so valiantly to the world how apparently narrow-minded I am (or perhaps, we are) in my worldview. Whether someone’s stylish or not quite frankly doesn’t change the cost of butter.
Of course considering that this is a fashion blog means I am being incoherently hypocritical – but perhaps the underlying message of this is essentially that just because we love fashion, doesn’t necessarily decree us to be Anna Wintour’s of the fashion industry. It shouldn’t by any means give us the validity to judge certain people on their sense of style in any way – and even though familiar banter with your best mate is hardly a sin, I think it’s important that we take a stand in the conformative waves of society that sway towards tendencies of flower headbands, pom-pom ponytails and gold temporary tattoos.
Not everyone appreciates fashion – and that’s okay. A person’s primary significance should always be their substance and character – and their appearance and style (in my personal opinion) should be an added bonus – the cherry on top of the cake.
Since living here in London I have learnt that everyone’s style is very much their own choice – some people have a natural knack for matching their Zara trench coat to their Prada bag, whereas others may not see that they have a giant hole creeping dangerously through the underside of their worn-out Levi’s. And that’s quite all right.
Sometimes I sense that people think I am judging them on their outfit. Of course I am.
But whether I like their outfit or not – it absolutely doesn’t matter.
And I shouldn’t care to bring it up either!
Just like whether someone likes my sense of style or not – fashion is a choice you should make for yourself. You’re very much free to make it for yourself and yourself alone – and as society we shouldn’t be constricting on people according to their choices. (That is, provided that they are not wearing a “Just Do It” T-Shirt or have dyed their hair pastel pink).