Although both terms are often used interchangeably, fashion and style are two very distinct concepts. Fashion is a style that is popular at a particular time, while style is more individual, more person. Style is more of a distinct signature look. There are nuanced qualities that distinguish fashion from style, and we’ll be taking a deeper look at those distinctions below.
1. Conformity vs. Individuality
Have you ever noticed a clothing trend that seemed to be everywhere at the same time? The majority of people often hop on the latest trends as promoted by popular designers, influencers, and the media. This is because fashion has a conformist nature, with majority of the society wearing the same clothing, colour patterns, and accessories. However, style is personal and unique, dictated by preference rather than a desire for conformity.
2. Temporal vs. Timeless
In the mid-20th century, ruffles and frills were all the rage as the Second World War and its attendant rationing came to an end. However, in the 21st century, this fad now seems to be “out of fashion.” This is just one example of how transient and fleeting fashion trends are. In contrast, an individual’s personal style often remains the same. No matter how often fashion trends come and go, and although a particular style may no longer be at the height of fashion, a stylish wardrobe never goes out of style.
3. Rigidity vs. Flexibility
Ever heard anyone say, “denim on denim is a taboo” or “never wear two different patterns at once”? Fashion trends often come with strict rules on how to pair colours, fabrics and accessories. However, a person’s style can’t be limited by the dictates of fashion influencers and designers. Rather, style is developed on the basis of creativity, personality, culture, body type, and preference. Therefore, it’s possible to be stylish without being fashionable.
4. Costly vs. Convenient
Once upon a time, fur was considered a mere necessity to protect against harsh weather conditions. However, when they began to be perceived as items of luxury, the price of fur went up. Even in modern times, fashion-forward items are usually more expensive than regular clothes due to high demand and the perception of glamour that surrounds popular fashion designers. On the other hand, stylish clothes don’t necessarily have to be costly. It’s possible to maintain a stylish look with budget-friendly clothes.
5. Elitist vs. Inclusive
Fashion is innately exclusive. It basically implies that when “A” is on trend, “B” is unfashionable. Because of the elitist nature of fashion, anything other than the current trend is often perceived to be old-fashioned and outdated. However, style is stable and based on individual tastes, so it is hardly ever exclusionary.
In summary, the concepts of fashion and style are distinct, yet intertwined. Fashion can be a part of style, while a style can also be in fashion. Whereas fashion is often conformist, temporal, rigid, costly, and elitist, style tends to be individualistic, timeless, flexible, convenient, and inclusive.