Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Rewriting the Style Rules

A change is afoot in the world of fashion. All over the globe, from Caracas to Croydon, a mini-rebellion is taking place among style-conscious females – and it’s gathering strength with each passing day. We are, it seems, sick and tired of being force-fed information about what and who we should be wearing, which celebrities favour which designers and how we, too, can emulate their looks and totter around like an army of Paris Hilton and Victoria Beckham clones in five inch heels and bug-eyed sunglasses.

Turns out, these days we’re far more interested in what each other is wearing instead. Increasingly, a growing number of women (and men!) are using social media and online forums to share their secret style obsessions, posting images of themselves in their favourite outfits on a daily basis and inviting other users to do the same.

It’s not hard to understand why. The woman on the street is so much more accessible and real than the woman on the catwalk or red carpet. She’s probably not a size zero or supernaturally tall, and she certainly doesn’t pay a stylist to make sure she gets on the best dressed lists. By the power of online photo-sharing sites like Flickr and the blogging community, the elitist world of fashion is being turned into a free-for-all which anyone with a camera and an internet connection can contribute to. Never ones to be left behind, the fashion mags are getting on board too, with everyone from More to Grazia making space within their pages for dedicated street style reports.

Now, the phenomenon has even spawned its own coffee table book, What I Wore Today, which collates hundreds of images of women from around the world and where “difference and individuality are celebrated, permission to experiment granted.” What these images share is a disregard for the traditional rules of fashion or fleeting seasonal trends. Combining vintage and thrift with designer pieces, borrowed accessories with charity shop finds, there isn’t a celebrity ‘it’ bag or copycat look in sight. Every outfit is brilliantly, proudly unique.

Is this self-indulgent ‘fashion narcissism’? Or a mighty blow struck by the common woman against a handful of untouchable fashion trendsetters? That’s up to the individual to decide. On the other hand, maybe we should just enjoy it for what it is: the chance to have a good old nosey around other people’s wardrobes – and let others have a peek at ours.

WPR’s Top Five Online Fashion Faves – join to post pics of yourself and check out others’ favourite looks. – log on to pick up tips from Susie Lau, one of fashion’s most influential bloggers, or follow her on Twitter @susiebubble. – a collection of street style photography from New Yorker and former fashion industry insider, Scott Schuman. - more great fashion photography brought to you straight from the streets by Yvan Rodic. Follow him on Twitter @facehunter. – street fashion from Helsinki in Finland, compiled by Liisa Jokinen and Sampo Karjalainen in tribute to Fruits and Street magazines, the pioneers of street fashion photography.


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