Finding Yourself: Fashion and The Identity Crisis

Posted on June 02, 2015, 6:29 pm
8 mins

In the world of fashion, there is a constant change of patterns, styles, designs and perspective—even in how the industry itself works. A few years ago, we could not have imagined the impact that designers, collaborations, bloggers, street-style stars, photographers and social media would have on fashion and design. These factors constantly redefine the way that we perceive and interpret fashion into our own lives.

Perhaps with so much to choose from and identify with, one’s own personal style is actually easier to nail down, and great looks are easier and more affordable to achieve. But is that really the case for everyone? Is it possible that there is so much going on—so much fast fashion and recycled fashion—that we’re becoming conditioned toward fashion gluttony, allowing us to be indiscriminate in our tastes and purchasing? Can the fast pace make it difficult to get one’s bearings? What challenges does this bring and what does it say about our overall sense of personal identity—the identity that we fine-tune and discover through our development of style?

The culture of fashion is affected by trends just as much as it is the actual nuts and bolts of the business. We all know that brand development is how companies reach people, and it is the biggest factor in shaping identity for designers and consumers. I tend to love the freethinkers the most, the people who don’t care that “It’s always been done this way.” The rule breakers—those are the brands that speak to me.

Not too long ago, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about designer Rebecca Taylor and her decision to scrap her expensive runway shows in favor of a more modern approach to reach her customers. She used her $500,000 annual show budget to start a marketing strategy using attention-getting film and photography that would directly relate to her customers. Another pioneer in establishing brand and identity is designer Rebecca Minkoff. Her company has embraced the direct approach to their customers through social media since the very inception of her brand with much success. Her Instagram pictures, Facebook and Twitter feeds constantly engage her customers with news and new products.

Locally, there is an ongoing conversation regarding how we approach style, if at all. How do we outrun the grunge legacy, the sandals and socks stereotypes that persist? We are more laid back than other large cities when it comes to following fashion, and that allows room to be creative with our style, or to choose not to have any. However, we have come to accept that caring about what is fashionable does not make you shallow. It makes you interesting. Fashion and style are art forms, an intimate self-expression. You tell a story about yourself everyday when you leave the house in your sandals and socks or your Jimmy Choos. To make an effort is a sign of self love and a regard for others, which is simply a form of social intelligence. Being true to yourself—not some silly list telling you at what age you can buy the sandals you want for this summer—is the embodiment of next-level style. The conversation around how unfashionable Seattle is dead, and anyone can see that being true to ourselves is something we Seattleites do well.

And now, some inspiration: By now, your summer calendar is probably chock-full of events. Here are a few of my favorite special occasion styles that I hope will inspire you and make you feel as good as you look.

Identity Crisis

 

A special event calls for a special look, whether it be a concert, a party or some other evening soiree. The exaggerated sleeves on this Rose Assoulin Helicopter Top are beyond cool, and so is the beautiful yellow color. The high impact combination of off-the-shoulder sleeves with long embellishments that hang from behind are incredible from this up-and-coming designer. Wear it with this Title A leather striped pencil skirt that makes a subtle statement of its own, and a pair of Charline De Luca Galatea Zigzag Sandals. Edie Parker’s clutches are coveted and collectable, and the Lara Acrylic Ice Clutch in Steel in especially a stand out with its pearlescent hue and signature ice ends. Add a vintage acrylic Chanel cocktail ring for a bit of old school glamour.

Identity Crisis #2

 

June means wedding season gets into full swing so wearing something with a romantic feel is perfect. Who can forget J.Crew’s Jenna Lyons and the feather skirt she wore to the nuptials of Solange Knowles last fall? To channel this look, look to the latest collaboration of J. Crew with top-prize winners of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. One of them, Ryan Roche for J.Crew, is the genius behind this lovely Merino Wool Fringe Sweater. Wear this textured piece with the long Tess Giberson Pleated Skirt in nude. Since the skirt is long, your shoes will probably just peek out, so what is more fun and feminine than this metallic pink pointed toe SJP pump? Carry the Dune London Belissmo Snake Embossed Pink Metallic Clutch to complete your look. You may be in danger of upstaging the bride with this ensemble…

 

Identity Crisis #3

Graduations from middle school, high school and college are also in full swing and all of these events come with week-long celebratory events. The elegance of this on-trend white lace Ann Taylor skirt is just the thing for such an occasion, and I think it would be very pretty with the Rebecca Minkoff black silk Trina top. The J. Crew Floral Wreath Necklace should hit perfectly at the top of the blouse and gives great impact. Speaking of impact, this Christian Louboutin Sweety Charity Spiked Bicolor Crossbody (now that is quite a big name for a small bag) sports a grosgrain interior in signature red. Wear these Carven Black Patent Leather Flats with this look. These shoes are one of my favorites because of their contemporary take on a classic ballet flat.

Whether you are the low-key kind or like the look of high-impact pieces, finding what suits you best in the midst of all the choices can be both fun and refreshing. Whether it’s a graduation, wedding or other special event, these pieces are perfect for telling your own unique story—and making you look damn good while doing it.

Lisa Cole is the fashion and style writer for Vanguard Seattle, and her work includes her monthly column, Wear It Out, in which she styles looks based on the monthly theme of the magazine. Cole also covers fashion news and events, runway shows and boutiques. She has her own fashion and lifestyle blog, www.westfultonstreet.com, and is a member of Independent Fashion Bloggers and Fashion Group International.