Would you rather have a signature style or an ever-changing look?
I've always admired people who have a uniform.
I'm not talking about soldiers, or nurses, or any of the hundreds of other professionals who have ACTUAL uniforms, here (Although I admire those people for other reasons): I'm talking about those people who have a style which is identifiably THEIRS. Audrey Hepburn. Dita Von Teese. Hell, even someone like Amy Winehouse, with her huge beehive and messed-up ballet flats. I don't have to actually admire the uniform itself, you see, to admire the fact of its existence: the idea that the person wearing it has created a "signature style" that is instantly identifiable, in the sense that when you see something in that style in a store, say, you think, "That's SO Audrey/Grace/Gaga/whatever."
A signature style is not about "fashion"
This, for me, is what personal style is all about. It's something very different from fashion. Fashion is about following trends, and changing your look from season to season, at the whim of those who dictate the changing trends. Anyone can follow fashion, and flit from one look to the next, and, of course, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. It can be fun to experiment with different looks: to try them on for size, before moving onto the next one, then the one after that. In the world of fashion, this is the kind of behaviour that's most admired, and for obvious reasons - if people didn't crave something different every season, a whole lot of fashion houses would lose an awful lot of money. That's why "fashionistas" are encouraged to always be "edgy": to be constantly thinking about "changing things up" and coming up with looks that are totally different from anything they've worn before.
For me, though, the people whose style I most admire are the ones who have a very coherent look, and who rarely stray too far from their own recognised aesthetic - their signature style. It's how people tend to behave in "real life", after all. Most of us don't radically change our style from day to day, or worry that our co-workers won't find us "unexpected" enough. We don't really care if people are "bored" by the fact that we ALWAYS wear a certain style of dress, because we know what we like and what suits us, and we don't see the point in wearing something different just for the sake of it: it would be like dressing up in someone else's clothes. And not in a good way, either.
Experimentation is the best way to develop your own style...
That's not to say people should never change, and should simply stick to the same old, same old for the rest of their lives, obviously. Of course not. It can be fun to experiment with different styles, and a change really is as good a rest: if we didn't ever experiment, we'd never be able to find our signature style in the first place, after all - or we'd run the risk of settling on something that wasn't really "us". But I will always defend the people who have a "uniform", as long as they're not too rigid about it. (It's pretty silly, after all, to insist on always wearing heels, say, even when they're not remotely practical, or to refuse to ever try on a pair of trousers because your "look" revolves around dresses: that kind of narrow outlook is how you end up wearing a costume, rather than a uniform...) Some might consider them boring, or uninspired but with a few exceptions, I will generally just see them as having the confidence to know what they like and stick to it. It's OK to have a signature style - even although some people will always consider it to be a fashion faux-pas.
What about you: do you have a signature style, or do you prefer to change your look regularly?
[A TFP Op-Ed by Amber McNaught | Image: PRPhotos.com]