22 June 2009

Part Five: Of Style


Where did you get your sense of style - is it genetic, or something learned?

My answer to this question relies solely on one's answer to the question - what is style? I therefore feel it prudent to first explore my own understanding of that word, before attempting to give any real answer. Indeed I have always felt that the meaning of the word style depends on the person who chooses to say it, and which context they choose to do so. For the most parts we use the word style, or the description of stylish, to simply imply good style. Yet I feel that this very specific implication removes one from being able to truly understand the word and its meaning.

We all have a style from the very moment we are born. Style evolves from the fact that we are all unique, and as such, it is not simply an aesthetically- or visually based concept. Rather I believe that it is something inherently far more metaphorically- or indeed existentially based.

Style is the way in which we choose to present ourselves to the world.


How can one present oneself well, if one does not first take the time to know oneself well? Having good style, is about feeling comfortable in who you are and therefore being comfortable in the fashion choices you make. Far too often people use clothing to provide an outer shell, allowing them an assumed identity to protect themselves from the world. It is used as a uniform with a pre-existing notion of character and personality, which is employed so that the wearer does not attract any real attention in asking who they truly are. One does not question the uniform of a simple suit, or the uniform of a grey tracksuit, for they carry a socially assumed implication of character.

If I do not feel comfortable in myself, I am not able to feel truly comfortable and confident in what I wear. Style may be but a momentary reflection of who we truly are, a mere glimpse at the depth of character which is hidden underneath. But it is also a window into the soul of a person. The way in which I choose to dress, the way in which I choose to conduct myself, the way in which I choose to write, the way in which I choose to relate to other people, the way in which I choose to phrase myself - these are all factors which make up our personal style.

What one needs to understand is that personal style, when applied in terms of fashion, is something which can never have a true constant. The very fact that we are living, means we can not simple take style as a standardised still concept. Our understanding of style is a contextual and relative one. We are ever evolving, changing, ageing, developing and growing. Style, like our very selves, is a fluid concept. How I choose to define myself today, is not the same way I chose to define myself ten years ago. Even the way I choose to define myself now, is not the same way I chose to define myself only a second ago.

Our understanding of style is unable to exist in the often expressed vacuum of time removed. That is not to say that one may not have a general style over a lifetime, however it is just that, a general trend. The very fact that who I am is constantly changing, not in the sense of the individual, but rather in the psychological, and indeed philosophical, sense means that my style must too be constantly evolving. The very fact that I may suddenly be inspired by a colour I see in front of me, will affect how I perceive the world, and as such affect how I perceive myself and what I believe my style to be.

Style does not only evolve by virtue of how we perceive the world, and our constantly evolving selves, but also due to our physical development. Our bodies change as we age, and thus so must our style. What suits my body now, may not suit my body in five or ten years time. One must adapt personal style so that it is manages to be relevant and contemporary, in keeping with how one's self develops. Even the smallest changes, such as how my skin tans in the summer can affect my choices, in that specific colours may not have quite the same meaning and feeling against me.

One can therefore see that style is as fluid a concept as the answer to the question of who I truly am. I am my style, and my style is me. It is the not simply the physical and materialistic extension of my self, but also how I perceive my self and how I relate to the world. Can that ever be something learned, or is it more a development of mind and self?

One can learn what colours compliment one's complexion, or what shapes and cuts compliment one's body. However one does not learn to have personal taste. It is both something we are born with, but also a combination of our memories, experiences and feelings. A newborn baby may have an inexplicable preference for a certain colour, despite only just having opened their eyes for the first time. One could attribute this immediate preference to the way in which that baby's eyes first perceive different colours or textures. How their brains interpret those messages and as such make a decision to reach out to and grow to like. However our likes and interests can not simply be defined as those scientific rationalisations, just as life can not truly be appreciated when thought of simply as a beating heart and brain activity. For does a heart transplant patient become the donor?

One can learn what flatters and what does not, and one can develop preferences to different choices. However it is not simply a collection of experiences and memories who make us who we are, and likewise style can not simply be seen as such, as something learned. Yet it is equally not purely genetic, just as our character and personalities can not simply be attributed to our genetic makeups. Our personal style is something we have from the moment we are born to the moment we die, however those two points are simply the start and end. Just like our lives pan out, so does the concept of our style. There may be general trends, but it is not a constant concept.

I am still learning what colours suit me, and am still learning what cuts and fits flatter me best. I like to experiment and push my own boundaries, not only to evolve my style, but also to learn more about myself. Fashion for me is often a process of self discovery. Trying to understand why I prefer a certain colour one moment, or why a certain garment seems to flatter me best, is part of the process of understanding my body. However it is also part of the process of exploring and understanding my identity, my character and my self.

Style and self are for me, essentially the same.


In terms of what or who I believe to have been the foremost influence on my personal style, that would have to be my father. My father is definitely a traditional gentleman and the way he taught and still teaches me to live and develop my self, has and always shall influence my fashion and style. He is the type of man who still bows when meeting ladies, and has never worn a pair of jeans in his life.

My father has been the greatest influence on my fashion, as he has always taught me the importance of being presentable. He taught me that presenting myself well does not only show self respect, but also respect for others. The way in which I choose to dress inevitably effects the way in which those around me will perceive me. If I do not dress in a presentable manner, it means that I do not care how those around me will perceive me. I show them a disrespect, however most of all, I show myself disrespect.

My father always maintains a presentable manner, even on the weekends. His uniform, if that is the word I may use, usually consists of a shirt, blazer, smart trousers with belt and leather shoes. Winter weather may also see the addition of a coat, sweater, woolen scarf and gentleman's hat. My father rarely buys clothing, and indeed the majority of his clothes are actually older than I am. He believes in buying classic pieces - wearing and caring for them for years to come. His style has always been smart and traditional.

The fact that my father has such a strong sense of style, and indeed a strong sense of character, are what I believe have helped me to become the person I am today. Although I may experiment far more in terms of my fashion, it is because I am still discovering myself and my own boundaries. Although his style has evolved as he has changed over the years, his general tastes have merely been adapted rather than radically shifting. I believe that is because he truly knows who he is and as such truly knows his own style. Although the path of self discovery never ends, he has a better idea of his path than I do. And it is due to that, that he has such a strong and defined sense of style. It is truly something that I admire, and thank him for teaching me and indeed influencing me with.


P.S. An extra special thanks to the wonderful Liz of It's Unbeweavable for allowing me to write a guest post for her blog - check it out here!

Currently playing: Decisions ft. Neyo - Brandy

xxxx

66 comments:

  1. Loved your guest post over at It's Unbeweavable! I'm so happy to have found your site- LOVE your blog!

    XO

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  2. I love Ur blog and Elizabeth's post is fantastic! LOL!

    XoXo

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  3. Cool about the guest posts. I suppose I'm not as 'stylish' as I could be. But I think it depends on the comfort zone. I do like something much more low key and natural. I like to incooperate the hats I make from time to time, too.

    So much you said, I hadn't really thought of before with style.

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  4. Hi there-a very insightful and interesting post. Style is certainly something unique and individual to us all, personally, I don't have a set style as such, I do like to invest in quality timeless items that over decades stand the test of fashion.

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  5. Hey Dapper Kid. I really enjoyed your guest post over at Liz's blog. It was wonderful. Thanks for posting another great article as well. You always do so well. I always enjoy seeing what your latest insights are on fashion and style. Have a great week. Cheers!

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  6. Wow I really enjoyed this post. I just love the words about your father, and the feelings of admiration that are presented there. My style is constantly evolving, which I feel is a direct correlation to the phase I am in my life right now: A mission to my self discovery! I think it will be so much fun to look back years from now and compare how my style has changed.

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  7. Thank you for your comment. Fabulous blog.

    FM~FP~AF

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  8. Really beautiful blog!

    Lovely post on style.

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  9. Very well put. Style is about sharing a piece of "who you are" with the world. Essentially, it is crucial to show your best self, no? Of course we all have off-days, only making us normal which is well accepted. And i knew you'd get a kick out of my scarves answer. ;)


    xo!!

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  10. well thats a way to put it!
    if there's one thing that drives insane
    is when people say they're into fashion.

    BUT .. its only because they know
    designer names, or because they wear
    the lates thing .. like those striped
    kanye sunglasses ahhhhh!

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  11. well thats a way to put it!
    if there's one thing that drives insane
    is when people say they're into fashion.

    BUT .. its only because they know
    designer names, or because they wear
    the lates thing .. like those striped
    kanye sunglasses ahhhhh!

    ReplyDelete
  12. well thats a way to put it!
    if there's one thing that drives insane
    is when people say they're into fashion.

    BUT .. its only because they know
    designer names, or because they wear
    the lates thing .. like those striped
    kanye sunglasses ahhhhh!

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  13. Thanks :P Hihi, I bet u would want that ! It was awesome ! :D
    Very good post here !!

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  14. I like the way you write, and the manner you describe your father's influence over you (:

    I agree that our style changes over time, and it is a way of expressing ourselves.

    xx

    www.inspirations.co.nr

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  15. Fabulous post, DK... you know I love your (hand)writing, and I just adore the way you talk so eloquently about the evolution of one's personal style!

    xoxox,
    CC

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  16. This was a really great interview! I also credit my mother (as you did with your father) with infusing a sense style to me at an early age.
    I always say this, but you are one of the bloggers I truly admire most!

    A pleasure as always!

    Brooke

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  17. "Style is the way in which we choose to present ourselves to the world. ": This phrase sais it all! Totally agree with you!

    I love how your thoughts are always so organised! The way you write is stimulating!

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  18. I adore you! I love how you mention how our style has to change as our bodies do.

    Thank you so much for the guest post! It's fabulous XOXO

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  19. i definitely believe that some style is innate
    We Were Damsels

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  20. I love how you define style, and you describe it so well. Oh, and your father sounds like a true inspiration!

    Xxx

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  21. So great that your father has been the greatest influence on the world of fashion...I'm afraid I can't say the same(hee*) Mine wears his pants way too high...and my mom is too mutli-floral-coloursss! Lovely new week DK... ~XO*

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  22. very well written, one can go on and on about style...

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  23. very well written, one can go on and on about style...

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  24. I love this blog the more I read it. This post is very insightful. I absolutely love it. I think I would like to put you on my blogroll =]
    It would be wonderful if you did the same.

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  25. nice book ends! style is mostly genetic and slightly, marginally, learned. you can't teach aesthetic. you got it or you dont!

    *bisous*

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  26. Well said/written.
    Great post.

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  27. Thank you for the comment on my blog! I added your blog to my blog roll. I will def be coming back to read more. You are a wonderful writer!

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  28. dude. where is your book deal?!?!? you write so well. and you are right-on on this stuff. :)

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  29. There's a quote I love by Madonna: "Style isn't something you put on, it's something you're born with." I think that is very true, but I guess it could always use some refining.

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  30. i think style is innate and learned. I have a sense of who I am but have learned to bring it out through trial and errors. : )

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  31. Just discovered your blog, and I love it! Quite insightfully written.

    -Shawna

    Shawna's Study Abroad

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  32. i'm frantically packing and going back and forth to my computer. i read this as i am desperately trying to figure out what to pack and i suddenly don't feel as stressed. "i choose to be myself". amazing.

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  33. (ON the Note) that is going on my facebook qoute wall! lol. thanks.

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  34. This is seriously wonderful. It pretty much sums up everything I've been trying to write about style, my style and myself for the past months, but I've never found proper words.

    And as I've been discovering my style, I've been uncovering who I am on the inside. And vice versa, which proves to me that style isn't just about clothes, name brands and even just what you're wearing. It's also about how it makes you feel.

    Now I'm really thinking and I love it, thanks! :D

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  35. Wonderful guest blog at Liz's place! So happy to have found your blog, you have a really great perspective on everything!

    I'm definitely putting your blog on my "syllabus" {blogroll}!

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  36. I totally agree with how our style evolves as we evolve

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  37. well said! you made me do some thinking... and I cannot agree more...

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  38. You explain your style inspiration so elegantly! I particularly enjoy reading how your father has influenced your style! Great piece of writing as always! xxoxoxo

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  39. I couldn't agree more... I think style is essentially self-presentation and in order to do that fully, you need to know yourself. Comfort and confidence in what you wear are the key, otherwise you're basically just wearing a costume. I also agree with what you said in your guest post about how to love someone you need to love yourself first and how the same applies to style (or in that case feeling sexy). You shouldn't really rely on others to be happy and likewise you shouldn't rely on clothes to make you who are you... you need to figure that out first and have that confidence - then adapt your outfit accordingly. Style is ever-evolving as we are, but that's the beauty of it :) Hope you're having a great week so far!

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  40. OMG I love your handwriting. If that is your handwriting, but why would anyone have stunt handwriting?

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  41. i like your discription of style.

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  42. I definitely agree, personal style can be so tricky to pin point and you're right, it is ever changing. I certainly don't have the same 'style' as I did a few years ago.

    Your handwriting is so neat!

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  43. i really like how you describe your father, he seems like a really cool guy!

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  44. i really like how you describe your father, he seems like a really cool guy!

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  45. DK like you i dont think one can know ones style till one becomes aqainted with self. brilliant post. personal sty;le is a reflection of ones personality,self etc.
    x
    Marian.

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  46. Congrats about the guest post, that's awesome :)

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  47. Hey its been a while since I was here=) Hope everything is great=) I bought a new camera so I don't gonna have any free time from know!

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  48. "If I do not feel comfortable in myself, I am not able to feel truly comfortable and confident in what I wear."

    That is outrageously true - and I think we've all been through times where we've experienced that.

    I really love how you described your father's sense of style and how it had evolved in comparison to your own. We will all go through our own sort of "fashion evolution", I suppose you could say, throughout the years. Eventually we will find a certain style that fits us just right.

    xo,
    hk

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  49. that last note.. so true.

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  50. I don't know what to say. I am speechless! This must be the best text you have ever written. I could not agree more! ^^
    Your handwriting is so lovely <3

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  51. I really love this post, one of my best!! I think style reflection of who we truly are--like you said, "...a mere glimpse at the depth of character which is hidden underneath. But it is also a window into the soul of a person"
    love it Dapper
    xoxo

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  52. I love this post.... I never really though about what style is to me and how our external look represents our internal state.

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  53. wow, i know i say this all the time, but you seriously have such a way with words!! your posts are always a joy to read. (:

    and about that awkward story you shared... haha, it really made me laugh- i can't believe she stroked your hair! i love people.

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  54. very inspiring, well written!

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  55. Aw that's so sweet what you said about your father. He sounds like a real gentleman.

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  56. Wow, I find it incredible how much thought you put into topics like these but I also agree completely with everything you've written. Posts like these make me smile because it's nice to remember how much depth there actually is behind things involved with an industry that is usually perceived as being rather shallow, if that makes sense.

    P.S. You have wonderful handwriting.

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  57. I adore you, your blog, your comments, and these answers!

    I totally agree with you on everything (: And it's always best to be overdressed than under! For school I always seem to be well overdressed in comparison to the other girls: I do love my pumps & high waisted bandage minis!

    bisous,
    La C.

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  58. It's so refreshing to find a blog that writes about the philosophy of fashion instead of posting billions of photos and calling it a day.

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  59. You are a brilliant writer yknw?! I am always amazed by your writings.

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  60. I totally agree with your opiion on stlye. I think that there are a billion different ways to pinpoint the definition of what is style, and i think you hit the nail on the head :)

    xoxo

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  61. Hun, I loved this post, it seemed to me as if you were writing in a great way what I think!
    " I like to experiment and push my own boundaries, not only to evolve my style, but also to learn more about myself. Fashion for me is often a process of self discovery."
    Love it.....
    Now I think you know why my blog's name is "Searching the inner me..." and talks about fashion also ;)

    Oh and loved your guest post on Lizzie!!!!!

    Take care, all the best

    xoxo

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