Do you polish your fashion taste over time and knowledge, or do you buy it? Today, we are going to discuss whether dressing well is a skill you learn or purchase!
As a fashion enthusiast, it is my self-proclaimed duty to meddle around anything that revolves around fashion or that is somehow related to clothing. I just can’t help but voice my opinion, on social media or in real life, whenever I hear or read about clothing.
With the beginning of my college life at Dawson, in Montreal, I got to meet a lot of different kinds of people, with the same or different kind of interest. I have been utterly happy with meeting people who also have interest in fashion, that I can talk and debate about clothing and such.
One of them posted on her Instagram story a picture of A$AP Rocky, featured in the magazine GQ (a.k.a the Holy Grail of men’s fashion, to my opinion), stating that he had style (picture of his outfits here: https://www.gq.com/story/asap-rocky-gq-style-cover-story ). I honestly had to agree, his outfits were very nice. But one thing struck me: the prices of his garments. Here are the prices of one of them: Coat, $3,650, by Lanvin / Shirt, $350, by Acne Studios Blå Konst / Pants, $895, by Emporio Armani / Slippers, $1,690, by Gucci.
Off my head, I replied to her: “Anyone can dress well with [high-end designer] clothes” and she replied: “Would he have thrifted it, I would’ve said the same” (shoutout to you Gavry. if you EVER read this, thank you for the inspiration). This little talk made me reflect on what I just said.
Then, a question popped up in my head: is fashion and dressing well all about money, or actual style and personal tastes? This question is very hard to answer since, in complete honesty, I think the answer relies on both sides. Let me explain.
Fashion: is style developed over effort and time?
As a student, I like to consider myself as a frugal shopper, trying to find the best deals at the best prices (read my article about 10 ways to make savings and you’ll get it). This part of me desperately wants to say that fashion is a matter of personal taste.
As I always say, dressing well is an art. Depending on how you wear things, someone can look good or bad, taking everything into consideration (fit, color, outfit as a whole, etc.). This is why some people can look very amazing with low-end clothing stores: they know how to make cheap look good.
On another hand, buying from thrift shops and seeking for huge deals (waiting for the good season/ window-shopping frequently) is also a skill that you polish. The more you do it, the better you get at it. You can dress for half the original plus if not more by thrifting and buying from deals; this method will definitely save you some money, I can assure you.
In that perspective, fashion is actually a matter of personal taste since it all comes down to what you do with what you have and can afford. In addition, it is clear that some people pull off in a better way deals and low-end clothes than others.
The only problem with that is that you might not find exactly what you want: thrift stores offer clothes that are not worn anymore, which can mean that the clothes are out of fashion, ugly, or any other reason that justifies why the previous owner didn’t like the garment. Also, deals almost always feature clothes that couldn’t sell: weird colorways, out of season clothing, etc. As for low-end stores, the quality and design is often questionable. You may have style and fit for the first few wears, but nothing guarantees that you will be able to pull off the same look later on.
Buying frugally often means to sacrifice some aspects of what you want in order to get it for a lower price, which can affect your future outfits both in quality, and style. For that matter, you can’t guarantee that your style will be on point when you try to stay low in cost and rock deals all the time.
There is also a crucial aspect that low-end clothing and thrifting will affect: the pride and ego of the customer. Would you rather have a high-end, respected brand that everyone knows of, or a cheap alternative, made by developing countries with a maybe-not reputable brand name? Most of you might choose the first option, and this is normal. Showing off nice expensive brands and wearing luxury is a desire we all have deep down in our hearts, no matter who you are.
Fashion: is style purchased?
On the total opposite, you have the expensive, high-end, designer clothing. If you’re from the middle class, the offered prices might break your heart and question whether you really want a designer piece of clothing.
If you’re a frugal buyer, like, you will try to deny as much as possible that style is purchased. Unfortunately, I have a bad news for you: style is purchased, in some ways.
Let’s be real here. Have you seen a fashion icon wear cheap tops for 30$ or a pair of jeans of 25? No. Whether they’re celebrities, models, actors, influencers, they all wear expensive brands and look good. Moreover, every person that likes fashion in my surrounding spends a lot of money on clothes. There is almost no doubt that the more you love fashion, the more you spend on clothes.
Why is that, you mays ask? Because fashion enthusiasts are always trying to look good and won’t hesitate to put a considerable amount of money into it, just like how everyone invests a lot in their passion (a gamer and his console/pc, an athlete and sports gear, a collector of any item of choice, etc.).
We, fashion-frenzies, love to wear good quality garments, whether it’s cheap or expensive. If we want a piece of clothing, we will do our best to get it and wear it. That partially explains why people into fashion spend a lot on clothes.
On the flip side, magazines and celebrities always feature high-end designer clothing because of sponsors and partnerships (most of the time). The bigger the celebrity/magazine, the bigger the investment for sponsorships and paid promotions. That is why influencers on social media and actors wear expensive clothing; they offer maximum exposure to the mainstream market. Or, some celebrities just have so much money that they want to show it off; that’s another possibility.
Now, some exceptions apply. Some influencers promote frugal shopping and got known for their amazing tips. However, there are exceptions all the time. In most cases, red carpet events or huge social events require high-end clothing. When people show-off their style and what they have, they mostly promote luxury brands et all types of stuff. I’m talking about generality here, trying to explain a phenomenon and answering to a question a lot of us ask ourselves.
So, why can style be bought? Let me explain right away. When I told my little story in the beginning of the blog post, I said that with a lot of money, everyone can dress well. The justification behind this mostly relies upon the word “designer”. In the pyramid of trends, the designers are the ones who create the trends. They create fashion and use celebrities, who set trends and show them to the public in order to give them exposure.
Therefore, buying designer clothes is directly buying trend, making you stylish and up-to-date quickly and easily. By simply paying more money, you jump right into the trend, before the mainstream low-end brands and the rest of the market.
For that matter, designer clothes feature every single thing that is to be expected in the trend. Here’s an example: I was looking for a tanned overcoat one day (you can see it on my Instagram account). I did every single shop that was susceptible of selling it. The cheap alternative didn’t feel perfect: it had a thin and hard lapel, the length was a tad long and wearing it didn’t feel marvelous. On the other hand, a high-end, 1000$ overcoat had the right length, the right fit, the right fabric; it was just perfect. But.. it was 1000$ and I couldn’t afford it with my budget.
In parallel to what we discussed earlier with frugal shopping, buying expensive luxury clothes gets you exactly what you need. You are (almost) guaranteed that the quality is good, the garment in itself should look amazing and you should feel great while wearing it.
Additionally, you buy heritage, good craftsmanship, the name of the brand, and an excellent customer service. With all that to consider, you may want to buy luxury for your own delight.
All that to say: even though you pay a considerable amount of money, luxury defines trend and buying high-end clothing will assure you style and good-looks. In that perspective, it is true that you can purchase style; the more you spend, the better your style gets.
My best answer to whether your style is purchased or trained is that it is a bit of both. As I strongly believe in frugal shopping by the way I got raised, I still think that in order to elevate your style and look good, a fair bit of money has to be spent on clothes.
On one hand, you could have very expensive clothes. But if you don’t know what to pair with them, you will look bad, no exception. On the other hand, you can’t completely get the perfect look with sales or used clothes because you don’t have full control on what you spend your money on. In addition, if you aim for low-end brands, you rarely get quality with cheap clothes, even at full-price.
In conclusion, balance is again the perfect word to answer the question. My favorite activity and my proudest buys are when I find expensive brand’s clothes for a huge discount, like my Club Monaco dress shirt I bought for 20$ instead of 120. That way, you get the best of both worlds! But in all seriousness, if you’re a student or someone on a budget and want to have a killer wardrobe, don’t force yourself to buy designer clothes. On the other hand, don’t try to buy the cheapest alternative to your clothes either. Quality lasts long, cheap doesn’t.
Here’s how I do it: I find a middle, a compromise between low and high-end clothing. That way, I get quality for a so-so price, a good brand name, and I mostly get exactly what I want. As a student, I’m perfectly fine with it.
If you don’t know what to spend your money on, nor how to find deals and polish your skills at shopping, I highly recommend you to read two articles of mine: 10 ways to make savings and how to create a perfect wardrobe on a budget. These two will teach you how to make your future purchases totally worth it, I’m telling you.
If you have a different opinion on it and would like to discuss it, feel free to comment on this article! I would love to see your opinion on this topic and discuss it with you!
Dress Shirt: Devred 1902
Back Pack: Boutique Spring
Shoes: Adidas Stan Smith
Belt: Perry Ellis
Thank you for reading.
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Ryoma Martin, from The Soul’s Garment
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*Both the featured image and outfit pictures were graciously taken by EASYFLASH, they’re an amazing photography team based in Montreal but has extended reach throughout the world! *