This week, I started an Instagram overhaul. After hovering around 850 followers for well over a month, I realised that something was wrong, beyond the changes to the algorithm. I browsed endlessly through my favourite accounts, all of which sit pretty at 40,000 followers at the very least, and wrote down what makes them work for me. Cohesive editing styles, niche content, engaging captions etc. We all know the drill by now, and after changing my editing process and posting almost exclusively outfit photos twice a day every day, I’ve gained 60 followers over the last few days. It’s not a lot, but it’s enough to see that I’m doing the right thing for growth. Despite this, when looking over my grid last night, I noticed something that sets my account apart from my favourites: I don’t have any kind of recognisable personal style.
PLAYING DRESS UP
From playful dungarees and geek glasses to statement colour clashing to minimal colours and patterns, I flit from one thing to the next. I love every outfit I put together, but in general, the way I dress looks different to the way I’d like to dress. A neutral wardrobe with good quality, high end basics – even a few classic designer pieces – is the dream. Over on Pinterest, I spend hours pinning images of the outfits I’d love to wear, but unfortunately, my current budget doesn’t really cater to the items that catch my eye, so I do my best with what I’ve got. I rarely stray away from denim, stripes and neutrals, and when I do, it’s usually a statement item that speaks for itself.
THE DRAW OF FAST FASHION
Despite this, my wardrobe can hardly be called cohesive, and I think that’s down to a few reasons, the first being the draw of fast fashion. Retailers like ASOS, Mango and Zara churn out hundreds upon hundreds of new pieces every single week, covering every style niche possible. The price points for on trend items are sometimes unbelievably low, making them all the more appealing. As a fashion blogger, I feel a certain amount of pressure to wear current pieces, because what’s the point in showing you what I’m wearing if it sold out in 2015? Fast fashion is an affordable way to wear current trends, but it’s also an excuse to put less thought into the items I’m buying. Will I wear this item in a year’s time? Will it fit in with the rest of my current wardrobe? The lower the price, the less important these kinds of questions become, and this is definitely no excuse. It seems that creating my own personal style would require a certain amount of budgeting and restraint on my part, so is it worth it?
UNIQUE VS. PERSONAL
I’ve seen a lot of people bemoaning the loss of personal style recently. It’s become practically forbidden to wear Nike or Adidas with anything but active wear, lest you want to be smeared with that awful label, ‘basic bitch’. Even luxury items like the Chanel WOC, the Gucci Dionysus or the Chloe Faye have planted themselves well inside ‘basic bitch’ territory in the minds of many, simply because a lot of fashion bloggers have them. If personal style has to mean outlandish prints layered over PVC flares, accessorised with an oversized puffer jacket and fluffy platform sliders, then I don’t want it! Unique style doesn’t always equal personal style, and even then, is it possible to be unique unless what you’re wearing has been custom designed for you? It seems to me that truly personal style is almost impossible to find in a world where trends change week by week, produced en masse across the world for everyone and their mother to pick up. Even designer pieces have become less exclusive, less likely to set you apart from the masses, so why do we still place so much emphasis on personal style?
FORGET ABOUT IT
In conclusion, I’m not sure that personal style even exists on an individual level. As long as you’re wearing somebody else’s designs or following current trends, there’s nothing truly personal about your style at all, so to answer the title of this post: no, I don’t think personal style is really important at all. That being said, if you’re comfortable with your wardrobe and you feel confident in the clothes you wear, then I suppose that is personal style, even if it’s exactly the same as somebody else’s. I don’t know why we put such emphasis on individualism in fashion, and seeing people criticise fashion bloggers for dressing like carbon copies of one another is really disappointing. Even if it were true, it’s just another way of injecting unnecessary negativity into the world.
LOOKING TOWARDS THE FUTURE
As for me, I don’t feel that I’ve found my own personal style yet. University has been a learning curve in terms of my personal style, and I haven’t always been comfortable with the outfits I wear. As I mentioned, I lean towards neutrals, denim and stripes, and in the name of sustainable fashion and wearability, I think I always will. However, in the future, I’d like to be even more conscious about the clothes I choose to buy. High end retailers generally sell goods which are better quality and ethically made, and I spend hours browsing sites like Olive, Dahlia and Reiss, lusting after their pieces. However, I simply can’t afford to cultivate a wardrobe filled with brands like these at the moment. Even if I could, I wouldn’t want to rule out fast fashion retailers like ASOS, Mango and Zara, simply because I love their stock! Instead, I will try to shop for myself, rather than for what I think will look good on my blog or Instagram. I will also be mindful of trends and the quality of the items I buy. For me, I think that’s the trick to discovering my personal style, if it even exists!
WHAT I’M WEARING
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Do you believe in personal style? What’s yours?