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The difference between style and fashion (hint, it has to do with cake)

Fashion, Style

One of the never-resolved questions 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 difference between fashion and style; you know they are not quite the same thing. But articulating that difference is difficult.

Yves Saint Laurent was known to say, “fashions fade, but style is eternal” (or “fashion fades, but style is eternal”), suggesting that style is an indelible quality, separate from the trends and whims of particular seasons or pieces of apparel. Style is something a person has. Style is not something a person wears.

Fashion, on the other hand, is the stuff a person decorates herself with, in order to express her style. Fashion is what’s hot this summer, what designers are selling, what models are wearing. Fashion is your shoes, your belt, your handbag. Fashion is the frosting.

But style is the cake underneath. It’s you, who you are as a person, how you want to express yourself to others. I think everyone has a style. That doesn’t mean that everyone has a style you’d see in a magazine or on a catwalk, but everyone has a way of letting the world know who they are. That’s style.  I don’t like to think of it as good style and bad style, as much as I prefer to think of it as my style and your style.

So that’s what I think the difference between fashion and style is. But maybe my cake metaphor is off.  How do you conceptualize the difference between style and fashion?

Jenn @ July 23, 2008

1 Comment

  1. Christine July 24, 2008 @ 7:15 pm

    I like the cake metaphor. I was thinking of it more of fashion is runway and style is what normal people wear, but that’s not really true. If I wear a classic pinstripe skirt with a simple white blouse to work, but pair it with bright colored heels or jewelry, my style is classic but I’m conforming to a current fashion trend. I like the idea that your style can be adorned with small current fashion trends to keep it updated, but it can be unchanging.

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