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27-07-2004
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It's My Style and I'm Sticking to It
Tell trends to take a hike?

Quote:
It's My Style and I'm Sticking to It
By CATHY HORYN

Published: July 27, 2004


With few rules left to govern it, and self-discipline an old-hat concept, fashion now encourages people to assume an identity without actually having one of their own. Young women seem most susceptible to this form of identity theft, to judge by the number who participate in reality shows that involve a scalpel and the promise of Britney Spears's chin. But the reluctance to create an original and distinctive look, one that gives a face to personality, isn't limited to young women. Fashion designers are also losing their identities, that thread of continuity that runs through their collections. To ask who Marc Jacobs is this season is to ask which famous designer or artist recently captured his attention.

Against this background of constant change, heightened by magazine covers that seem to have adopted the biblical practice of stoning readers (Lucky, "663 Great Finds"; Teen Vogue, a paltry "85 Killer Fashion Finds"), women with a constant style hold an almost secret advantage — morally, aesthetically, politically.

To look at Laura Bush, with her neat, unvarying hairstyle and penchant for tailored clothes, is to wonder if she subscribes to Lady Astor's line: "What a boring thing it is to try to look pretty." But unlike her predecessor in the White House, who bobbed from style to style, Mrs. Bush found a look that suited her (now mostly from Oscar de la Renta) and stuck to it. She has managed to silence the conversation about her clothes, which is the boring thing.

In the late 1950's, several years before American women adopted Jacqueline Kennedy's style en masse, the New York socialite Anne Slater hit upon the look she still has today. It was based on two remarkably simple details: a brushed-back hairstyle she could manage at home and a pair of cobalt-blue tinted eyeglasses she could wear day or night, and in lieu of dangling earrings. Thus the blue cat's-eye glasses became her signature ornament. She bought 36 pairs from a Philadelphia optician, and was only mildly alarmed when told, much later, that the Lucite frames couldn't be manufactured any longer because they were flammable.

"I thought that was the dumbest thing," she said. "How many times have you heard of someone's eyeglasses being set aflame?"

But perhaps the most advantageous aspect of Mrs. Slater's look is that you can't determine her age by it. She does not look much different today than she did in a photograph taken in 1965 on a New York dance floor, a self-awareness she has in common with a younger generation of women, most obviously the writer Amy Fine Collins and Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue. When told that five decades is a long time to hold onto one look, Mrs. Slater replied with a laugh, "I know it is, darling."

Why do the current crop of young socialites and actresses feel the need to change their look so often when most icons have been worshiped for their constancy? Referring to Paloma Picasso, Linda Wells, the editor of Allure, said, "It takes a lot more work to have such a look, but also more willingness, and that's unusual today." She added that such a fixed look, even allowing for softening — a smudged eyeliner instead of a liquid one, a sheer lipstick instead of matte — doesn't jibe with today's more casual attitudes.

The hairstylist John Barrett — who once tried to budge Ivana Trump out of her golden beehive, only to be told, somewhat regally, "It's what people expect of me" — suggests that we live in "a how-to age," one that essentially encourages conformity. "There's a book, a TV program, to tell you how to do everything," he said.

Not surprisingly, many women with an individual look find it liberating. "It's never being in fashion or out of fashion," said Ms. Collins, whose boyish haircut is complemented by Geoffrey Beene clothes. For Ms. Collins, the "big leap" came when she decided to cut her hair shorter, exposing her ears. "Because large ears, I was always told, shouldn't be shown," she said. "And what you learn is that it's another quality that distinguishes you."

Ms. Collins suggests that the test of an identifiable look — one that is, in effect, a stamp — is whether it can be easily drawn, even as a caricature. "These girls today — imagine an artist having to draw them," she said, drawing a circle in the air with her finger, presumably the head of a stick figure.

Yet many young women are realizing, on their own, that style equals identity. "I'm a black woman who is a size 10 in a business where everyone is white and a size 4, at the biggest," said Beverly Smith, 37, the director of fashion advertising for Rolling Stone, who describes her style as "uptown glamorous" — Harlem by way of Pucci and Dolce & Gabbana. "I get really noticed."

Rita Konig, a London-based writer, observed, "If you're not naturally beautiful, then you have to be more clever." For Ms. Konig, 30, that means waisted dresses and the tweedy styles, especially from Prada and Miu Miu, that remind her of her grandmother's wardrobe. Indeed, she is so drawn to the elegance of the 1950's that she would "literally wear a hat and gloves if it didn't make me look like a twit."

Contacted last week at her office at Estée Lauder, Poppy King, the color designer for Prescriptives, described herself as having "change fatigue." Her style has remained constant since she was a teenager — pale skin, deep red lips, leopard prints and vintage florals. It has served as such a good conversational gambit that she can't imagine not having a signature. "To me," said Ms. King, 32, "it's so obvious that I think, `Why aren't more people on to this.' "
(forgive me if this has already been posted, I didn't see it...)

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27-07-2004
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i've alwayse thought i had to adopt a 'signature' style... that all the most identifiably stylish women had a particular hairstyle and 'look' that they had for years...but i never found one that was 'IT'...i get bored and i like many things... i definitely veer more towards a bohemian feeling than a buttoned up one...but i don't have a 'uniform'... it seems like an old-fashioned idea these days...

thanks for the article tangerine...

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27-07-2004
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My wardrobe inherited a multiple personality disorder.

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27-07-2004
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not surprisingly...ha!...

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28-07-2004
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i think if you look at your style over time, everyone has a distinctive style.

I sure know I do.

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28-07-2004
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For me at least, in what I wear as well as what I like, there is a common thread, but my style is always evolving. Right now I want my father's old black overcoat for the winter where as two years ago, I wouldn't be caught dead wearing "grown up clothes".......

I think if you look really closely, everyone has a signature, even if that signature is change.

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28-07-2004
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i have a quite distinctive personal style,
mainly on hair , make up & shoes
(hair almost always up with chopstick + dark red lips + eyebrows + flat shoes since i'm quite tall) but my wardrobe keeps a certain variety, depending on my moods

i admire women (and men) that stick to what suits them best
but they need to keep a balance from becoming a caricature of themselves.
(at one point i felt like one myself, but its safely in control now )

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28-07-2004
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lena@Jul 28 2004, 05:10 PM

but they need to keep a balance from becoming a caricature of themselves.


couldn't agree more...

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28-07-2004
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Quote:
Originally posted by strawberry daiquiri@Jul 27 2004, 07:26 PM
My wardrobe inherited a multiple personality disorder.
[snapback]316715[/snapback]

lol, mine too.

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28-07-2004
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Quote:
Originally posted by Spike413@Jul 28 2004, 06:39 AM
For me at least, in what I wear as well as what I like, there is a common thread, but my style is always evolving. Right now I want my father's old black overcoat for the winter where as two years ago, I wouldn't be caught dead wearing "grown up clothes".......

I think if you look really closely, everyone has a signature, even if that signature is change.
[snapback]316996[/snapback]

So well said, I'm just going to agree with you.

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28-07-2004
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What do you think? Find what works and hang on or trend about with every breeze? What's your signature?




A consistent sense of style keeps the author Amy Fine Collins looking like no one else.



Ms. Collins in 1994.



Poppy King, constant since her teens, is one of the few young women who understand the importance of a signature

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28-07-2004
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mmm...this was posted already...

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28-07-2004
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I posted the same article in Personal Style and find it very funny that it is posted here in Trend Spotting. Since when is staying the same a trend? I'm definitely one for the long term, signature look though I'd be hard pressed to describe it. It's just me.

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28-07-2004
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ha...yes...irony indeed...

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29-07-2004
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i moved it to trendspotting, its all my fault

somehow i believe the topic belongs in the trend discussions, much more
since it questions the effect of trends in our personal style.

the way a see it, having a certain personal style and sticking with it, does not mean one looks the same all the time, or keeping a certain unchangable wardrobe.
It's more 'adaptation' of the trends to your own look, with continuity .
It does not mean one becomes boring or repetitive, just sticking with basic points of one's wardrobe and makeup/hair/accessories that one likes and enjoys, even if/when they are not 'trendy'

Somehow we will see more of this attitude catching on, true, it will become a kind of trend, but how refreshing would that look to my eyes.
Its so very extra ultra boring when everyone looks the same as the next person.

e.g. lipshine. Since it became 'hot' few seasons ago,
everyone is wearing it, even when it does suit their lip shape.
(i have full lips that look gross when even bigger if i try lipshine)

my point is, not every trend is for everyone.
trend followers need something personal to hang on to.

the rise of personal style, is an extention of the vintage trend, of the 'eccentric' and the 'one of a kind' trends that just due to the general, global uniformity are naturally on the rise.

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