Style is a funny thing, we all have style each and every one of us, in its most basic form style is simply an individuals way of doing something and in this case we think of style as the way in which a person presents themselves through their clothing choices. Consciously or sub-consciously we all have a self image or a way in which we perceive we are viewed by others and weirdly the truth is rarely anywhere near our expectation, so why is this? How does our own deliberate “style” become so convoluted in the eyes of others? Do we all just aim wide of the mark or are we all deluded to some extent? Maybe so.
Whether we admit it or not we all make very clear decisions about what we like to wear, there are certain items and brands whom we will be drawn to because of the conditioning we receive from outside influences and the aspirations we have for our own self image. The influences most common in effecting our sense of style range from our social groups, our musical taste and certainly the more modern phenomenon of the internet, where we can feel at the same time validated and shamed by the style choices we make. Whether or not this latter influence is a good thing by the opening of honest discourse from like minded and dressed people, or simply a powerful peer driven marketing force is up for debate, and the truth probably lies with one foot in each camp depending on your own slant on such things and how seriously you take yourself. The one certainty is that people do have an inherent desire to belong to something, to identify with a group and through this to validate their own choices, and nowhere is this more visual than the way a person presents through their clothing.
A secondary yet just as clear signal that your clothes say about you is not just what you wear, but how you wear it, take two people and dress them in identical jeans, shirt and boots and you will get two entirely different looks. Some people wear their clothes with an easy laid back style, the appearance of just having thrown them on without much consideration, whilst others carefully place each fold, crease and tuck to show the pride they have taken in their presentation. More than this it is not just how you wear, but how long you wear it for. Do you have two or three pairs of jeans that you wear in constant rotation for year after year, or can you not resist buying just one more pair when something new catches your eye? Do you like your jackets to mould to you and change with the wear you put on them like a leather, waxed or denim jacket, or do you prefer to pick something new up for each new season to constantly refresh your “look”?
Speaking personally I like to dress for comfort, always have. It also helps that I am under no illusions about having a Brad Pitt-esque aesthetic so my self image is not something I feel the need to delicately coiffure to gain kudos. My interest in clothing is two fold, I appreciate high quality wares and the effort that goes into their design and production and I love to see materials evolve with wear and age. My fascination is more born out of utilitarian appreciation than a need for aesthetic validation (not that there is anything wrong with that), simply put I am more engineer than artist.
I believe that denim, Americana and work wear is altogether utilitarian at it’s heart and conception, the artistry is in the detailing of the stitch, the fastening and the weave but the garment itself is practical rather than couture fashion, there are of course exceptions but these are exactly that, exceptions. The danger, as I see it, in choosing to collect rather than wear this type of clothing is that you can turn it into dress up or cosplay as it is commonly referred to in Japan. This is not to decry peoples choices in what they buy or how they wear it, new clothes look great and if you can afford it then there is no doubt that new purchases are fun, I simply think that there needs to be a respect and appreciation for the purpose which the garment was created.