It’s 2021, you can throw the idea of a ‘Personal Style’ to the trash
Confused on what your personal style is? Here's the catch, you have more than one.
KRUTI SHAILESH KANASKAR
This is coming from someone frustrated with the term, thus here’s my official resignation letter from this full-time job of finding one. We’re all trash trying to get out of the bin anyway.
The first article on my google search defines personal style as ‘the way an individual expresses themselves through aesthetic choices such as their clothing, accessories, hairstyle, and the way they put an outfit together.’
Here’s where they go slightly wrong, stating ‘Someone who is stylish may or may not follow fashion trends, but they always stay true to their own aesthetic’.
What the hell is an Aesthetic?
In the most vague way I can put it, an aesthetic in terms of fashion would be a collection of pieces that go together with each other. It makes us feel put together, even if our life’s falling apart if we look over the materialistic chiffon dress we have.
‘Okay hello, what’s with the passive aggressive remarks?’ Here’s the deal: a curated style-sense is supposed to help us NOT think about clothing. It came as a term to aid us in finding a niche for ourselves to not fret over ‘what to wear’ every single day. Yet we end up doing exactly that.
The Underlying Issue
Here is the exact problem if you’re on the search for a personal style:
You’re scrolling through your daily reels and feed, taking screenshots of great outfits every now and then.
You see a great fit and want to be an e-boy with those cute highlights and edgy accessories? Okay, take two years making an income to afford that shit. But shoot now the trend is too old and kind of cringe, and also everyone’s doing it so it’s not my personal style.
Down the lane you also figured it’s still too lustful to dress in public according to your own people, let alone molesters on the street. So now you can’t wear that look anyway. Plus, now you’ve started to like those graphic vintage greens and tans. Let’s look at some sites selling vintage clothes and white Nike Airs.
This is what happened with me and my fashion sense in the past couple of years. By the time I understood the e-boy trend, it was already over. Self-reflection made me realize I still would like to dress up that way, but now I am on the brink of graduating out of college, and investing in some workwear would definitely be worth more than buying stripes tees and silver waist chains.
TLDR, Your personal style should NOT be in one aesthetic bubble.
You’ll eventually get bored and look out for new clothes to fit your new aesthetic, calling your previous one a phase, leading to more clothes in your wardrobe which you won’t wear, or your situations would just not make your aesthetic-calling a fit to be worn in your community. Either way, Isn’t this the exact opposite of what we were rooting for?
Contradictions and their Counters
Allow me to pontificate over my previous statement with the exact reasons as to why we yearn for a personal style to develop, and why it won’t work. Ask yourself the psychological reason behind you stating these:
“It’ll keep my closet organized”
It’s understandable that keeping everything under one bracket of color schemes, graphics or even prints can make it easier for you to dress on a daily basis.
But what if you want to wear it girly one day and then turn into a skater aesthetic the next. Soon you’ll also notice you don’t have the pleated skirts and blazer to pull off the preppy look for that interview and your jewellery is all gaudy which matches the punk aesthetic, now what?
The whole situation seems more and more like a paradox the deeper you analyze it.
The solution: Buy elements, not iconic pieces
Blouse on the right can be more versatile in pairing with aesthetics other than Cottage core. However, the left one can only be used as a statement piece, so if you’re not interested in making Cottage Core your life aesthetic, it’s best to choose the subtle right blouse.
You have different places to be each day (unless you’re settled with a proper job then I guess you can go ahead with the aesthetics which suits your work environment).
Have the basic elements of different aesthetics in your collection, instead of buying one pair of jeans which speaks rock all over it which you won’t be able to wear in any formal setting.
“I won’t need to think too much every morning”
An extension of the first statement, theoretically, it won’t require much brain power to style yourself if you only have straight fit jeans and plain crop tops. Still, would you want to be in a minimalist style all your life?
The solution: Make Mistakes
If you decide to have basic elements of various aesthetics, then it can get a bit overwhelming to pair stuff to look put together. Take a few minutes in the morning (or the night before) to create an attire you feel suits you for the day.
There have been times when I saw a fit which looked good on that Pinterest board, yet extremely uncomfortable on myself (and the added glares I got for showing my midriff on a busy Indian street), but hey, you won’t know what works unless you try. Plus, you won’t be stuck in one aesthetic for a lifetime.
“I’ll be able to use my complete wardrobe”
Sure you will, tell that to me when you don’t grab the same grey t-shirt with blue jeans (or worse, nothing) for your next Google Meet.
Keeping myself bonded to an acceptable aesthetic only led me to find pieces which were best in that, and I wore them to the point they didn’t have a few holes in them and some more.
The solution: Figure out details you like, and buy more of it
This may feel like a broken record, but we all have a niche in each aesthetic. For example
- E-boy trend: I gravitate to the waist chains and striped tees, not a big fan of the belts and lock necklaces.
- Vintage: Love the greens, not the tans
- Cottage core: nothing. I won’t wear the heavy-detailed blouse enough because it’s a statement piece (in order words, it can’t be versatile enough for me to wear daily).
- Dark Academia: Attracted to gingham and plaids, collared shirt with sweater over it. Uncomfortable in long skirts though.
Combining the elements I find in my niche can give me a ‘personal style’ yet be drifted away form any of the over-saturated, established subcultures.
Forget aesthetics, aim for your definition of perfection (in one outfit)
Find what works for you: the prints, fabrics, buttons, jewelry etc. Maybe that grey t-shirt has a fabric that suits you, or you find comfort in it’s long sleeves. The next time you go to a store, find a tee that has exactly that, but maybe in vintage green or tan colors.
“I won’t shop more”
The only way you cannot shop more is if your mum bought clothes two sizes larger for you, saying you’ll grow in it.
Whether you choose to find a strict personal style or not, you will end up buying clothes to an extent. If you deal with a shopping addiction, then that is a different case to tackle.
The solution: Buy when there is a lack
Go to the store when you feel that a specific pant style is missing in your wardrobe, and fight the urge to buy ten different trendy tops you see on the hangers. Trends are not meant to last anyway. Have a plan, buy when there is a lack.
Food for thought, Is your personal style even ‘personal’?
I get it. Trying to make an aesthetic for yourself is hard as f*ck.
Beyond our color-coded Instagram feed, we are dynamic individuals with extremely different interests, hobbies and goals all clubbed up into one human being. I have the option to wear tennis skirts but also take up boxing, or swim with my waterproof makeup on.
We are not defined by just one Instagram collage post showing you the latest succulent plants and drawing notebooks, ’cause you may like that AND enjoy rock music. We are also not our one-time makeovers.
Even in the ending of mean girls we see how everyone got rid of the excessive pink except for Karen, showing that she was true to herself, the rest were just following an ideal of ‘femininity’ of the time.
The trends we see are not cohesive either, what Iris Van Herpen had to show this season was nothing like Schiaparelli! They ditched having one aesthetic for a season, you can too.
(The original article was published on Medium.)
KRUTI SHAILESH KANASKAR
Aspiring Fashion Journalist | Runways, movies and style reviews with occasional opinions