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Why You Should Be Stylish, Not Fashionable

When we consult with clients, a common question we hear at the garment design stage is, “Is this in fashion?” “This” can refer to anything – pleated pants versus plain fronts, lapel width, and a host of other minutiae. While it doesn’t hurt to be aware of what’s going on in the fashion world, our advice is always the same: you should strive to be stylish, not fashionable.

Style vs. Fashion

We’ve discussed style and fashion before, but to briefly review: Style is permanent and based on an individual’s coloring, physical frame, professional needs, and personal taste. It’s deeply personal. A man who has a command of his personal style could get into a time machine and travel fifty years in either direction, and he’ll still get compliments.

man in tan suit at fashion show
This Gucci look at least has *some* elements of stylish menswear.

Fashion, on the other hand, is fleeting. It’s subject to the whims of a fickle industry whose primary goal is not to make people look good, but rather to make and sell as much clothing as quickly and profitably as possible. The industry achieves this by playing around with the details of classic, correct menswear and convincing consumers that they won’t look “in” unless they buy all the latest stuff. This has nothing to do with what might look best on an individual – it’s all profit motive.

We see this most notably in fit – undersized Thom Browne suits were all the rage in the late 2000’s, but just a year ago, GQ featured a young man on the cover wearing what can only be described as a hilariously oversized coat and pants. He looked like a kid who put on his dad’s clothes.

The Superiority Of Style

sean connery as james bondLest we sound like old men yelling at young whippersnappers to get off our proverbial lawn, below are a few concrete reasons that style is superior to fashion.

man wearing pink custom shirtFirst, style is a good investment. If you invest in style – particularly custom style- , it’s true that you’ll spend more money up front. This is because the quality of the clothing is much higher in terms of fit and construction. Well-made, stylish garments can last decades if you care for them properly, though, so over time, the cost per wear is often cheaper than inexpensive fashion items.

It’s not just about dollars and cents, either. An investment in a stylish custom wardrobe is an investment in your image, which in turn is an investment in your personal and professional success. The dividends become apparent once strangers stop you in the street to compliment you (and they will).

The Inferiority Of Fashion

two men on fashion runway
Christian Siriano at NYFW 2019.

Fashion, on the other hand, is a bad investment. The very nature of the fashion industry is to change what’s “in” frequently – that’s how they sell more clothes. Who wants to rework their wardrobe every few years because everything they have is now “out?” Remember – your time has value, and focusing on a fashionable wardrobe will ultimately waste your time.

used clothing in a landfillTragically, fashion is also bad for the environment. Lots of cheaply made clothing that doesn’t sell ends up in landfills in perpetuity. As worldwide concerns about the climate and the environment in general increase, this is a pretty bad look for the fashion industry.

With all that said, it’s necessarily all or nothing. Savvy consumers can inject a bit of fashion into accessories to have fun and stay current. They just don’t build entire wardrobes around it.

Examples of How Silly Fashion Can Be

thom browne male model at fashion show
We dare you to show up to your next meeting like this. Bonus points for including the codpiece.

Fashion is taken to extremes at annual runway shows worldwide. We know that the outfits on runways serve as creative inspiration for lower-end retailers just as often as they do as taking a designer’s clothes to market. Still, this stuff looks pretty ridiculous, as is evidenced by the photos throughout this post.

Henry A. Davidsen – Focus On Style

man wearing light pants and penny loafersSome call it a personal brand, some call it image. Whatever it is, it’s your style. Our unflinching focus is to guide you in honing that style, something that makes you as an individual look and feel your best at all times.

Ready to talk about your personal style? We’re here to help. Give us a call at 215-310-0219 or email info@henrydavidsen.com to get started. We look forward to hearing from you.

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