What Do Fashion and Style Mean to You?

Do you ever feel uncomfortable admitting that clothes matter?  Sometimes I feel silly – after all, we’ve heard that what’s truly important is inside.  I remember disliking how an old boyfriend dressed, and I never mentioned it.  How to bring up something so personal and arguably trivial?  Yet I couldn’t pretend I didn’t care.

WomeninclothesWomen in Clothes is a book that takes the conversation seriously, and devotes pages to how fashion and style impact women’s lives.  It’s a fascinating topic.  Style affects my confidence, body language, interactions, and is rooted in my history.  In college I befriended a man I dated in high school.  In discussing how we’d changed he mentioned that I dressed much better!  My college friends dress beautifully, and strongly influence my own style (as does my mom, grandmother, sister, and others).

Around a thousand women answered questions for the book, questions that reveal how important clothing is.  How does your cultural background influence how you dress?  Is taste or style more important?  Money?  What did you learn about dressing from your parents?

They discovered that about five percent of women interviewed didn’t care about clothes.  I wonder what that number is for men.  Many men I know dress with great intention.  I imagine that caring changes with age and circumstances for women and men.

But I don’t think you can talk about clothes without talking about consumerism (at least in the U.S.).  Dressing well requires having things, and part of that can mean wanting, coveting, craving, and ultimately consuming new/better/more things.  I love outfit-watching (like people-watching, but for outfits!) to get ideas and appreciate all the combinations out there.  But sometimes it leads to me wanting something I would not have thought of otherwise.

What does style mean to you?  Is there a certain piece or accessory that’s particularly special?  How do you balance dressing well with minimalism?

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About Eva

I make your online business project better. I write about careers, being, productivity, and money.
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4 Responses to What Do Fashion and Style Mean to You?

  1. starfish says:

    I still can’t call myself a true minimalist, but I like the idea of simple living more and more, so for me clothes have to be long-lasting, a neutral style instead of the latest fashion, and they have to be comfortable, flattering, versatile, easy to mix and match, and if possible either thrifted or from ethical sources. My wardrobe does not perfectly cover all this, but when I buy new things I try to keep this list in mind. I don’t want to own a ton of clothes I neither like nor use!
    Just a few days ago when I went to the thrift store to find a winter coat I fell in love with a gorgeous knitted hoody jacket instead. It’s new or as good as new, made from wool, and was handcrafted somewhere in Scandinavia. It’s perfect for autumn with its muted shades of red and a little white, brown, green, and orange. Two sizes too big for me, but still my friends have complimented me on finding something so beautiful and fitting my type, which doesn’t happen all the time. It’s so special and lovely (like a beautiful cuddly blanket you can wear!) and makes me really happy; I hope it will endure many autumns and winters!
    For me, style is a matter of matching clothes to type and personality instead of always trying to look like the mannequins in the store windows. Feeling truly well and looking good in a few favourite items makes it much easier to forego the next frustration induced shopping spree! I can’t say I don’t care about my appeareance, because I feel much more confident and at peace when I like how I look in my clothes while still feeling comfortable.
    And one of the positive things about thrifting is that I don’t have to pay a lot of money for my clothes, so when I feel like changing my style I can easily donate a few pieces and replace them, therefore the overall number of items in my closet doesn’t fluctuate too much; e.g. the hoodie jacket mentioned above replaced a fleece jacket I bagged for donation the day before.

    • Eva says:

      What do you think a “true minimalist” is? I suppose it’s all relative – I have more and less than many other people. I think it’s a mindset almost as much (or more?) than the number of things you own. What do you think?

      I agree with “long-lasting, neutral, comfortable, flattering, versatile, easy to mix and match, thrifted and ethical!” I may have to quote you some day. Feeling truly well is the goal and clothes have to do with that – I don’t think that’s shallow : )

      • starfish says:

        For me a “true” minimalist is trying to keep all areas of their life simple and uncluttered. But I like some kinds of stuff, for example I’m keeping tons of paperwork from university and physical copies of books (still buying more of them) instead of saving them digitally, and our apartment is really cluttered most of the time. We don’t give away all these lots of dishes and clothes we don’t need, but put them on seperate shelves “in storage” (a concept hated by some minimalists I know online) so we don’t see them all the time, but they are still there. Yes, I try to get rid of things, but I’m also very attached to heaps of my old drawings, broken electronics, and clothes from 10 years ago! (Not to mention my husband’s whole boxes and bags of electronic junk.) We have less clutter than the average US citizen, I guess, but still a lot for young academic Europeans. I still hope to learn to keep only what I really love and need, as I read somewhere that the human brain isn’t fully formed until the mid-20s so this is when the final personality emerges; and truly these days it’s easier for me to know what is and will be important in my life, so I’m learning to let go, slowly.
        Have you ever read blogs like “living lagom” which promote the “just right/lagom” concept instead of “as little as possible/100 possessions”? Plus, I just love the term “simple living”, it makes me think of cozy warm spaces and simply happily living down to earth.

      • Eva says:

        I hear what you’re saying! I do read Living Lagom and I love the concept of “just right,” rather than sticking with an arbitrary number. I certainly store several boxes of clothes off-season and I want my living space to be pleasing, so I have decor. I find minimizing to be a loooong process. I go through my things every few months, and each time am ready to let go of something I wanted to keep before. I agree with you – simple living is the goal!

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