If you went to a school that made you wear a uniform, non-uniform days were either the bane or highlight of your adolescent life. For me it was the former; ridiculed first for my pre-teen love of studded belts and fingerless gloves, then for my Doc Martens (“Aren’t they too heavy to walk in?”) and later still for the fact that probably 80% of my wardrobe comprises of second hand treasures.
The pursuit of individuality can seem a long road when we’re still coming to terms with the fact that we’re nearly adults, even while we still desperately cling to our childhood. Finding good middle ground can be tough.
Although individuality is a highly coveted quality that most aspire to, I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s cast a suspicious eye at a pair of bright red thigh highs spotted during the middle of the day. Upon deeper reflection I realise that sort of judgement is often rooted in something more superficial than one person’s eccentric hosiery choice. It takes guts to pull off something that many would normally consider fancy dress, or perhaps the privacy of a romantic tryst.
Leandre Medine’s ‘Man Repeller’ fashion blog generated a whole new interest in ‘unsexy’ fashion.
Kate’s Hunters at Glastonbury spawned a uniform festival goers remain strictly loyal to and the Olsen twins’ boho-chic, whilst blasted by the tabloids, inspired a generation that embraced a new aesthetic and allowed for a pleasant depart from that awkward phase post 90s. Individuality in fashion is a trend that goes beyond trying vintage and mixing labels; it leans towards throwing the rulebook out of the window until you’re fully satisfied with what you’re seeing in the mirror.
It’s pretty easy to take these phenomena for granted on the basis of their respective claims to fame but this type of almost-entirely-by-accident yet authoritative affirmation of new style rules is no longer exclusive to celebrities. Tavi Gevinson of TheStyleRookie.com for example, whose bizarrely unique style quickly garnered attention from the fashion industry, lead to her becoming a regular front row fixture. Similarly, Leandre Medine, whose infamous ‘Man Repeller’ fashion blog generated a whole new interest in ‘unsexy’ fashion, focusing on personal style to amuse rather than impress. What people seem to appreciate about individuality in fashion is the consequent potential as a source of inspiration. What these girls prove is that anyone can put their own stamp on their own individual style and make it appealing to be different.
An important point to celebrate is the industry’s growing openness towards representing a variety of body shapes.
Another important point to celebrate is the industry’s growing openness towards representing a variety of body shapes. There is no denying that campaigns are still dominated by size 4 Amazons but there’s ever-growing hope on the horizon. Mark Fast’s use of size 14 models at London Fashion week Spring/Summer 2010 was refreshing (not to mention they made so much more sense in body-con), and who could forget Beth Ditto strutting Gaultier a year later? The poster girl for body confidence and unique style, she gets extra Brownie points for scoring a double whammy and looking fabulous doing it.
Individuality in fashion involves bold moves, tough calls and perhaps most difficult of all: accepting what you’ve got to work with.
Image by Coggles