Does style express our true personality?

Many people in the fashion environment – may they be bloggers, critics, fashion journalists or stylists – have said in interviews that style is a way to express our true personality. By saying that, they meant that wearing a certain type of clothes shows who we really are, because each of us is aware that the first impression we give to a stranger is conveyed visually, through our face and body, the way we make up and the way we dress. And we have to admit that it is always better if the first impression is true to ourself.

Over the last five decades, the modern society has not only been allowing diversity in terms of self development but has also shown a better acceptation of mixed cultures and ethnics, and both those post-war phenomenons have been the source of a more extravagant and open-minded fashion. Women could at last chose to wear pants, men could decide to stop cutting their hair, and young adults had the right to dress the way their music icons dressed (even though their parents were not absolutely happy with that, it seems).

The thought of a transparent style showing our personality might be appealing, I must admit that I do not agree about the fact that style is the expression of our true personality.

My theory is that we dress up the way we want people to look at us – the way we want people to think we are. We do not necessarily chose to wear what we really like, but more often do we dress in the way that we think the people around us will like, even though it is not what we prefer. For most of us, style is the key to being accepted in a certain group of people : if you are interested in economy and business, you will dress classy because most of the people in these domains dress up when they go out. It might be a generality, i admit. But am I totally wrong ?

I have, myself, been studying literature and philosophy and I confess that most of the students studying arts and humanities with me are pretty much hipsters. When I arrived there, I knew I did not fit. Whether it was voluntary or not – it might have come with the time or it might have been the influence of my new group of friends– I became more like them.

I know what you must think now : «  Oh, but she does not have a strong personality if she gets influenced that easily », or « She could totally have stayed the way she was before – the inside counts more than the outside ».

Do you really think it is possible to not get influenced – even a tiny bit – by the people that you go around with? The influence of the ones you love should be accepted by each of us, because it exists more than we wish to admit. Our personality might be strong, there will always be someone that we admire and whose advice counts.

Fashion is a society phenomenon that helps us identify with a group of people following a certain kind of values and interests.

You might tell me that the inside counts more than the outside, and you would be absolutely right. But while our personality will create a long-lasting relationship if it corresponds to the person we have in front of us, fashion is only a way to fasten the bonds we want to create. It might take a lot more time and effort to befriend a group of very classy people – think Jackie Kennedy in the Hamptons circa 1940 – if we dress like Britney in her first MTV videos– scrunchie and denim skirt included.

Moreover, if fashion was an expression of our deep self, we would not accept its perpetual evolution each season. Our centers of interests might be variable, it takes more than a season to change our entire personality. Some people, of course, stay true to their style for a lifetime. But how rare is that ? Think of those who adapt to each new trend, and who need to change their closet every six months to stay « in ». Do they express their true self by wearing what they see on the runways ? Are they being truthful to their culture and interests, or even to their favourite colour or shape ? Do they wear what fits them, or what they have to wear to be accepted where they want to be ? To have the job they want to have ? It is a thought worth considering.

The Dilettante

Yves Saint-Laurent’s designs based on men’s garments revolutionised women’s fashion