Is Fashion Shallow?

Posted by Casey Shteamer | December 30, 2014 6

Today I’ve been reflecting on the idea of fashion and it’s relation to our personal experience.  I am also currently fascinated by the idea that fashion itself is shallow.

Personal style does cause judgements to be made.  It informs the way others perceive us, and therefore, it effects our personal experience of the world.  This is true.  But is this bad and does it make fashion a shallow endeavor? I’m not so sure.   Unlike our features and stature, we have complete control over how we choose to dress.  It is voluntary.  Like the words we chose to speak, the specific clothes we choose to adorn ourselves in is volitional.  Is it wrong to form an opinion based on the observance of these things? And does that make a pursuit into the world of fashion shallow?  I would love to hear thoughts.

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6 Responses

  • katie g

    I come down pretty firmly on the “Yes, fashion is completely shallow” side of this, but I remain interested in and open to the conversation, and its other arguments. I just don’t see how we can get around a few key points though: Personal style isn’t completely volitional. Unlike the words we speak, the clothes we wear cost money. For those who find ways around the financial demands of fashion, cultivating real personal style costs time. If everyone in my world had time and money in equal shares, I’d be more interested in our respective personal styles. But of course that’s not the case, and I can’t help but think that an uncritical veneration of fashion and personal style excuses yet another way in which we separate ourselves according to our strengths as consumers. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get away from that? Fashion isn’t going to help us get there.

  • Hi Kate, I think the cost is an interesting point. But I also dont think cost and style go hand in hand. An ensemble that costs a lot of money doesn’t make it better or worse. I just seems to me that if we respect painting and the like and an art form, the style seems to be along those same lines. I do think it at times can be easier to look well put together if you have money, but if we are talking about real personal style, I think cost has little to do with it. It does still cost money of course, but so do paintbrushes and a canvas, and we never factor that into the equation for a painter to discredit them. I don’t mean to dismiss your point because I think it is a good one, and I think we can all recall a time we have said “Man, if I had all the money in the world, I would look so good” but sometimes also the challenge of not having everything at your disposal makes it even more fun. Vintage, Goodwill, all these places have unlimited potential if you can imagine it. It takes time, for sure, the the potential is still there.

    • I have thought about it again. And I think depending on the person or the style the would like to express, cost can be truly prohibiting. Structure can be very hard to get at a bargain price. Certain non vintage, refined looks can as well. So I do see where you are coming from. I think it is a good point. I think at most levels though, it can be a good indicator of a snapshot of who a person is. It doesn’t reveal everything, but even on my off days, when I am running around in sweats, by sweats and the way I wear them are different from someone else’s. If we take the time to brush our hair, if we have a button down or low cut shirt, if it is black or rainbow, if we match or are mismatched, conservative or daring, all these things come back to our choices and have a least a little bit of a tell on who we are as a person.

      • katie g

        Yeah, I really don’t know. I think about this a lot too, and in the end always realize that I have an instinctive block against admiring fashion. I think you’re right that the pure money factor can be worked around, but I think about “cost” more broadly–if you don’t have a lot of money to devote to the pursuit of killer style, it’s going to take a lot of time to cultivate. (Even more than if you *did* have money, because, as we all know, successful Goodwill trips are rarely in-and-out endeavors.) So, choose your resource: Do you want to spend time and energy, or money? Again, not everyone is willing or able to offer any of these. I suppose that doesn’t have to stop us from feasting our eyes on the people who do fashionably leverage their resources–I just think it’s important we acknowledge that, yeah, it’s a comparatively shallow pleasure, and that a person’s clothes and accessories don’t actually reveal much of what’s worth knowing about her.

  • I think you bring up an interesting point. Fashion can be shallow if one gets caught up in the labels. However style is the way to express who you are.

    – Liz
    Vogued Out

  • Tina

    It’s an interesting question and one that I give some thought. I LOVE clothes and putting outfits together. When I make a plan — for an evening out or a trip — I immediately start thinking about what I’ll wear. But I also feel it can be very self-indulgent. Some blogs are ridiculous with the level of navel gazing. One of my daily mantras is to try to create more than I consume. So in my mind, there is a difference between fashion and style. The fashion part is the consumption, e.g. mindlessly following trends or shopping. The style part can be more about creating — expressing yourself, what makes you feel good and creatively combing elements. Then sometimes I just laugh at myself and think of the Andy Warhol quote, “I am a deeply superficial person.”

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