Working in the fashion industry, I come across people who have developed a rather extreme personal style. Often, these clothing-obsessives switch from one extreme to another, so for example they will wear nothing but 1960s “Mod” looks for 2 years, and then only 1950s pin-up-style outfits for the next 18 months. I cannot help but admire the slavish way they adhere to their selected style and its restrictions, but my question is: don’t they have days when they just want to blend in or be comfortable?
I was recently on holiday in North Africa, and became very aware of the way myself, and other tourists were dressed. I had read in my guidebook how revealing large amounts of flesh would attract long stares from local men, as they are used to women covering their bodies. I dressed accordingly, in linen trousers and thin cotton shirts with T-shirts underneath, and felt cool and comfortable. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I actually found myself staring at foreigners with cleavage or too much leg showing, as they really did stand out amongst the modestly-dressed majority. It was important to me in that situation not to offend anyone’s religious beliefs, or make myself look immodest. Luckily pretty sandals are the norm, so I didn’t have to compromise on my footwear selection.
Tattoos are having a fashion moment, with some London creatives now becoming serial tattooees, but will their tattoos complement the years of style choices they have ahead of them in life? “Psychobilly”-styled brides are becoming more commonplace, but would you let tattoos on your arms, back or chest dictate the style and cut of your ultimate dress? As a lover of shoes, and someone who delights in trying new styles of footwear, I would be cautious of having a tattoo on my foot or ankle, in case it did not complement a sandal I badly wanted to wear at some point in the future.
Having spent the early part of this year landscaping my garden, I appreciate the need for having a set of old clothes you really don’t care about. We should not feel pressurised to always be style-queens. It’s acceptable to let your standards slip when you pop out for a pint of milk, or are on your way somewhere, where you know you’re going to get really dirty!
I was thinking that sometimes I don’t make enough of an effort with my style. My workplace dress-code is casual, and although I dress up anyway, there is no pressure to do so. I was reassured that my style does make an impact, by a friend of mine who commented on my chosen outfit for attending greyhound racing. She was surprised to see me wearing jeans. I realised that evening that I would have been over-dressed in anything else: I had made the right decision as a style chameleon.
Dressing appropriately will help you to feel comfortable in any situation. I am not saying that I never want to stand out, but why be the most unusually-dressed person in the room, when you could dress like your elegant/fashionable/sophisticated/comfortable/beautiful self?
Are you a style chameleon? Let me know what you think by commenting here, or tweeting me @ShoeConsultant