It’s better to be stylish than to be fashionable. Here’s why.

Yves Saint Laurent once said, "fashion fades, but style is eternal", and those words couldn't be more accurate. In today's microwave society, we've all fallen victim to buying the popular item at the time (yellow Off-White™ belt owners to the front please) only to wear it once and send it to the back of our wardrobe. It's okay; it's happened to the best of us.

Yves Saint Laurent once said, “fashion fades, but style is eternal”, and those words couldn’t be more accurate. In today’s microwave society, we’ve all fallen victim to buying the popular item at the time (yellow Off-White™ belt owners to the front please) only to wear it once and send it to the back of our wardrobe. It’s okay; it’s happened to the best of us.

We tend to confuse fashion with style, and how could we not? The fashion industry is built on highlighting styles of the now and disseminating the latest trends. Propelled by the seemingly never-ending culture of fast fashion and Instagram’s explore page, more so than ever, we are buying into fads under the guise of being fashionable. With exclusive sneaker drops, big-brand collaborations and the constant churning of content, trends are definitely the order of the day. 

However, there’s an obvious overlap between style and fashion. There are also distinct nuances that separate those who are fashionable and those who are stylish. While fashion is described as the popular way of dressing during a specific time, style is something else entirely. Let’s break down the differences:

Style is personal, and fashion is collective. 

Trying to keep up with fashion can be exhausting and costly. With constant changes, new seasons, and the latest drops, fashion is informed by TikTok influencers, luxury fashion houses and sometimes popular movie quotes. Fashion changes quickly, and as such, so will the way people are dressing – what was in today, will be out tomorrow. This is the business of fashion. Style, however, transcends fashion. Style is personal and is a means of self-expression that’s often not hinged on what is going on in popular culture. While it sounds odd, you can be stylish without being fashionable. Stylish people aren’t influenced by the latest trends, colours or cuts of garments; they like what they like because they like it, outside of trends. When it comes to being stylish versus being fashionable, a good rule of thumb is style relates to the individual, and fashion is more collective. 

Fashion is trendy, and style is timeless. 

Remember when we all ran out to buy the Nike Air Monarch because chunky shoes were in style, but you haven’t worn them since, and every day you wonder why you have these clunky Dad shoes in your room? Me too. 

Although it is cyclical, fashion is timely and trendy, and as we all know, trends do not last long. What was popular this time last year can quickly be relegated to the back of the wardrobe as we move on to the next thing dictated by the arbitrary guidelines of designers, Instagram pages and magazine editors. Of course, you can’t establish a timeless style without fashion, but style is more than that. Real style is timeless. Personal style is often absolved of popular trends and relies on personal aesthetics, developing a sense of self and wearing the pieces, not letting the pieces wear you. With this in mind, the school of thought when it comes to style is to not get distracted by trends. Focus on an overall style rather than the empty calories of being fashionable. 

Fashion is collective; it does not last long, and often, when you’re following fashion, you will look like someone else, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. On the other hand, style is unique; it’s internal and sometimes has nothing to do with fashion. Cultivating your own style allows you to flex your confidence and charisma, making other people take notice through your willingness to be outside of what is considered fashionable. There’s a danger in prescriptively following fashion and being a victim of trends. Trends will come and go, but style, real style, is forever. 

Discover more from GUAP’s Fashion section here