Is this fashionable?

Once I finished high school, I really wanted to start university; therefore I looked for a job and managed to get one in retail, so that I could pay for my education. It’s been three years now since I started, and in this time I have done a bit of barista work, even though mostly retail. I’ve met all sorts of people and had the opportunity to learn something about fashion – or, at least, colour matching – while having the time to think over the enviroment I work at, ask and be asked several questions.

Among those questions, one is particularly annoying..


Nope..! 😉 That’s not the one, even if it makes to the top five, no doubt!

The so-dreaded question I’m talking about is “Is this *item of your choice* fashionable?”

Now, you’ll say, this is a perfectly normal question: it shows interest, curiosity towards the latest fashions, no problem to see. Well, there actually is a problem to be seen. For what I’ve witnessed, the usual customer is not enquiring about the latest trends of our society out of curiosity, rather out of lack of self-confidence, critical thinking, and, consequently, of a strong personal identity.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not blaming anyone nor generalizing, but here’s my modest opinion: our society encourages the individual to absorb passively the clothes’ fashion, new trends and lifestyles most suitable for the economy. This unspoken rules impose a code which selects who’s in and who’s out: since no one really wants to be the outsider, the first instinct is to adapt to those social conventions, trends, slangs and attitudes considered normal, cool; but, beware, here’s the trap! This adaptation is not the one of Darwins’ On the Origin of Species, rather the creation of automatons – probably more similar to Brave new world.

However, you could legitimately object that thoroughly withstanding to fashion (not just clothing obviously) is impossible; and, indeed it is.

So why am I boring you with this long exhausting lecture? Why pointing out an issue which cannot be solved and that most people don’t even bother with? Well, because I do believe trends to be a major issue and because I’d like to share my personal solution to this problem. Clearly, I’m not the author of the solution’s content, even though I do agree with it. Let me briefly explain Georg Simmel‘s fashion theory to you: the author suggests that fashion has to be considered an expression of both the mass and the individual. People take part in fashion in order to adhere to a specific context and society, therefore to build their own identity as individuals in a society. This is called the element of imitation, which has to be balanced by that of distinction: in fact, every person wants to be a part of a group without losing its individual identity in it; therefore it is of vital importance to acquire the forms, expressions of fashion and shape them to make them our own.

Basically, what Simmel is suggesting is not to totally reject or adhere to fashion, because this would be the perfect way to establish its power and consider it an indipendent force. he best way to maintain your personal identity and keep it safe is, according to the philosopher, to take control of yourself by choosing which aspects of fashion most fit you. That’s the solution to be able to fit in a social context, understanding the time you’re living in, and not to become an automaton, rather a charismatic person.

So… take what you like and let go what you don’t! Don’t be afraid to follow the stream, but adopt your own way to swim!

Header picture: Helmut Newton

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Bibliography: Philosophie der Mode, Berlin: Pan-Verlag, 1905

20 Replies to “Is this fashionable?”

  1. I never followed trends. It took me a lot of courage to start wearing things I actually like fearing that the people from my surrounding wouldn’t accept me (it’s a pretty primitive one). But once I started, I feel better in my own skin and I don’t care what everyone around me has to tell. I’m wearing it, my opinion is only one that matters. I guess 🙂

    "Mi piace"

  2. I was really surprised to hear you get this question so often. I’ve never asked it haha. It’s a bit of a strange question. Because you also can’t answer ‘no’. I mean you’re selling it. So you can’t say I’m selling this but it’s not fashionable. ( would they be selling it if it wasn’t). And I totally agree : Buy what you like! You should feel good in what you wear.

    Piace a 1 persona

  3. I think I get it to often because in italy we do give a great deal of importance to fashion, therefore even if everything is fashionable, people want a clear distinction between something “okay” and the latest trends. It’s crazy, I know, but some girls and boys – especially teenager – feel an oppressing fashion-pressure. That’s why I wrote the article: it’s not about what you wear, rather how you wear it; charisma is intimately linked to one’s mind.

    "Mi piace"

  4. That was quite strange. I can never imagine myself as a customer asking this question to anybody. Haha. But yes there are all kinds of people around. I really like the presentation of the post. From the beginning it sounded interesting and continued to remain interesting.

    Piace a 1 persona

  5. That is a tricky question. I do agree with you, though. I do believe that fashion is an individual’s personal style and creativity. It doesn’t matter if the item is not in trend. It is how you wear it and how you flaunt it. An item is fashionable if you wear it with confidence despite the fact that it is so outdated. We have so many fashion styles that are from the 80’s and even from the 60’s, yet these fashion item still becomes a trend after a few years. It is a fashion cycle. They just had a bit more or improve it. So is an item fashionable? My answer would be yes. Every item is fashionable. It just depends on how you wear it. 😉

    xoxo, G

    Piace a 1 persona

  6. I am not sure what to think. I think everyone should wear not just things they are comfortable in but feel confident. So if that means following trends sure, but I agree that society has double standards when they say to ,,be yourself” but then ,,not like that”. So just love yourself, life is to short.

    Piace a 1 persona

  7. First of all, I love the pic about knowing you don’t have it in back. I worked retail during college so I can totally relate. The question of imitation versus distinction is definitely prominent and one I don’t think many people consider when choosing their wardrobe or how they dress on a daily basis. Most people, as you said, lack the confidence to really be individuals. I wish more people did though!

    Piace a 1 persona

    1. Me too, Melanie! That’s why I wrote this post, I’d like people to think over their choices and be aware of them being individuals, whom were given the chance to shape their own personality. I think external influence is inevitable, same happens with trends and tradition, but we can analyse them and take what we think is worth keeping.

      Piace a 1 persona


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