Is dressing extravagantly overrated?

Fashion has always fascinated me for the numerous possibilities it offers to create a distinct visual identity – I love the idea of sending a certain message of my character before even saying half a word, offering a glimpse into my world via sartorial shield. In order to do this, I’ve never been inclined to dress extravagantly (probably because I’m myself not that kind of type) but… I’m weirdly comforted by a thought that if I decide to dress riskier than usually, I can always do that – as someone who unashamedly talks about “passion for fashion” and a dream to work in this sphere, I sometimes feel as if the society legitimates all of my experiments more than anybody else’s. This is the part that I find a little bit troubling. I never really thought how someone working in fashion is “supposed” to look like until some months ago – while I was searching for an outfit for a local fashion week, the shop assistant, observing my gravitation towards minimalistic, detail-free white dresses, asked me rhetorically: “But you work in fashion, right? Shall we search for something bolder, more attention-grabbing?” At that moment, I asked myself for the very first time: as for an avid lover of fashion, is it necessary for me to dress “like crazy”?

Alexander Wang
Photo: VidaPress

After years and years of cold, sterile, conceptual minimalism, the runway broke off these aesthetically burdening chains with an unprecedented force and crackling energy, offering us anything from richly detailed dresses, oozing high-octane extravaganza to, let’s say, some strange objects triggering a complex cascade of feelings… I have to admit that I was laughing altogether with everyone else when I saw those memes with Gucci shoes, allegedly inspired by Donald Trump’s hair. I, just like everybody else, didn’t know how to feel when I saw the newest Balenciaga bags from A/W 17 season, looking exactly the same as the ones where I keep all the bedclothes (the internet also had its word on this: “Fashion, what are you doing?”). I found it funny when someone uploaded a picture of a woman in a public transport, who was obviously reading something in her phone, enveloped in that notorious Moschino case imitating cleaning spray– the caption read “When you have nothing to read” while only a few understood it was a phone case and she wasn’t actually reading the contents of a cleaning spray.

Street Style, Spring Summer 2017, London Fashion Week, UK - 17 Sep 2016
Street style caption. Photo: VidaPress

It feels safe to declare that designers have been messing up with our definitions of style and taste for a couple of seasons already, and the weirdest part is that we’ve become some kind of used to it. Firstly, because of the street style – it’s not a secret that anyone aspiring to be noticed during fashion weeks dresses as extravagantly as it is possible, and, no matter how ridiculously it sounds, it often works. In 2014, a VICE journalist claimed to dress “like a total idiot” during a fashion week to see how much attention she would get. The outcome? Not only she was photographed a bunch of times, but there also were people who claimed to have recognized her “Vivienne Westwood vintage” clothes while all of it was a pure falsification. It does not apply only to the style wannabes. Top-notch bloggers, chased by the photographers during the fashion weeks, are very often sporting the craziest looks that can sometimes seem completely impossible to handle for anybody else in real life. What this situation illustrates very well is the level of trust the society gives anyone who claims to be associated with fashion – a phenomenon of the same nature is happening while the analysts and journalists are trying to deliver profound insights and deep analysis on why we’re being offered to carry three little bags instead of one normal size, wear skirts that look like car rugs and wrap ourselves in jackets bigger than our mattresses. The biggest paradox of the latest trends is that they usually don’t have any answers. The biggest trend right now is to look daring and revolt against anything that could seem like “playing it safe”.

Symbols of understated chic: Caroline de Maigret and Jeanne Damas

And yet, am I supposed to dress like this to validate my status as someone working in fashion? Of course, there are many prominent figures that are distinct for their sharp style – take Emmanuelle Alt from French Vogue, who shows that being stylish and creative doesn’t have to equal taking ridiculously audacious risks every time you step into the street. Recently Olivia Palermo echoed the same philosophy by publishing a blog post with a caption that “You don’t have to dress crazy to turn heads”. I know that really well. That’s why I opted for an extremely minimal white dress and Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello “Edie” shoes, which added a dash of audacity to my look. I didn’t look “crazy”, “extremely creative” but I knew I looked arresting. That is what not only people from fashion world but anyone can look like; and this is exactly the message that the fashion industry needs to be sending to all the people right now.

One thought on “Is dressing extravagantly overrated?”

  1. As we all know, fashion trends change from season to season. We don’t have to wear every trend head to toe, we can just pick one point in some detail. Fashion changes, but style endures. So just keep our own style instead of so-called fashion.

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