Several years ago I read a sentence that really resonated with me: “fashion unites us, but style sets us apart”. Fashion and trends are, by definition, our shared viewpoint on what is hot right now. But style is all about individual expression. Fashion is about being like the “in”-crowd, whereas style is about standing on your own.

It is easy to see how this quickly leads to a “fashion bad, style good” mindset. People talk about being a “fashion victim” or a “slave to fashion”. I see it differently. Fashion definitely has its place as one element of style. I’ll even go as far as to say that you need a certain amount of the “fashionably now” in your look to be stylish. Why? Well, the current fashions are a common starting point. An inspiration.

Here on YLF we often discuss fashion trends and how to wear them at any age, body type and budget. At the end of each post I encourage readers to experiment with new trends and MAKE THEM YOUR OWN. Reader Patience did precisely that last week, making the following comment on my long shorts post:

“While the short shorts are cheeky with boots, I feel very edgy in my longer shorts and boots because I perceive I’m taking a risk by not precisely following the trend”.

Patience was inspired by the short shorts and boots trend, but made it her own by wearing longer Bermuda shorts. In my book that is style, because it is an individualistic expression of the look as opposed to a cookie-cutter version of what she saw in a catalogue.

The other important point that Patience raises is the risk factor. Creating a sense of style is often about taking risks, looking unusual and different to others (or different to the way you are accustomed to dressing). Nothing ventured nothing gained! Experiment and try new combinations. Save the looks that are hits and discard the rest. In this way developing a sense of style is an opportunity for personal growth. And fashion plays a role by kick-starting the process each season.

Another expression I like is that “fashion is in the clothes but style is in the wearer“. So express yourself through your personal style. Do not see the current fashions as a constraint, but rather use them as an inspiration for your style. The possibilities for your individual expression are  limitless. Add your own personal style stamp and you’ll find it liberating and fun. And the number one rule on YLF (the only one you are never allowed to break) is to continue having fun with fashion!