OPINION: fashion vs. style: is there really a difference?

Fashion or style (Julie Tran)

Julie Tran

Throughout society, we hear people calling each other fashionable or stylish. Most people accept those two terms to be the same thing, but there’s a slight distinction with those words.

In a 2008 issue of InStyle magazine, actress Uma Thurman said, “Fashion is the machine that drives the business. Style, on the other hand, is an unconscious gift that money can’t buy. It’s being comfortable not only your own clothes, but your own skin.”

For many, wearing clothes is a way to express their emotions, their lifestyles, as well as what culture they belong to. In Orange County, many people find it extremely important to follow on the current trends the fashion world throws at us. From expensive brands such as Louis Vuitton and Chanel to chain stores such as H&M and Forever 21, many who reside in Orange County shop at these stores on a routine basis.

However, with all of the fervor of keeping up with the most popular brands, I see that a majority of the people around me wear the same look. Even if the person is wearing the most expensive or trendiest looking clothes out there, I don’t see a sense of individuality present. I do agree with the stereotyped assumption that fashion does have a significant influence on how people are viewed in the world, but in reality, fashion is an ever-changing entity.

The world of fashion is an extremely fast paced society in which one trend is born while another one dies. For example, at the turn of the 21st century, it was all about the bling. Track suits, polo shirts and the inevitable trucker hats were the must-haves for people to wear. Fast forward to today and the “hipster” look is the most popular trend with the skinny jeans, vintage cardigans, and the nerd glasses.

On the other hand, style is something that a person should embody and possibly create from within. When I consider a person to be stylish, that person should walk with a sense of confidence from the inside-out as well as have a sense of visual coordination. Clothes can make or break the person wearing them, but I feel it is also a personality factor that can contribute to the individual’s style.

For example, if one sees a female dressed in a retro shirt dress with black Mary Janes, that individual would probably think that she’s trapped in a different era. For that woman though, she can feel as if her true self is being exposed to the world.

Although there are some fashion trends that should go away (UGG boots, anyone?), there are some that retain a sense of timelessness and can be revised to cater to the next generation. The little black dress is one such example of clothing that stands against the fickle fashion world and has staying power. A designer can change the cut, embellishment, or fit of the dress and such simple changes can transform that article of clothing into something more.

Despite the fashion world’s fickle personality, individuals can take some aspects of a current trend and incorporate it into their wardrobes. That way, the person can possess an eclectic mix of clothes that can display the individual’s true colors.

So, I ask of you to drop your fashion magazines and be adventurous with your clothing choices. Mixing things up can provide excitement to the items you wear and can allow your personality to shine through.


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