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Essential Journal

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Issue 49.5 – Style

‘Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.’ – Bill Cunningham

Sure, fashion is as much a statement of intent as it is a suit of armour, but I’ve always been of the opinion that it is, above all, a fickle thing. Don’t get me wrong, style, though arguably more fixed in its ways that fashion, is equally apt to boggle, beguile and blindside. They’re both confusing, Kafkaesque little constructs, replete with topsy-turvy rules, regulations and contradictions made all the more ridiculous by the fact that we wrote the damn things ourselves.

We all know the parable of the Emperor’s New Clothes: The guy with more vanity than sense, more money than taste, and more yes-men than actual friends. It’s a fine cautionary tale against buying into fashion’s many fictions; a collective folly we’ve all been guilty of at some point, I’m sure.

When approached with a sense of humour, fashion becomes an odd metaphor for life in many ways. We can feign all the authority and control we can muster, but we can’t hide the fact that, for the most part, we’re making it all up as we go along. Style is at its best when people admit to themselves that it’s not a science. Nor is style really an art. At best it’s a game, one that we don’t really understand but kind of go along with anyway. At worst it’s a series of happy accidents that we’re happy to take credit for when the chips are up.

Which is pretty freeing, when you think about it. So lighten up; wear the socks and sandals, mix your patterns, double up your denim. You do you, as they say. It’s your armour, after all. Don it with honesty, don it with as much authenticity, enthusiasm and conviction as you can. Or, you know, do it without so much as a second thought. Either is totally fine. But do it for yourself, because style done for anyone other than yourself is sure to see you stripped of your armour and left, well, naked.