I never really understood why the scavengers came out to prey over the weekend until I realised when there is no school, no work, and that I was one of them; how fashion is an overbearing addiction that feeds off the vulnerable! Or the fact that it is so intriguing it would fascinate even the imagination of any non-conformist? So, I ask myself the question what is it about fashion that captures so much of our time?
For Fashionista’s, including myself, the sheer imagination and creativity of it all captures me. It’s a bit like being in a labyrinth and not knowing which way to turn or where to look because there is so much of everything to do. raising another question, “Why I love fashion so much?” To which I never really get an answer, but for a bemused look and heavy sigh at the frustration of never ever coming up with any valid reason other than “versatility and the fact that fashion is lots of fun.” But there must be more reasons than that!
From century to century and generation to generation, and nowadays, season to season, our style of dress is like a revolving door; it is bound to come back around again, but with a difference. Even those who love a particular era will always add a twist to their style because they can. It is fair to say that in recent years, I have become more and more fashion conscious than ever before. Why?
For so many women, as they get older their bodies start to change in size and shape (yes, there is a difference between size and shape!) And like so many women, I found myself in those brackets. People would say, “but your only in your twenties!” despite the fact that I was fast approaching my thirties, and my body was changing whether I liked it or not. Clearly I had a problem and plastic surgery was not an option, or should I say I couldn’t afford it, however fashion was, and is, the solution. Taking an in-depth look into what fashion is about has consumed me and left me restless and anxious, constantly questioning the reasons why I shop.
I have always loved fashion, nevertheless I did not realise that fashion could be used as a tool to set you apart from the rest; to show character, personality, to express your opinion. Like many of us, I have always been aware of the impact fashion can have on others but not aware of the true impact fashion had on me, and the strong influence, I apparently had on others. Confusing I know, but it is true. Now, not to blow my own trumpet and I am not saying that I am the “Rihanna” of today, but with hindsight (something we would pay a million dollars) the reaction of others should have been enough confirmation of my own sense of style and playful manner with clothes, irrespective of my personal hang ups and even then they are nothing to be compared with that of others who take it to another level - one of many comments, “Tasha, red tights, grey pinafore dress, white shirt and leopard print scarf for a tie?!” I was clearly making my own mark on the diverse and extravagance of fashion.
Nonetheless, the older I got, the more conscious I became of my body shape and that has made a huge difference to how I saw fashion on me and others. Naturally, I began to study everyone else’s fashion and body shape with a fine red pen, and slowly but surely, the pieces of the jigsaw slipped into place. Now, 30, and a fully-fledged woman, I am more conscientious than ever.
Of course anyone who does not fit into society’s perception of what is the norm (whatever that is) is bound to draw attention to themselves, especially if you live in the demographics of Birmingham, “big city, small town,” and that is not to say that I am as outrageous with my style of dress like some people, but it is worth pointing out that fashion breeds confidence and confidence is what makes fashion. Having the confidence to not do what is branded as the norm is one of our many weaknesses. Too afraid to set ourselves apart from the rest!
Once upon a time, living in Birmingham used to be a struggle for inspiration because everyone tried so hard to be like each other. Now, we have come full circle, yet there is still the odd raised eyebrow to the person wearing socks with shoes, but the arrival of the Bull Ring and The Mail Box, and the high streets jam-packed with the latest trends straight off the catwalk, in a store near you, has made all the difference in the world. Not to mention the most recent event from London, which has made its way to “Brum” town, “The Style in the City” where known celebrities do the mileage to be apart of also contributes to the new found fame of style here. Such places and events have attracted visitors from all over the country contributing to the thriving city with more than just fashion to offer.
One afternoon, with great excitement and enthusiasm, I decided to scour the city centre and ask people their thoughts on fashion, and why we love fashion so much? One passer by simply replied, “Mmm…its fun!” I even managed to bump into someone who worked in PR, who coincidentally, was busy promoting one of their brands, “Fashion has an impact on our very existence, whether you are conscious of it or not. When we look good, we feel good – it is as simple as that. Let’s not forget that it is fun too!” Many answers uncovered were reminiscent of my view of an ageing body conscious individual.
It is common knowledge fashion is more associated with women more than men, although things are rapidly changing, there are quite a few fashion conscious men who like to look good just as much as women, but since I have started with the idea, I am going to continue; women shop more and that is a fact. Obviously the demographics of women are slightly more in our favour, in the fact that our clothes are cheaper. The most pleasurable activity you can find which may break the bank, allows you to get excited and even work up a sweat, without you taking your clothes off, is the icing on the cake; the ultimate high! Or does it open the floodgates for us to transform into blood sucking creatures succumb to the watchful eye of the fast rotation of the industry and the media? At times it is nothing more than an outlet for so many of us; a chance to unwind and remove ourselves from the realities of the world. A dear friend of mine was very open with her thoughtd when I told her I was writing this article, a little too open, but that is why we are friends, nevertheless, she hit the nail on the head and summarised it beautifully.
“It gives us the opportunity to express our personality. There are no boundaries in fashion – no class or status issues. Regardless of whether you shop at Primark or not, it is about self personification. It epitomises your own sense of style and reinforces the fact that you do not need money to be fashionable nowadays nor do you need to be in fashion to be fashionable. Just be creative! More importantly, just be you! It’s a way of becoming someone else without limitations. It’s like a voice that speaks to you.”
Obviously I was pleasantly surprised by her heart warming response and at one point felt she should be writing this article instead of me, but she was right!
However, if you want a completely different stance on things then who better to ask than the opposite sex, yes you guessed it; a man. It only seemed right and fair to get the opinion of a straight talking alpha male (if there is one.) Generally speaking, I know that one man does not speak for all, but they are usually on the same page. “It’s a way of expressing personality. In some cases, expressing who they want to be in fashion; gives a sense of importance. It helps enforce values of self worth.”
Many nights I lay thinking about my appearance and wonder how fashion can help me overcome my hurdles.
One thing I have learnt is that fashion has nothing to do with age, age maybe a contributing factor to the changes we make because of how our bodies react to those changes. What we choose to wear in our twenties, for some of us, is naturally, not what we would wear ten or twenty years from now, and this is how and why we are slaves to it.
Fashion is what we make it regardless of budget. The sudden craze of “vintage” or what has been in your mum’s closet since the turn of the century, suddenly has credibility because it is from another decade or era, reaffirms fashion is versatile like a revolving door; what goes around only comes back again to be the next big thing and the next big thing will always encapsulate our mind, body and soul and let’s not forget our eyes.