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The 7 Common Reactions to Style

October 20th, 2010

Although I tend to lean more towards the unconventional (but modest) side of fashion, I do think that there are some things in fashion that take unconventional too far. Everyone has a different threshold for crazy fashion, and mine has gotten pretty high throughout the years. What I used to think I would never wear, I now wear and admire in others.

I came up with the different types of reactions that fashionistas have when they see a particular outfit. Take note that these are types of reactions and not types of fashionistas. Although this list may combine certain personality types with certain reactions, I still think one personality type can react in so many different ways depending on what they’re faced with.

  1. The mirror-image: “I like it! It’s definitely something I would wear!” – This first category applies to how you might react to the type of outfits that you are currently already wearing most of the time and think you look best in. You’ve defined your distinct style and haven’t moved away from it as much as you want to. You’re the most comfortable and at home with this type of look. My looks can probably be generally defined as vintage chic with 60s or 80s pastels, bright colors, and cute doll-type clothes. I think I look best in this category because I am a pear-shaped petite, so dresses and skirts lace nicely over my figure, and the 60s cat-eye makeup and thick fringe hairdo work best with my face and almond-shaped eyes. The problem with this category is that it only represents a small portion of the type of clothing I like and can pull off. I like a lot of looks, but I do not always have the right items to build another image.
  2. The alter ego: “I love it! I wish I could pull that off!” – This category is where reactions to a lot of your inspirational Tumblr photos would be classified. You are naturally visually gravitated towards certain looks that you do not or think you cannot sport. You secretly envy people who can successfully and effortlessly create outfits with this image. I really like the atmosphere created by steam punk genre. It is probably one of my favorite looks that I wish I could pull off. If I could just build an entire wardrobe kingdom with rusty metallic and dusty worn-out pieces, I could probably do it. I also like the 70s and 80s punk look in general, because punk and its offshoots are probably my favorite genre of music. Think Richard Hell and the Voidoids with needles and pins embellished on their leather jackets, but this time acid-washed and aged to rust. As much as I like wearing bright colors a lot, I really wish I had more dark pieces to complete my goal.
  3. The art gallery: “It looks really nice, but it’s not for me.” – The difference between this category and the alter ego is that in this one, you don’t have a specific goal to meet when you admire a look. You think a certain type of outfit is high fashion or attractive, but you personally don’t consider it your style or something you want to pattern your outfits off of. The way you admire a lot of the looks you “liked” on various fashion community sites may apply to this category.
  4. The pathological egotist: “This can  never compare to my taste. I am my own category.” – While this may be true in some sense, this is like saying you’re completely original and you do not gather inspiration from anywhere else (not even in history) but yourself. You secretly flip through pages and pages of fashion magazines but do not admit that you find inspiration from various sources. I don’t believe anything is completely original and outside the realms of categories if there are strings of words that can define it. The egotist is just a blind, proud megalomaniac who thinks that he or she is superior to any look out there and nothing can even come close.
  5. The elitist: “What a sad excuse for fashion!” – You know what looks you like and are inspired by, so when you come by an outfit that’s considered fashionable, but you don’t agree, or a trend that you think is just stupid, then you react like an elitist. I like a lot of looks that a lot of people do not like and vice versa, so I guess I react like this a lot. I can consider something as attractive but wouldn’t wear it for modesty reasons, but I wouldn’t react like an elitist if I thought the outfit was artistic and could be tailored to my preference. I know a good piece of clothing when I see one (perhaps because of the details or the fabric) even if it isn’t  modest. An example of what I think is a silly trend is the Moschino belt. Unless I can associate it with something significant in today’s or in history’s pop culture, I am most likely not going to wear it.
  6. The blind follower: “Oh, I like all things fashionable!” – This type of reaction is what I most frown upon because a lot of posers’ and copycats’ reactions fit in this category. I know I might offend a lot of people, but I really think people who say they like EVERYTHING that is vintage or EVERYTHING that is indie are just the most vacuous of all people. There is a difference between saying that you “like and wear vintage” or even “wear nothing but vintage” and saying you like EVERYTHING that is vintage. The first part of that statement I am cool with. I admire people who wear a lot of or nothing but stylish vintage, and the majority of my own pieces are vintage as well. Now, if someone says they like everything that is vintage, then to me, that’s like they’re saying they like everything, period. So 20 or so years from now when everything today will be considered vintage, that same person would probably say that they like everything from today’s culture. See how silly that sounds? I know this might just be a little confusing because of the wording, but the two meanings of the phrases are worlds apart. Although, I would give credit to people who like certain decades even if they liked everything from those decades. I just think people need to be a little more specific to prove their avid fandom’s authenticity and to set them apart from the blind follower’s reaction.
  7. The realistic downer: “There’s just nothing good about that outfit.” – If an outfit cannot be considered fashionable, stylish, or  artistic even if it was a little unconventional, then this is the most realistic and common reaction a lot of us have to it. The ironic part of the type of outfit this reaction applies to is that sometimes people who wear this type of un-stylishly cool outfit are doing it on purpose. Knowing how to judge whether an outfit was put together in a “blah” way on purpose to make a statement versus an outfit that was just sloppily put together is hard to tell. This is the kind of reaction I have when I see 90s clothing. Ironically, my husband LOVES 90s clothing, but for some reason, because he thinks it’s attractive, I think it is too but only on him. I find it cute when he wears his large flannel shirts and horizontal-striped “Gator” shirts he used to love wearing as a kid. I just wouldn’t admire  90s clothing or even consider it good on anyone else—I guess unless they explain their admiration of it to me like my husband did. I respect people who can actually put into words what they like about something!

Can you identify yourself having any of these reactions? Which is the most true to you?

I purposefully didn’t include the types of reactions non-fashionistas have when they see an outfit, simply because it would’ve take too much time to write and also because writing the extras probably wouldn’t apply to anyone reading this blog. If you’re not a fashionista and you’re reading this, I consider you at least interested in clothing, music, art in general, or modesty!

Below, you can watch the bands Flight of the Conchords’ and Talking Heads’ funny and sardonic reactions to fashion:

The scene below is from Talking Heads’ movie, True Stories, where there is a fashion show of purposefully absurd clothing. My “favorites” are the family-matching grass outfits, the cake dress, and the humongous  heart hat that tips the model over and off the stage!

43 Responses to “The 7 Common Reactions to Style”

  1. Ally

    Such an excellent post! I really think that you nailed a lot of the ‘reactions to fashion’ on the head! I know that I fall into the ‘alter ego’ a lot, mostly because of modesty, but even some styles that I can apply with modesty, or that are inherently modest I still feel envious of people who can rock them, while I feel intimidated to try them. Thanks for sharing this…it’s really wonderful:)

  2. Shey

    Oh my, I’m sure glad no one has left such mean comments at my blog, even if they think it sometimes it’s better if one keep their thoughts to themselves if they don’t like an outfit. It’s hard for me to say that I think a certain way because I’m always changing my mind on what I like and things I’m willing to try (talking about fashion). I think I definitely try more things than I did before and most of the times I follow only bloggers who I can relate to (fashion-wise), there’s others that have wonderful styles but are so different from mine so I don’t follow them. I usually try to stick with what I like but like I said I’m always changing my mind. =D

  3. Heather Feather

    I would say I’m a mirror image or an elitist depending on what it is I see. Also, I always have the reaction, “How can I make that, or how is that made?” I think that comes with being a seamstress though.

  4. Belle

    HA HA HA, I love John Goodman’s facial expressions. Hee hee…

  5. sweet

    Let us say…I am a mixture of the alter-ego and mirror image and a little bit of the blind follower hahahaha!!!!

    I don’t really follow the fashion trends, I always make sure that it fits me or I do not go to the extreme…but sometimes…I experiment a little bit just to spice things up…

    I think my casual taste in fashion lives up to the way I was raised and the environment as well…but you are really right in your opinions hehehe…

    Kisses
    Sweet
    PensandLens

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  7. Sofie

    This post was just awesome! I would reckon myself an “alter ego” kind of person… I just love eveything about this, and the FOTC video made my day, they’re the best!

  8. Krystal/Village

    this was so interesting to read! i think i say 1 and 2 a lot :)

  9. Mono_S.

    I will come straight out and admit it: This is way too much for me to read at 3am. I will tomorrow however, do not fear!

    Really I just wanted to pop in and say thanks for keeping with my blog, even though I haven’t been updating properly or commenting AT ALL for the last month or so.. I get easily distracted away from digital pursuits, though I will be attempting to correct that somewhat in the future (unless my dissertation has other plans for me!).

    Catch you soon gator! x

  10. Katie @ Beautifully Pure

    I’m definitely the mirror image! I have way too many similar pieces in my closet! I really need to start thinking out of the box! :D

    I really love Superchic(k). Their song, Hold is so moving, to me!

    And yes! I was wondering if we could be somehow legally related. That would be really cool! Where are you from, anyway? O.o

    ~ Katie

  11. closet fashionista

    I love this post, haha…I don’t know what I am
    Yea, I don’t really have anywhere to easily take photos outside since I have to use my timer XD
    and I’m a photoshop pro (graphic designer) and I still can’t fix them XD
    http://aclosetfashionista.blogspot.com/

  12. jemina

    I think I’m more of the mirror image, be safe in my place, my zone :). Brilliant writing, LOVE it. Happy Friday and Keep in touch babe, XOXO, J

  13. Sher

    I think I have a lil bit of the mirror image and the alter ego combined! It’s interesting to think that there’s so many ways one can react to style and fashion!

    And since being exposed to fashion blogs, I feel like it’s so easy to be the blind follower too. I find the need to check myself more frequently on whether I really like an item or I only want it because it’s trendy. It’s definitely a bit harder to draw that line:)

  14. cherie

    i love how you just explored the topic! I definitely experienced 1,2 and 3. When browsing through blogs, i think the alter ego in me do take on and I get inspired even if the said look dont fit me

  15. Victoria / Justice Pirate

    HAHAHA. this was so true that it was freaky! very observant of you!

  16. Hannie

    Nice post, I love your blog!
    xoxo from Hannie

  17. KANI

    haha what a nice thought out post..! i can’t decide which one(s) i am and i am definitely a mixture of quite a few of them there are times where i experienced 1 and also 3!

  18. Cheryl

    I think my reactions may vary between 1, 2 and 3 though I´d go for trendy things at times but only when I feel that current trend matches my body type and personality.

    Well-written post, Rach! :)

  19. jamie-lee

    I think I’m a bit of a Mirror Image/Alter Ego type of person… I just can’t get over how dead on this analysis is!

    http://pagesixxx.blogspot.com

  20. Closet Confections

    Great summaries. I usually fall into #1 or #2… And occasionally #7, but then I just keep it to myself, lol!

    Kendra
    http://closetconfections.com

  21. My Republic of Fashion

    This is such a great post! I am usually 1 and 3. :)SarahD

  22. Lyddiegal

    I feel like these describe my feelings not just towards looks, but specific bloggers.
    I have pretty much classified them, and I know that I the bloggers who I like and read the most, are the ones who have styles similar to my own, or styles that I wish to emulate.

    I’m less interested in the ‘pedestrian’ fashion bloggers, as well as those with closets full of couture. aka, who I don’t want to be, and who I will never be.

  23. Jessica Rogers

    LOVE this article! You hit on something I have lamented so often. I like so many different looks & “genres” of fashion, but money, space, and the desire to not kill the planet and engulf my domain with my fashion greed keep me from being able to harbor all the different shoes and accessories that would be needed to actually wear all these looks. I am a closet Steampunk afficianado myself… in fact just this afternoon I was designing a Steampunk skirt in my mind. I wonder sometimes how designers manage to keep their seasonal collections coherent. It’s so tempting to have one outfit inspired by this, and another completely opposite look, just because they’re all so tasty and deliciously creative in their own way. Creative ADD. That’s what I have decided I have. Thanks for sharing this!

  24. Valencia

    I have some of these reactions! Some all at the same time…lol These were sooo true about many women.

  25. Rachel @ à la Modest

    Haha, just pick one look to start with! It’s better to try than to not try at all! :)

  26. Rachel @ à la Modest

    Glad you actually watched the video! That makes me happy :)

  27. Rachel @ à la Modest

    They are too funny! You’re probably the second person to comment on the video(s), and that makes me happy :)

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  30. Prêt à Porter P

    Flight of concords, they are too much!! I love it!!
    I am like 1 and 3.

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  32. Emmett K

    I’d have to say I agree with # 6 the most. I think when people say they like everything, or all vintage etc, they are really saying they like nothing because they don’t know what they like or don’ like.

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  36. daisymay

    This is a really interesting post. I can totally understand some of those reactions. I think I have had them towards me rather than me toward others, although I relate with a few of the first ones.

    Daisy Dayz Home
    Cross-Jones-Photography Home

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  39. Jessie

    Such a great read! It’s not easy to write unique posts considering how many bloggers are out there. x

  40. Susu Paris Chic

    The art gallery talked to me… Some things I like to be aware of, general fashion knowledge type, but they do not have to find their way on me. Like stripes or clogs.

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  43. Mafalda C.

    I couldn’t agree more! I was laughing my way through your descriptions of these stereotypes, whilst counting the times I’ve come across all of them… I guess people don’t really set out to be mean or hurtful, they just don’t fully understand with every action comes a consequence!

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