In my opinion, clothes are what we wear to keep ourselves warm and protected from the elements. Style, however, has social foundations. Style has to do with consensus – trends and aesthetics that have been agreed upon by multiple people – and with etiquette, relationships, and perceptions. Even those who have style that is as far as possible from the accepted norms have it, at least in part, because their peers acknowledge it. You don’t need style to move through human society, you just need clothes. But the people who are actively interested in style and in being stylish will always be fascinated by rules, flattery, trends, and techniques of building outfits. Those things tap the social aspects of style.
Originally posted 2013-10-02 06:36:21.
Amanda e-mailed me this request:
I was wondering if you consider doing a blog post or offer some advice on styling long cardigans so they don’t look frumpy. I just bought my first one [and] it seemed like a good way to convert some of my summer dresses into fall or winter ensembles, and I see outfits with long cardis that I just love on other people. But I’m not sure what I think about making ti work for me. I’m on the tall side with a proportional curvy figure. The cardigan I bought is nice (and I love the belt that comes with it), but it has pockets that make it not lie super-flat over the hips. And basically it just didn’t look quite “right” when I tried it with some of the dresses I’d been thinking of.
Originally posted 2012-02-21 06:11:10.
In a comment on this post about clothing details that read as young or old, reader Jane asked for some tips on how to avoid looking dated. Datedness is a social construct, of course, reinforced by a fashion industry that sells us new clothing based on our desire to look “current.” This means it is, in essence, bunk. But the same could be said of any dressing mores: They allow us to be expressive and visually communicative, but they’re all rooted in capitalism. It shouldn’t matter one whit if you’re wearing a blazer that was made 20 years ago, so long as it fits and is in good condition … but because of the value we place on youth and staying up-to-date on everything, it does matter. In some cases, it matters several whits.
Originally posted 2015-06-04 06:59:19.