Is Personal Style Dead?

Any article that references Isabella Blow in the first line is an article I can get down with… Normally. She’s an icon of mine, and someone that any dedicated follower of fashion wishes they could’ve known. That’s why the article that came after a quote by our misfit queen Blow had me so shook. Is it just me, or is personal style really dead?

Pandora Sykes, a brilliant writer who this time has it so wrong, spoke about women on and off the catwalk supposedly bringing “personal style” back. From where, who knows, but for an article that purports to be about the beauty of uniqueness, it sure namedrops a hell of a lot of well-established fashion houses.

Additionally, she references a small handful of bloggers, stylists, and general fashion mavens who are flying the flag for individuality. I have two problems with this: One is that these people (such as Leandra Medine and Pernille Teisbæk) are the exception and not the rule; and two is that they’re not even as off-the-wall as she claims.

I think it’s very easy to become cynical about fashion media. There’re only so many ‘absolutely essential’ pieces of clothing I can legitimately feel are truly essential, and hearing about why white is the must-buy colour of the season will mean my eyes roll so far back into my head they see my brain. If I witness another jumper-tucked-into-frayed-jeans-with-loafers combo online I might explode. Yes, there are fashion people on my news feed who make me scream ‘slayyyy’ at my phone while I scroll, but for every one of those there’s fifty more that make me never want to see balayage and J-Crew ever again.

Let’s not kid ourselves that it has nothing to do with who’s behind the Wordpress interface telling us what to wear. Blogging, - and fashion in general – is full of beautiful, thin people with healthy bank balances and a collection of Vogues in their Georgian townhouse. Do they look amazing? Of course. Are they switching shit up? Absolutely not. In all honesty, if I wanted to see straight white blonde girls in overpriced garments I’d go to spin class.

Fashion is still the homogenous rules and trends-led world, and Sykes’ assertion that gingham at Altuzarra is avant-garde is pretty laughable. “Shirting is having a moment,” she cries, blithely glossing over how contradictory that statement is to her claims that people are now veering away from trends. At a party, the woman who I’d be desperate to ask where she got her clothes from would be more likely to be decked out in a leather bodice or green furry socks than a fucking shirt.

Isabella Blow was living proof that it was hard to dress outside the norm. She wore her personality from head to toe, and she had to bankroll a lot of the designers she wore, because initially their work would never have been commercially viable. It seems that the word ‘personal’ has been used a little too loosely here, and I’m taking it personally because I just don’t think it’s fair. The one walking into Selfridge’s and picking something because it’s Margiela does not equate to the one sitting in their room making some fly as hell pom-pom earrings.

If it’s all a big circle-jerk that allows people to feel better about what they put on their backs then so be it. But can we all agree that it’s not innovation, and errs more on the side of imitation?
The age-old proverb ‘you do you, babes’ comes to mind here. It’s simply worth noting that just because someone has 80k Instagram followers and knows how to roll up her sleeves ever-so nonchalantly, they’re not the second coming of fah-shun sweetie darling. They just got a Net-a-Porter voucher for Christmas.

Header image: Veronika Heilbrunner, Leandra Medine and Pernille Teisbæk via Matches Fashion.

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Freelancer covering everything from sequins to the suffragettes. She's a girl of two extremes; usually found in a dressing gown, or full-on leather jumpsuit.
London