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What’s the difference between style, fashion and popularity?

Fashion, Style

Two summers ago, I took a graduate communication course at UT Austin called “Rhetoric and Popular Culture.” The professor was the brilliant and hilarious Barry Brummett, who is an expert in this area and has published a number of books about pop culture and style. We read and talked about music and movies and fashion; we explored the ways our lives are shaped by – as well as the ways we shape – pop culture. It was a great class. One of the topics that came up over and over again in that course was style – who has style, where it comes from, and how you get it. Those discussions have stayed with me ever since.

Today I came across an interesting conversation about the psychology of style. This conversation, sparked by an article in Psychology Today, revolved around issues of style and how style is different from fashion. The PT article that started that conversation is brief and quite interesting, but here’s a quote.

Style is one part self-knowledge and one part self-confidence. In other words, it’s an attitude.

Essentially, style comes down to selectivity. It’s sampling what’s out there, figuring out what works for you, and then making that a part of you. Style is about being aware of who you are, and then sharing that with the world. It’s more than what you wear; it’s also how you wear it.

I think there’s something interesting about the way we use words like popular, style, taste, and fashion. Style and taste are things to be desired; they embody quality and selectivity. By definition, not everyone has style and taste. Popularity, on the other hand, is cool in high school but after that, when something becomes popular, the truly stylish have already moved on to something else. Those with style take risks with fashion; they’re aren’t afraid to step away from what’s popular to try something different.

What do you think? What is the difference between style and fashion? What role does popularity play in fashion and style?

Jenn @ June 13, 2008


  1. The difference between style and fashion (hint, it has to do with cake) | Appozitegeist July 23, 2008 @ 3:15 pm

    […] in the style world is the difference between style and fashion.  I’ve written about this once before, but didn’t even come close to figuring it out. Sure, if you think about it, you can sense a […]

  2. Kathy July 23, 2009 @ 5:42 pm

    Thanks. It was helpful

  3. zeeshan February 16, 2010 @ 2:50 am

    dont know

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