I have a secret. I have a secret and I’ve been waiting until this column — my very last fashion column ever for The Mirror — to share it. Ready?
I hate fashion. There. I said it. Now let me explain.
There is a distinct difference between fashion and style, a fine line that often gets blurred and lost in a whirlwind of runway shows, flashy clothes and celebrity streetwear. But there is a marked difference between the two and I recognized that distinction many years ago when I read a book called “The Truth About Style” by former “What Not to Wear” host Stacy London. In the first chapter of her book, she argued that fashion is the industry that promotes “one body ideal,” and not only that, it is “built on, and thrives on, our collective insecurity.” While it does promote creativity in design, London said that ultimately, fashion is about obsessing over our looks and trying to align ourselves with the industry’s standards.
But style, she wrote, is personal. Style is about who we are as individuals; it’s about constructing what best suits us or enhances us. It is, as London said, about being “the best version of yourself, not a poor version of someone else’s ideal.”
These are the words that have changed the way I think about fashion and style. And these are the words I wish to leave you with. In my two years as your fashion columnist, I have offered advice on trends, done research into fashion industry news and even profiled some of our most fashionable Stags. I’ve done a lot of writing about fashion, but what I want to write about now, in this final column, is style.
While the fashion industry is starting to change, offering more inclusivity and showcasing more diverse images of beauty, the industry is not adapting quickly enough. So my hope, dear Stags, is that you never look at fashion — the industry — as a place from which to draw your self worth. I hope you never ogle at a runway show and wonder what you can do to look like the models that stalk down the catwalk. I hope you never measure yourself against narrow beauty standards, because those standards are not made to be met; they are made to be broken and challenged at every turn, because beauty is not one-size-fits-all.
Instead, my wish for you is that you build a style that is representative of who you are and all the wonderful things you are made of. I hope you realize that style can (and should) make you feel comfortable in your own skin — not make you feel that you need to change. Above all, I hope you recognize the power you hold in determining your own worth; you get to decide what makes you feel beautiful or handsome, confident or powerful.
Now my time to offer advice has come to an end. But before I go, I want you to know that it has been a privilege and a pleasure to serve as your fashion columnist for the past two years. I am grateful to have had this opportunity, to have written about a topic dear to my heart and to have worked with such an incredible staff to make this column possible. To the readers and to the staff, thank you.
Wait. Just one more thing: I have another secret.
The message of this column was as much for me as it was for you.