Let’s put the word/concept of “style” to the side for the moment and instead talk about the current buzz word that seems to apply to our appearance, our way of behaving, our very being: Branding.
We are now asked to examine “our brand” which is to say, the image and personality we project in our lives. In other words, we are our brand.
An article I found fascinating in MORE magazine not too long ago featured page after page exploring and explaining the concept. Bottom line: Everything we do, everything we say is a projection of our brand and we most definitely want it polished so that it reflects well on us.
What then is style other than our brand if you will? Not to be crass, but we are our own public relations and marketing team after all, which then begs the question: Why aren’t we working in our best interests?
Style is the extension of our brand. Style is the way we dress of course and, lest one thinks the contrary, if a woman lives in sweats and rubber flip-flops for the majority of her public appearances, that is her style. Like it or not.
Our facade, does — good or bad — promote our brand.
Why does style seem to be a terrifying concept? It’s the way we treat others, i.e. good manners, thank you notes, thoughtful telephone calls, the way we entertain, our child rearing “style” and, oh, yes, the way we are groomed and dressed.
At a recent lunch with two girlfriends we were discussing the sad affair of fashion. One friend observed that she sees women, sloppily dressed, toting overflowing shopping bags “full of cheap, fast fashion,” she said. “Don’t they realize the money they’re wasting and that they could buy a couple of really good pieces of clothing that would be flattering and last for years? There is something fundamentally wrong with the idea that accumulating ‘stuff’ is somehow satisfying.”
In fact, it’s depressing when you think about it. Maybe “saving money” and accumulating stuff offer an initial adrenaline rush, but as with most instant gratification (yes, I know there are exceptions. . .) it tends to leave us feeling unfulfilled.
At the same time it occurs to me that perhaps some women, for whatever reasons, want to make themselves invisible. Maybe they don’t like the way they look and they convince themselves that camouflage makes them disappear. They may be frightened to appear “dressed up” because it would draw attention to them.
Either way, they are being observed.
Oh, yes, I am quite familiar with the comfort argument. It seems comfort has eclipsed all that is sacred in the land of style. Forget about the prices on the outfit above. It is simply an argument to prove that comfort exists in many interpretations. The only element in the set that would take time would be letting the nail polishes dry — one color on the toes, the other on the fingers.
As for uniform dressing, I think it’s a brilliant way to solve a wardrobe conundrum. I define a uniform as those clothes we wear repeatedly that flatter us, the items that never let us down, our vestment security. That does not mean boring. On the contrary, it means we’ve defined our style.
I absolutely believe that the way we look, which means the attention and care we invest in our wellbeing, changes our lives. Look good, feel good. It’s as simple as that. Think of how we feel after a visit to our hairstylist, when we walk out with a great haircut and maybe color if we’re so inclined.
Maybe the terrifying word is not really style, but rather “stylish” — heaven forbid. What we must remember is that if we don’t care how we are perceived, that’s our style. That’s our brand.
It’s always a choice.