Style - it’s how we communicate, what does yours say about you?
It’s a very personal thing. What style relentlessly captivates your attention? What do you respond to? Have you ever experienced a style clash?
You know what I’m referring to, the unforgettable time when your “style” was inconceivably out of sync with the events surrounding you.
The little black dress with sequins was the perfect style for last night’s opening but just doesn’t reconcile with the starchy commuters on the “morning after” train ride home.
Most of us have our own personal version of style. I had an “inner city” friend who used to carry different clothes styles to change into depending on which part of town she was traveling through during her business day.
It seems since the beginning of time a consensus descends from lofty places on high, illuminating the style of the day. Humans respond emotionally to our personal style, personal style triggers something
deep inside us. Personal style is all about delivery and how we want to be perceived, and delivery is everything in the complex world of communications.
Getting it wrong can foil even the best intentions.
Is style genetic, acquired, or a little of both? Anyone watching father and son film stars like the Donald and Keifer Sutherland or Kirk and Michael Douglas can recognise an inherited “family style”. Like when you look in the mirror and see a reflection of your mother, some style is in the blood.
Back in the early days of film “style” was synonymous with “class”; always sophisticated refinement, conditioning the masses to see “style” a particular way. Step ahead half a dozen decades and twenty-first century liberalism stretches style to the limits of the imagination.
History also determines styles; war rationing shortened the style of women’s skirts; fabric was needed elsewhere. Men come back from the battlefield and continue to wear their “camouflage”.
Styles will endure, disappear, reappear, reverse, morph and improvise. But mostly style will be critiqued and judged.
The late great Joan Rivers made a career of critiquing style. In the sixties hair styles defined political views. In football arenas clothing styles defines support. Beach styles can give insight into someone’s comfort with their own body image or sexuality.
We all recognise the bad guy in the movies because of his style, along with the tough guy, the good guy, the poor guy, the wayward woman and the saintly mother, all based on biases about style.
Hitchcock loved to surprise us by toying with our biases about style. In his movies someone who looks like a heroine ends up being a villain.
You are no longer restricted by the conventional “good taste” celebrated for generations, today sees the lines of taste and style blurred beyond recognition.
It is a new world. It’s been said before “to each their own”, and “that’s their style”.
Supposedly we are finally tolerant of those different from us, those with a different style.
But it’s hard to undo years of conditioning. Which is it - glorify the individual or the collective?
This year politics and fashion agree; winning styles collaborate.
It’s all about blending the individual and the collective, right down to the strands of colour you wear in your hair.
The fun of different styles collaborating becomes most apparent while traveling.
I’ve visited Mexico and loved its romantic style; enchanting to the max and it added a dimension of “mañana” to my holiday point of view; procrastination perfected. I love the French style of taking hours for lunch, because I can sit and watch people all day while sipping coffee and eating croissants.
I love the Japanese style of kimono because it means keeping your bathrobe on all day is “OK”. I love the Greek style of smashing plates, because I hate washing up after tea. I love the American style of everything “My Way” and I love the way London Fashion Week brought all of these cultures together with grace, style and class so uniquely British.
Respecting the styles of others and improvising to suit ourselves is how we grow our culture?
Diversity is humanising isn’t it?