What is style?

It’s a word we often throw around but as a concept there is very little agreement as to what it actually means.  Definition wise I like to think of it as “a manner of doing or presenting things.” It can be a way living, a way of writing, a way of speaking and of course a way expressing yourself through your attire.

The concept came to my mind yesterday as I participated in the 3rd annual Vancouver Tweed Ride – do get yourself out there next year as it’s quite a lovely time even under the threat of heavy rain!  What you would’ve seen is a bunch of people dressed up circa the 1930/40’s in beautiful wool and tweed outfits going for a bike ride.  Beforehand we had tea and biscuits on fine china, were serenaded by an acapella trio and listened to a reading of “The Ode To Tweed” delivered perfectly in the classic English style.  In essence the present day was temporarily suspended as we jumped back into a style of a bygone era.

What is style?

What struck me as I surveyed the scene yesterday was that even as people played “dress up” they still maintained their own sense of personal style.  Each person put their own spin on their attire which for me is a way of communicating how they view style and the role it plays in their day to day life.  Which brings up the question – are you about fashion, knowledge, taste or pure style?


Fashion-based II

Fashion is about being on-point or on-trend.  It means that you are constantly evolving and moving with it regardless of whether it is good/bad or it works/doesn’t work for you.  This is the price that one pays for being fashionable – it’s a regular hit on your wallet as well you’re open to inevitable up’s and down’s that such a cyclical industry brings with it.



The knowledge based crowd is all about craftsmanship, quality and understanding what works for them.  They are aware and understand what goes into the making of clothes and value those elements above all else.  It’s important to note that the clothes and brands that appeal to this crowd are also part of the cyclical ebb and flow of fashion world.  At times they will find themselves at the forefront of fashion; while at other times they will be sitting on the periphery. The enduring quality of the clothes though – and the fact that they’re perfectly suited to the person – means they’ll always look great as well as being ready the next time the cycle comes around.



This crowd sits in the middle – they’re aware of what’s fashionable but have a healthy dose of knowledge that guides their decision making.  They choose based on quality, craftsmanship and fit in certain scenario’s while choosing less expensive, “fast fashion” for fashion moments that they know will disappear as quickly as they come.  It’s a skilled game of mix-and-match where one blends different levels of clothing to create a full wardrobe and sense of style.  In all likelihood this is the group that most of you would choose for yourself.

Pure Style – aka “Je ne sais quoi”

Je ne sais quoi II

Simply put – a quality that cannot be described or named easily.  This crowd has the ability to make bad fashion somehow work; while at the same time making the seemingly mundane and boring have a certain flair.  The “how” is the mystery – the clothes are often irrelevant rather it is the way they hold and conduct themselves that provide the special sauce.

In the end most of us are a combination of two or three of these crowds.  More often than not as we move along the path that is our style we begin to get a better sense of what we like and how to execute it.  But don’t just assume that simply means becoming more conservative as we get older.  In fact one of my best clients is getting increasingly bolder and more influenced by fashion as he gets older and in better shape.  In this case he is taking the considerable knowledge he’s developed over the years and is applying it in more and more creative ways.  As his tailor this is incredibly refreshing and it is a great reminder for me to not get stuck in my ways.

So who are you?  Do you have some knowledge and taste but lack that special flair?  Or is flair all you have and you have no concept fashion at all?  Either way I hope you’re feeling content as at the end of the day that is all that matters.

As always I’d love to hear your opinions on this or any sartorial subject for that matter.  Better yet book a free appointment and we can banter in person and see if we might be a good fit to work together.

Take care – Michael



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