We recently had a lively forum discussion about the definition of edgy style. The different perspectives on the subject are well worth a read, but here it is in a nutshell: There is no one way to be edgy.
I don’t believe that lots of black, leather, rugged boots, distressed fabrics, studs, zippers, tattoos, and creating a general “rough around the edges” look is the only way to look edgy. These outfit elements describe one type of edge — a “hard edge”. It’s probably the most popular way to create an edgy style because these items have been trending for years and are easily accessible. Ironically, hard edge has become a lot more mainstream than it used to be.
To me edge is all about combining clothing, footwear and accessories in unconventional and unexpected ways. And in many cases, creating outfits with proportions that are not conventionally flattering.
Edge isn’t about a specific style persona. Whether your style is bohemian, modern classic, rock ’n’ roll, androgynous, arty eclectic, trendy fashionista, preppy classic, avant-garde, or sporty natural, you can create edge with unusual outfit juxtapositions. More specifically, edge is not incompatible with polish, pastels, lots of white and soft flowing fabrications. Here Tilda Swinton and Cate Blanchett’s style are good examples.
Edge can be about irregular or unusual pieces that have an edgy effect all on their own. But you can also create an edgy look by combining conventional pieces in unconventional ways, especially when the colours are interesting. This is part of a larger point that I like to shout from the rooftops: it’s HOW you wear an item that makes the difference, and not necessarily the style of the piece itself.
Edginess is a continuum. You can add a little or a lot of edge to your style depending on which makes you feel best, or is most appropriate for your work environment and lifestyle. It is very common for people to dress with more edge in non-work settings, but sometimes the opposite is also true, particularly for people who work in very creative environments.
Edginess is also relative and subjective. What feels edgy to you might seem very conventional to others. Conversely, an outfit combination that you find tame and expected might be perceived as edgy in your environment. And you can change the edginess in your outfits over time as your own perceptions and goals evolve.
Footwear, hairstyles and eyewear are powerful vehicles for edge. You can add a significant amount of edge to a fairly classic and conventional outfit just by sporting a more daring and dramatic hairstyle, and/or pair of specs. There is also something about the grounding integrity of footwear that ups the edge factor of an outfit when the style is particularly unique, or remixed in an interesting way.
Finally, edginess is by no means a prerequisite for, or guarantee of, great style. Some of the greatest examples of personal style are to be found in beautiful, conventionally flattering looks. What is important is how you feel about your outfits. If irregular outfit juxtapositions seem too jarring, unflattering, or inappropriate for your professional or social environmental norm, then they might not be stylish for you. But if you’re comfortable challenging convention, then edginess can be stylish. If you are a little uncomfortable about an edgy combination, but excited by doing something different, then it might be just the tonic your personal style needs.
This is the beauty of style in 2014. There is no one way to be edgy, and no one way to be stylish. Express yourself, be daring if that’s what floats your boat, and above all, have fun with fashion.