Is fashion a waste of time?


As someone whose writing comfort zone rotates around lifestyle pieces and art reviews, I decided it was high time to branch out. Last week, I took the plunge into the world of fashion journalism. Thanks to the brilliant Who’s Jack magazine, I had the opportunity to report from London Fashion Week – which was an eye-opener to say the least.

Don’t get me wrong; I love clothes. About 80% of my income goes on clothes, and the other 20% on vodka and shampoo. I’m not what you would call a trendsetter though. I make an effort, I have a good eye, and I know what suits me, but I don’t have that impulsive need to trade in my year-old winter coat for a brand new one because it’s ‘so last year’. I’m far too sentimental to be a fashionista.

Designer Carlotta Actis Barone skipped down the runway after the success of her show.

I’m also more of a ‘guys’ girl’ when it comes to clothes. For some reason, when getting ready to go out, my natural reaction has always been to dress a little bit provocatively. It isn’t until I see my younger sister standing next to me in photos that I realise it’s possible to look better having your shirt buttoned to your neck and 40 denier black tights on. I’m pleased to say that as I’ve got older my dress sense has improved dramatically. I have my mum, my sister and my ex-housemate Olivia to thank for that, as well as my own tendency towards progression.

So, here’s a question I’ve often asked myself: Is fashion a complete waste of time? Obviously the concept of ‘fashion’ can be broken down, the two main components being 1) clothes and styling that make you look good and/or original and 2) clothes and styling that have recently been exhibited on a catwalk/celebrity and thus cause the pursuer to appear ‘fashionable’. I for one would satisfy the first component but not the second, and if I feel that I look good, does it matter that I’m not ‘on trend’? The answer is no, to me it doesn’t matter that I’m not wearing the latest trends all the time. What matters is looking and feeling good about the clothes you’re in. If everyone wore the latest trends all the time, or followed the same designer, clothes would lose the ability to emit any sign of a personality underneath.

Having said that, during my time at London Fashion Week, I surprised myself with how important I suddenly found every new design I saw. I became fascinated and awestruck, developing an enhanced respect for the ability to create designs that people would then be desperate to recreate. Fashion really is a form of art. The designers are all incredibly talented and deserve all of the recognition they get. To be honest, if I could afford it, I would probably become a lot more proactive as a follower of fashion. Much like if I could afford to deck my house out with original prints and photographs by my favourite artists then I would. With the position I’m in, I have no choice but to make do with displaying my own photography on the walls and wearing the same sort of clothes on a regular basis. I guess saying that fashion is really important is like saying that money is really important. Which in many ways it is, and in many ways it isn’t.

"All she wanted to do was pin the dresses to the wall so she could stare at them all day"

Maybe the real question should be, does fashion have the ability to make you happy? One of the girls I was working with, who happened to be a friend of mine from University, reluctantly wore pastel shades on the first day, because they’re meant to be big this summer. She looked good, but she looked even better the following day when she decided to wear shades that suited her complexion, and fabrics more suitable for this time of year.

In my opinion, you can look good without taking fashion too seriously. But we mustn’t forget that fashion designers have the divine right to be taken as seriously as an acclaimed artist. Fashion is about taste after all, and someone who’s able to appeal to the tastes of many, has talent.  To ignore fashion altogether would be like ignoring the cultural and historical influences on society.

For the record, every single person I spoke with during London Fashion Week was friendly, informative, willing to help, and so outwardly happy to be a part of it. I have never seen such a diverse collection of people all congregate for one cause, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t remotely superficial or shallow.

I believe that it’s important to take pride in the way you look; it says a lot about the sort of person you are. However, you don’t have to blow your wages following the latest trends in order to do so. High fashion has an important role regardless. It generates economic growth and creates bonds with other countries and cultures. It also serves to give Britain a greater sense of identity. Fashion, like art or music, could never and will never be a waste of time. Fashion both fuels and is a product of culture, and without culture we’d all be going backwards. Fashion tells us about history, about the present and about ourselves, whether we choose to follow it or not.

Check out my London Fashion Week show reports here 



About corinleigh

I like to live in the moment, whatever 'the moment' is, in hope that the future will take care of itself. This ideal boils down to two major things: a) I am a victim of fate (and a victim of all the ideology and cliches that go with it) and b) I enjoy everything that is bad for my teeth... tea, coffee, chocolate, sweets, red wine, cigarettes... I may or may not end up toothless. Who knows. Who cares?

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