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FASHION & FASHIONABLE; IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES?

Vicky Kavanagh on what it means to be “fashionable”

The definition of the word “fashion” as a noun states that it is “a popular trend, especially in styles of dress, ornament or behaviour”. But for me, and you, our dear readers, it is so much more.

I was asked the other day why I love fashion so much; how am I continuously enthralled by clothes? I paused for a moment before I answered. Not because I was trying to think of an answer, but because I was trying to condense my answer down. I view how I dress as an extension of myself; my personality, my mood and my approach to the world. As I was growing up and realised I was, quote-un-quote, different, I embraced it; I stopped apologising for not fitting in to some cookie-cutter expectation that people had of me. Throughout this evolution, fashion was an enjoyable way for me to express myself.

The way I see it, some people go to galleries to admire inanimate paintings and can have an emotional reaction to that. Fashion and style is daily, moveable art. So if the clothes we choose to wear are a much more personal and individual manifestation than initially thought, what exactly does it mean to be “fashionable”?

Given that “what’s in” changes with the wind, it’s not an easy concept to pin down. Oscar Wilde believed that “fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months”. Harsh words but there’s a nugget of wisdom in there. Like any other business, the fashion world survives on money. Financially, it is in their interests to continuously change and develop trends and push the next big thing on the unsuspecting consumer – and we are merely cogs in the corporate machine. Hmm, that doesn’t really sit with me.

While those of us who are devoted to fashion and style take inspiration from trends, we don’t live and die by them. If you’re truly in to fashion, you’re not afraid to carve your own path. I still have plenty of lace in my wardrobe that I will continue to wear; even though it’s so Louis Vuitton 2010. I’ve been in to sequins ever since I was able to pick up a glitter-glue pen. And even though they seem to have exploded everywhere, I will not be buying a pair of platforms any time soon.

Does that make those of us who aren’t slaves to the dichotomy, unfashionable? I don’t believe so. If you’re only wearing something because the It designer of the moment featured it in their collection, then you’re missing the whole point of fashion; this magical world where anyone can become a member, because it’s the world you live and breathe in every day. It’s not contained on the catwalks or in the pages of Vogue, it’s on the streets and in your wardrobe and your favourite shops. If getting a thrill out of finding a vintage dress for €10 makes me unfashionable because chiffon has been done to death, then stitch a label on my forehead. Francis Bacon Sr once said, “Fashion is only the attempt to realise art in living forms and social intercourse.” I’d rather ne that interpretation of “fashionable” any day!

 

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