Ah yes, the age old discussion of fashion vs. style. To remind myself what the differences are before I started my ramblings, I did a quick Google and here are some formal definitions:

Fashion: a popular trend, especially in style of dress and ornament of manners of behaviour.

Style: A distinctive appearance, typically determined by the principles according to which      something is designed.

A decent answer to the question “What is the difference between fashion and style?” I found says that “style goes beyond just clothes… whereas fashion obsesses over the perfect proportions or rules of what to wear and when to wear it, style is an individual choice unique to how a person wants to present themselves and be perceived.” (www.pastemagazine.com)

It’s interesting how I had used these two terms interchangeably for a long time before I truly understood what each concept actually meant. It’s also worth noting that in the marketing world, these two terms are interchanged or certainly used in the wrong context all the time. Why? It’s to get us to buy stuff, stuff we don’t need but are persuaded to think we need. The industry caters to our longing to want to fit in, to be desired, to be accepted, to be “en vogue” or “in fashion”. But is fashion always stylish?

No, let’s get real, it definitely is not. I can certainly think of quite a few items of clothing, shoes or accessories that I have purchased or asked for that were terrible decisions in regards to my personal style. These clothes didn’t represent who I was, what I valued or flattered my figure. Sometimes, I even suffered through discomfort, an ill fit, impractical design or lack of function all for the sake of trying to be “fashionable”. The result of these efforts? A decent amount of stuff that got a single or handful of uses and then declared “mistake purchases” that haunted my wardrobe like useless, sometimes expensive, impractical ghosts.

I can say with confidence that my final straw with being a slave to fashion happened during my 2018 spring closet clean up. I would usually invest in a few fashion magazines, pour over the Internet and consult friends to seek out what was trendy in the Spring/Summer or Fall/Winter fashion seasons. In the beginning, I would go out and purchase a few items to spruce up the wardrobe and feel good about being somewhat “in” with the trends. Later, when I started reassessing my needs to buy new stuff, I started rotating the clothes I already owned in relation to what best fit the fashionable colours, cuts and fits of the season.

Even with this more reasonable method, I still found that so much stuff was just getting brought out during clean up days only to get put back into a storage bin, hopeful that next season would be its moment to shine again. There had to be a way to make the process even more efficient and cut down on the bags and bins of clothes taking up space in my limited condo storage locker.

It was also around spring 2018 that I finally became 100% happy with my physical appearance. There wasn’t a drastic change in weight or a nose job or anything tangible that triggered this. I just happened to glance at myself in the mirror after a post-workout shower and thought “damn girl, you are looking good!” I loved every inch of my body and wanted to own it. I didn’t want to bother trying to pull off low-rise jeans as my derriere was never a fan of that. I couldn’t bear the thought of trying to pull off big, billowy tops that hid my hourglass figure (cheers genetics!) and made me look like I was wearing a tent. Shorts and my thighs were waging war with each other for years but in a skirt or dress they looked oh so good. It was time to do my body a favour and solidify my style.

This was a pivotal point in my closet cleanups. I was now totally free from stockpiling stuff that I really had little motivation to wear or use. It just wasn’t me. I literally tried on every piece of clothing I owned and asked myself these questions:

  1. Is the colour and/or cut flattering to my skin tone and body shape?
  2. Does it fit well and am I comfortable?
  3. If something isn’t sitting quite right, can I get it altered?
  4. Do I feel like a hot little potato in it? Tried to channel my inner Mugatu here.

If an item didn’t pass ALL of these tests, it went into the bag for my next clothing swap. At the end of the weekend, I had a wardrobe that was 100% me. All key content with no frills or filler. I also had an entire shelf of free space in my storage locker downstairs as I had just one bag of seasonal clothing I would rotate out with the changes in weather or function. Not with changes in fashion trends.

Currently, I am still feeling great about a seriously reduced wardrobe and it’s an amazingly liberating feeling. My clothes now serve more than their primary purpose of keeping me decent in public. They represent me. I own my looks and I don’t let fashion labels and trends own me and my wallet. I finally feel stylish.

Be on the lookout for a post series titled “A Wardrobe of 100 Items”, where I made a goal of reducing my wardrobe down to only 100 items. I am a long way from getting there but I am excited to share this ongoing journey with you all.

If you can relate to this at all, please feel free to share your experiences! I am curious to see how others have approached this topic.

Sustainably yours,

Julia