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Photograph of Carine Roitfeld by The Sartorialist
It's an age-old topic: What is fashionable? What is the difference between fashion and style? Is there one? To Yves Saint Laurent, the response was "Fashion fades, style is eternal," and to quote Diana Vreeland, one of fashion's most formidable icons, "The only real elegance is in the mind; If you've got that, the rest really comes from it." So why do so many women think great style is about excessive shopping and a careless adoption of trends that is contrary to the attitude of so many influential fashion folk?
Fashion is not style. Style is Anna Piaggi. Style is Carine Roitfeld. Fashion is Madonna, it changes all the time. Whether you approve of Anna Piaggi's style is beside the point, Piaggi has style. I hear women complain that runway fashion is unwearable and that's what fashion is all about. Fashion, that nebulous form of personal theatre, puts on a great show. A show that you can't comfortably recreate in your normal life, unless you are Anna Piaggi. Fashion is a chance to flex your creative muscles or advertise someone else's.
So what is style? Style is the connection you make between yourself and a piece of clothing. When you pick up something and say, "This is so me"—a familiarity with an inanimate object that is solid and unwavering. Style is a form of loyalty. Fashion is not. Style doesn't compel you to wear all the latest trends. Insecurity does that because you are afraid of what people think of you. Style doesn't wonder how she will be measured up in the competition amongst women. Style accepts other women. Fashion hates her own gender while acting like she loves it. She's the cattiest bitch on the block.
"The difference between style and fashion is quality," said Giorgio Armani. Quality of character perhaps. The putting aside best and worst dressed lists that make us hate other women and want to cut them down because of the way they look. The dismantling of an ugly system that keeps us insecure over whether we're good-looking, great-smelling, or well-dressed enough. Style is the woman I want to be friends with—I'll have a drink with fashion but I won't be sharing my most intimate secrets with her. She's not trustworthy and she will invariably make me look like an idiot. You've never heard the term "style victim," have you? One can only be a victim of fashion.
If runway fashion is not wearable, it is not fashion that you want. You want a style. And the final question has got to be, how do you get style? You already have it, you need to get in touch with it. Stop reading fashion magazines for one year. Don't watch makeover shows and stay out of local stores for six months. Get to know yourself without any of those external influences. Wear things you feel like you in. I stopped letting my mother dress me when I was 7, why would I let a stylist, personal shopper, or magazine tell me how to do it now? I'm all for a widespread jailbreak. Wanna come with me?
Madeline Meyerowitz is the owner of enokiworld.com, a website specializing in vintage designer clothing.