Inspired or Obsessed?
I wrote this column for my journalism final and had a great time writing it! Check it out:
“Oh my God, you look just like Blair,” my friend gushed. “I love your headband.” It was barely eight o’clock in the morning, and I had already received three comparisons to Blair Waldorf, star character of the hit TV series Gossip Girl and a fashion icon. My friend had given me the best possible compliment, and I was completely flattered. When I first became hooked on Gossip Girl, I worked hard to replicate Blair’s outfits. My beloved jeans and tees went into the trash, in favor of a more refined look. Over the course of the year, I gave up my old look entirely in favor of preppy, polished skirts and tights in every color of the rainbow. I balked at the idea of leaving the house without a headband, Blair’s signature. Nearly two years later, however, dressing like Blair had become second nature. I could no longer distinguish between Blair’s style and my own; they had become one and the same. There’s nothing wrong with mimicking an icon’s style. After all, everyone needs a little inspiration from time to time, and a true icon’s style is always in vogue. Nevertheless, there is a definite line between drawing inspiration and dressing like a carbon copy. The challenge, however, is to determine where the line lies. More importantly, are you guilty of crossing the line? In the process of drawing inspiration from your favorite style icon, have you lost your own personal style?
Millions of women don little black dresses every day. Are they simply making a smart fashion choice or are they paying homage to Givenchy-clad Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s? What about the legions of girls who choose to wear oversized sunglasses and maxi skirts? Are they trying on the hippie look for the day, or are they copying the Olsen twins’ boho vibe? The line between occasionally taking inspiration from your favorite icons and becoming a well-dressed copycat is thin. However, once your style and that of your favorite icon become indistinguishable, it seems pretty clear that you’ve lost your own style, at least temporarily. Without your own style, you run the risk of becoming lost in a sea of well-dressed duplicates. While it’s fine to incorporate elements of your favorite icon’s style into your own wardrobe, it’s crucial to keep in mind that your style should be first and foremost yours.
My tendency to follow others’ style is not entirely new. From ages three to five, not only did I dress head to toe in Snow White costumes on a daily basis, I also refused to respond to my own name. (Only “Snow White” would do.) While I wasn’t quite cognizant of losing a piece of my identity at the time, I’m glad that I was more aware this time around. It’s only natural to try on new looks and new identities, especially during your teenage years. However, fashion is a means of self-expression, and what you choose to wear broadcasts a message about yourself. If you dress exclusively like someone else, what message are you sending? Certainly not a positive one. When you impersonate someone else, you are sending out a message of insecurity, as if you aren’t confident enough to stay true to yourself. The result often appears forced, as if you’re trying on an affected accent or working hard to build a façade.
While you might envy Carrie Bradshaw’s affinity for Manolo’s or covet Lady Gaga’s outlandish get-ups, fashion isn’t about copying others. Rather, it is about dressing in the way to make yourself feel most confident, without regarding icons, trends, or what’s considered stylish at the moment. Fashion is always evolving, always changing, and there’s always room for a new style icon. Dress however you feel the most you, and who knows? You might become a style icon one day, inspiring millions of envious fans.