Money doesn’t buy style, but a glance at Pinterest and fashion blogs might convince you otherwise. If you feel a pang of envy when you see someone else’s extravagant shoe collection, you’re not alone. I feel that way sometimes, too. But having a lot of cash to spend on frivolous stuff doesn’t make your life any better, even though it might look glamorous on Instagram.
Two of my favourite quotes from Fight Club are “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need” and “The things you own end up owning you.”
Now, don’t get it twisted: I am very familiar with the high of a new purchase, the thrill of finding the perfect dress, and the confidence that comes from putting together a killer outfit. I’m not disparaging any of that. What I’m hoping to do is talk you out of the mindset that insists that new and expensive = better, or that having a closet full of stuff makes you superior.
You don’t need to have a black card to have great style. Style is personal, woven into the fabric of your soul, and it cannot be purchased.
Style isn’t just what you wear when you get all dolled up. Style is the way you wear your clothes: the rolling of a cuff, the addition of an unexpected hat, the play of proportion. It’s what you wear in your downtime: the lo-fi ensembles you wear in your own home, and what you throw on to walk the dog. Style isn’t just clothing: it’s your smile, the way you walk or hold a cup of coffee. Style is the way you treat other people. Style is the way you live your life.
I believe real style isn’t bought in a department store, but is cobbled together over time: scarves from thrift shops, your favourite pair of boots and a treasured old coat, paired with a bright bold lip.
Style is about making the effort. You never know who you’ll meet around the corner! Sure, some people will hate on the fact that you apply a meticulous swoop of black eyeliner before you go to the supermarket. That’s okay. Let them walk around bleary-eyed: you’ll be busy being fabulous amongst the fresh produce!
“Style is the answer to everything… Style is the difference, a way of doing, a way of being done.” (Charles Bukowski)
Style isn’t about doing what you’re told, donning a shapeless sack dress, and swallowing a prescription from Pantone about the so-called colour of the year. Fuck trends! Style is about doing and wearing what makes you feel fantastic.
Show me someone who leaps mindlessly from trend to trend and I’ll show you someone with no inner world. Above all, style is about knowing yourself.
“Never use the word ‘cheap’. Today everybody can look chic in inexpensive clothes (the rich buy them too). There is good clothing design on every level today. You can be the chicest thing in the world in a T-shirt and jeans — it’s up to you.” (Karl Lagerfeld)
One of the perks of my job is that I’m sometimes given extravagant clothes. I love them and of course, I enjoy wearing them, but they don’t define me. In my day-to-day life, I wear pretty simple, comfortable clothes, and a pair of motorcycle boots I’ve owned since 2008!
I think the people with the best style are the ones who pair unexpected pieces. They surprise and delight you, it’s not about wearing a look straight off a mannequin.
Living within your means is the definition of style. You can be immensely stylish with $50 in your bank account: don’t ever forget that.
You should never go into debt for fashion. There is nothing less stylish than worrying about paying your credit card bill. A lot of that so-called “need” for certain expensive items is really about social proof, and trying to demonstrate something to other people (who, quite frankly, don’t really care). Put down your Amex, and instead, examine your desires and where they come from.
The items that have brought me the most pleasure have been the inexpensive ones. I have a fancy designer bag sitting in my closet that I have never used because it feels so conspicuous. To contrast, my vintage leopard-print faux fur coat cost me $60 in Salt Lake City, and I’ve worn it so much the last two years that the lining is in tatters.
Trust me when I say you can live without that handbag, those shoes, that lipstick. Life will go on! True style is making the most of what you’ve got.
You might treat yourself to lavish things from time to time — that’s your right! It’s your money and you can do with it as you please. But don’t make the mistake of thinking a bulging closet will change your life or turn you into someone else. It won’t. You change your life by transforming your inner self, not by putting on a new coat.