What is Style?

The idea of this post came to me last Saturday when I went to watch a documentary about a most fascinating woman. Iris Apfel, 94 years old, is stylish. She has been praised over and over as someone who knows about style. So what is STYLE, really. In the case of Iris, see for yourself, not many of us could pull this off!!


I know this is a topic everyone talks about, not everyone understands and everyone wants to have. This doesn’t mean I know what I am talking about, but I have decided to explore the meaning of this elusive quality.

Starting from the beginning, let’s what the dictionary says. Conventional idea, but a safe one, I feel.

style
stīl/
noun
noun: style; plural noun: styles
  1. 1.
    a manner of doing something.
    • a way of painting, writing, composing, building, etc., characteristic of a particular period, place, person, or movement.
    • a way of using language.
    • a way of behaving or approaching a situation that is characteristic of or favored by a particular person.
      noun: one’s style; plural noun: one’s styles
    • an official or legal title.
  2. 2.
    a distinctive appearance, typically determined by the principles according to which something is designed.
  3. 3.
    elegance and sophistication.
    synonyms: flair, stylishness, elegance, grace, gracefulness, poise, polish, suaveness, sophistication, urbanity, chic, dash, panache, elan; More

    informalclass, pizzazz
verb
verb: style; 3rd person present: styles; past tense: styled; past participle: styled; gerund or present participle: styling
  1. 1.
    design or make in a particular form.
    synonyms: design, fashion, tailor

    • arrange (hair) in a particular way.
  2. 2.
    designate with a particular name, description, or title.
This is a very long definition, but it has most of what I was looking for: flair, elegance, sophistication, trend, vogue, pizzazz…..you get my meaning.  If we keep digging, we can find other definitions: a distinctive manner of expression, a phenomenon that gives birth to an art motif, a specific manner of behaving. This is also why, writing about style can be a bit complicated.
Not trying here to make-up a new definition of the word, only trying to convey the fact that, regardless of long and complicated definitions, style means different things to different people. Consequently, we can all achieve our own!!!
Coco Chanel, for many the ultimate arbiter in style, once said: “Fashion fades, only style remains the same”. That is a mantra to live by for many women, but not enough yet. Most modern women live to follow fashion regardless if it looks good on them or not. What a pity!!!
If we consider this, then style is very personal. Still, there are certain requirements. Who decides these? and should we care? Also, we all can come up with a variety of women and men with a kind of personal style, but who are not considered stylish. Is this only a preference then? Are we to follow someone’s idea of style? Or are we going to follow our own and be happy with who we have become? From sophisticated to trendy, to in-vogue, from lavish to simple…..from striking to chic, from having or not that special flair: we all have our styles. Be proud of yours.
To help me along the way, I try to concentrate on another quote that I have striven to follow for years with mixed success. “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different”. I am most definitely NOT Iris Apfel, in the sense that I am not going to become famous for my style. On the other hand,  truthfully: I feel very stylish…..most of the time!!!