The Philosophy of Style part 1: Appropriateness

Ebe gets existential and asks “what is style?”

For a long time now, one question in particular has been prying away at my mind, preventing me from getting my required 9 hours beauty sleep (which is essential given the workload of a fresher at St Andrews); what is style? (note how I have avoided the word ‘fashion’).

Evidently, God made us in many wonderful different sizes. We all have that one mate who stays stick thin whilst having appetite of a baby elephant; that one companion who embraces their ‘roundness’ with such passion; or even that one gym obsessed acquaintance whose arms are the size of your thigh. Better yet, variation between humans becomes even more subtle. Some of us have long legs but a short torso, or a round belly but skinny legs, or (like me) big feet but short legs.

Needless to say, each of these variations has significant bearing upon how clothing looks when worn, and therefore it is impossible create specific items of clothing that cater equally to the various different body shapes (hence my slight qualm with the word ‘fashion’). Style, on the other hand, embraces our bodily differences, and encourages us to, get off our backsides and seek out the items of clothing that  suit us individually. Each one of us can spot good style. We all know those super-slick individuals who turn heads as they prowl around the library. However, we also recognise immediately when someone hasn’t quite got it right.

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image courtesy of flickr.com

Now, with style it is undeniable that there are several guidelines to adhere to. I know what your thinking! ‘hey! Didn’t this guy just have a huge rant about having a formulaic approach towards style? And now he’s talking about adherence to guidelines?!’ But before you close down this page in a fit of rage, allow me to explain myself further. Good style is like performing Shakespeare. Yes, it’s important to add something original and interesting when performing it, but before an actor can even think of adding their own personal touch, they’ve got to indulge the linguistic devices good ‘ol Will strategically placed within the text. In this same way, with style, unless you follow one or two specific guidelines (before of course you add your own special touch) you’ll be face planting a glass ceiling.

For me, how appropriate your clothing is to the surrounding environment is one these guidelines. Girls, No matter how well you think you can mask the fact you are dying of pneumonia, being out in below freezing conditions with the majority of your skin showing just isn’t appropriate. Guys, being outside in just a T-shirt in sub-zero temperatures (I don’t care how hard you’ve been lifting weights recently and want to show off those guns) just isn’t cutting it, no matter how well put together your outfit is. Wearing inappropriate clothing is like handing in an essay 10 days late, it could be Einstein’s theory of relativity, but it still won’t get any marks! Now I’ll leave you with a picture of a stylish but appropriately dressed St Andrean. Next week, I’ll be chatting about colour, shape and proportion.

Ebe

image courtesy of Ebe Bamgboye

As soon as I saw Katie in the street, I had to drop everything (namely the conversation I was half way through) to chase after her and request a photograph. Quite frankly, she smashed it! What’s special about this outfit is the drape-like effect Katie has managed to create. Visually it looks as though everything is flowing outwards, almost like a waterfall, which aesthetically is very interesting. Furthermore, the mustard colour of the coat is very classy, and goes perfectly with the navy and dark green mesh of colours on her scarf. Most importantly, however, Katie looks well protected from the cold of this crisp November morning (don’t allow the deceptive rays of sunshine in this picture fool you). All in all, Katie is definitely a St Andrean with style.

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