Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What Happened to Personal Style?

I woke up today earlier than usual since it was the first day of school. Usually, a student from UST's College of Fine Arts and Design would don a white v-neck polo, black slacks, and a snazzy pair of black leather shoes. During the hell weeks, eyebags and paint splattered polos were mandatory. But for the rest of the year, the former description of our uniform works for everyone. Among the masses of students wearing ill-fitting polos and over-sized slacks, there are a certain few who seem to make an effort to look decent enough by wearing good fitting uniforms and nice jacket or bag. And then there are those rare individuals who seem to be hell bent on letting their personal style shine; even with the uniform's communist appeal. Well, I'm one of those people.

I always believed that everyone has an innate sense of style; a personal taste that only applies to them. It doesn't really have to be involved with clothing. The influence of one's personal taste goes beyond clothing; his food, the friends he make, his choice of interior design style and so many more. As I said, it's on a personal level. But of course, there will always be external factors that will influence the choices we make. The standards and norms of society will always play a huge part in the way we choose things. Moreover, media also plays a huge role in the process of choosing. People nowadays seem to pick what media sensationalizes and veer away from the things that are deemed taboo, unconventional, and, for lack of better word, weird. But is weird really bad? 

I've met amazing people over the past few years that I can honestly say has their own personal sense of style. These are people who, whatever they wear, seem to convey a single style executed in hundreds of different outfits but retains the essence of the wearer. Sometimes they wear trends but it still translates to a look that is definitely theirs. They own the trend and not the other way around. Risk takers, they often are. Experimental, yes. But not too drastically. These are people that I look up to. Only a few gifted individuals seem to pull of a style and call it as their own. Then when their style becomes popular thanks to social networking and street style blogs, style clones begin popping up in huge numbers. Suddenly everyone's a dandy, a prep, a hipster or whatever else style identities.

It's when people lose themselves in the pursuit of looking so different and standing out that they seem to look just like everyone else. When I started doing a style blog back in 2009, the people I encounter seem to really own their style. Brands did not dictate how one should look. Their clothes came from all sorts of places and prolific brands were a few of them. Vintage, thrifted,  borrowed, DIY, all these things are a testament that personal style is achieved and not bought. Personal style was indeed personal style; it wasn't copied from a clothing brand's catalog. Looks came out of the mind and not out of the computer. Unfortunately, the world is now occupied by style clones and outfit looks alikes; wearing the same stuff from the same store. The brand is now the influencer. What happened to the creative process of choosing your clothes and coordinating them? Looks are readily available to copy online now. It's what I would call a sort of "artificial imagination"; someone else providing you with a look. All you have to do is copy it.

Furthermore, with the street style trend booming, brands have taken advantage of this opportunity to advertise their products. I'm not saying it's a bad thing though. But when brands give you clothes you didn't pick and wear it with something you have, is it safe to say that half of your outfit is not by your personal style? And when you buy an item from a brand, you'll definitely have something that thousands of others have too. So what will set you apart? It's not bad that brands give you clothes, definitely. But when you wear everything from a particular brand, isn't that sort of exchanging your personal style with the brand's own style? A bit like selling your soul to the devil; in a fashion-related of course.

The emergence of street style blogs have given fame to many people. And in a society like ours where attention is given only to the best of the best, many crave for the perks it gives and the popularity it generates. Street style blogs capture personal style at its rawest; spontaneously on the street with no idea you'll be photographed. However, it's this culture of being photographed and being seen that seem to fuel a person's sense of fashion. Some people dress to be photographed and compromise their personal style in the process. During the fashion week, it seemed that the audience has become the show itself; donning outrageous outfits, not necessarily stylish and in good taste, in the hopes of being photographed. But when someone dresses up for the camera and not for himself, could it be considered personal style?   The idea of street style blogging is that the outfits captured are in its truest form; not Photoshopped, spontaneous, unready. If the people being photographed are prepped up and camera ready, isn't it defeating the purpose?

My friend and I were discussing this awhile ago. If people dress up in a brand for a brand, for the sake of being photographed, or for the sake of showing off and publicity, would it be considered personal style? It seems that people with personal style nowadays are rare and/or unheard of.  The question remains: what happened to personal style?

P.S. This is just an opinion; a realization of things that bother me at the moment. We are all entitled to our own opinions but if you would like to give yours, please do so in a civilized and in an educated manner. I don't judge the type of people I mentioned in this entry. I simply observed and gave my two cents.


  1. I agree with this post a lot. I've been seeing what you mean...people dressing up for the camera in the hopes of getting attention. Blogging has also lost it's community... reader-author communication, aside from the usual "Love this".

    1. Exactly my point. Very attention fueled ang pag dress up. Dress to be seen, not to express. Oh well.

  2. You know what, I am thankful that I follow you on twitter and accidentally landed to this article. Thank god that someone like you in this blogosphere thinks that way. Yeah, the question is, "What happened to personal style?"

    Maybe, some people are too scared to be criticized by the way they dress that's why they end up on the "safe side" of dressing. Or perhaps, that's why fashion magazines are invented, because some people are too busy to actually discover their own personal style so they end up buying magazines for inspirations. Hmmm. What else? Kaya siguro may mga stylists na pwede i-hire ngayon kasi alam nila kung ano ang bagay sa isang tao. Pero minsan din, nakakalimutan ng stylist na i-ayon ang mga pinapasuot nila sa personalidad ng taong binibihisan nila. Meron din na napipilitan maging "in" kasi naprepressure sila sa environment na ginagalawan nila. Siguro at hopefully, one day, they will realize and discover their own personal style. Well at least they take time to look good&pleasant unlike those people who just wear the usual t-shirt-shorts-slippers pambahay outfit, di ba? :)

    Pero for me, iba rin ang may confidence ka sa sariling mong style at hindi ka natatakot sa mga sasabihin ng iba. I hope I made my opinion in an educated-slash-civilized manner.

    Hope you still remember me....
    The pageant girl from Educ.

    1. GELA! Of course I remember you. You were one of those girls who really knew how to pose. :))

      I think personal style can be influenced by outside factors. But it should remain as an influence; an inspiration and not an imitation. But then again, that's not how the way it works for some people.

      Oh well, nice to hear from you agaain! :D