Clothing has played an important role in our lives since the prehistoric times. It has been used not only to protect us from the elements but to also signify the people’s status in the society. Nowadays, we use clothes as a form of self-expression and to communicate our perspectives towards the dominant culture.
During my training as a personal stylist, I was taught how to put my clients into specific “seasonal colour” and certain “body shape” categories. I was made to believe that once I tell them what colours, shapes, cuts and clothing styles look good on them, they will immediately feel happy and confident!
These theories were initiated in the 1920s when a colour revolution had occurred in the United States with the development of new colour industries and the possibility of producing colour swatch books used as a marketing tool! They obviously saw the opportunity to cash in on Johannes Itten’s (a Swiss painter and professor at the Bauhaus University in Germany during 1919 and 1933) theory about the four different colour palettes corresponding to the four seasons, each of which included four different complexions (who he used to make it much easier for his students to paint more attractive portraits). Suzanne Caygill, a California-based colour theorist (1911-1994) combined Itten’s “season theory” with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “colour psychology”. Her own theory asserted that humans carry information about their personality and style in their natural coloration, and that through personal traits such as skin, hair, and eyes we can relate personal colours to those found in nature. This theory proved to be extremely popular and became the foundation for many colour professionals.
Nearly a hundred years later certain professionals, celebrities, social media influencers, the fashion industry and the cosmetics world, still use these theories in order to convince us into wearing specific colours and guarantee our happiness!
Moreover, our body shapes have been under scrutiny for centuries. From full-figured silhouettes in the prehistoric ages to plump, flowing bodies in the early 20th century, to a focus on young, athletic and slender bodies promoted in today’s tabloids and social media posts. In the meantime, to meet these ideal bodies …women would go through eating disorders, uncomfortable clothing, dieting, plastic surgeries, social rejections and isolation.
Nowadays, although women are no longer squeezing themselves into corsets, the media messaging and society’s pressures to adhere to an “ideal” body continues. What remains is still the notion that for your body to be “truly fashionable”, you must probably change it some way or maintain it in some way.
As a result, my training included various methods for re– creating the “ideal body shape”, (for who?), using certain clothes and shapes to disguise my clients’ “imperfections”.
Having lived with this knowledge for a while, it dawned on me that something needs to change dramatically or many, many more women will be sacrificed in the name of style!
I strongly believe that we need to embrace our individuality and free ourselves from the rules that define us by our social roles. Instead of following fashion – get to know our bodies and make our clothing choices not because everyone else has, but because they give us joy and confidence.
Let’s take everything that we are told (that we need to be a certain hair colour, have a certain hairstyle, wear specific colours and styles in order to be beautiful) and invert it by accepting that style and beauty is multidimensional.
Our sense of style also changes as we go through different life stages, it is our way of expressing our desires and they way we see ourselves though time.
Style is about each person’s complete uniqueness that is unrepeatable making no one person like another.
I believe that every woman can reinvent her beauty and break away from the fake stereotypes about what’s beautiful, and what’s supposedly not.
Let’s embrace our uniqueness – we don’t have to change ourselves to feel stylish and beautiful!