UGG, an Australian brand of luxury sheepskin footwear, may be all the rage, but Canada’s top fashion designers agree: they’re a perfect example of trend versus style. “UGGs are the big thing so a trendy person will go out and buy them whether they look good or not. Stylish people won’t do that,” says Toronto-based designer Sunny Choi.
If you wear (or covet) a pair of UGGs and you’re starting to feel like a fashion victim, take heart. According to Brian Bailey, one of Canada’s most well-known designers, trendy can be fun. “Brooches are trendy right now and if you put one on it helps you feel current with what’s going on in the fashion world today. But a trendy piece is not something that’s going to last forever.”
The fleeting nature of trends means they’re only around for a season or two. Military jackets, knee-socks and super short skirts are all examples of trends that have passed. Rory Lindo, one of the designers behind the label Damzels in this Dress, says “Celebrities, movies and magazines have a big influence on trends. Take that movie Mean Girls, that started the trend with the really short skirt with the crinoline underneath.”
The influence of media on fashion means that trends come and go quickly. Trendy celebrities like Paris Hilton, Jennifer Lopez and Jessica Simpson popularize a certain look. It quickly becomes fashionable, but then gets old just as fast. “In the past you didn’t have the same perception of what was happening in the world. Now if you watch MTV and Britney Spears wears a certain top in a video clip you can be sure that all the teenagers will be asking for it the next day,” says Christian Bagnoud, director of marketing for H&M Canada.
With everyone vying for the same looks, trendy clothes are very much a part of the mainstream. For Montreal designer, Philippe Dubuc, fashion becomes style when it’s individualistic. “I have always thought of fashion in an individual way. But when you are a teenager, individuality is something that’s hard because you want to be part of a group. If you really want to dress your own way it can be difficult to be accepted,” Dubuc says.
Putting your own personal stamp on fashion takes self-confidence. Stylish people have a good sense of themselves and they project positive body language. David Bowie, Nicole Kidman and Madonna are all stylish, although Madonna is both trendy and stylish. “Someone once said that fashion is what you’re offered. Style is what you choose. Stylish people know themselves and what’s right for them,” says Jeanne Beker, star of Fashion Television and editor-in-chief of FQ Magazine. “They choose to dress in what they feel good in and what they adore. A trendy person simply follows the crowd.”
While stylish people do pay attention to trends, they don’t just copy what they see in a fashion magazine. Stylish people are not afraid to mix designer labels with second-hand and discount clothing. The television show Sex in the City started a lot of trends because Sarah Jessica Parker’s character had a lot of style. She mixed clothes that weren’t necessarily in or out of fashion.
“Trendy people want to show off their designer labels and logos. It’s very important for them to establish themselves in a certain social milieu,” Dubuc says. In contrast, stylish people might wear designer clothes, but they will wear them casually.
To some extent, stylish people are born with their fashion sense. “It’s like a radar,” Choi says. Style icons like Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy are examples of people with an innate sense of style.
These days you can express your style in different ways according to your mood, on a particular day. Seeking out second-hand clothes and combing the racks of discount shops may take some time, but it’s a great way to create a personal look without spending a lot of money.
“I’ve seen wealthy people wear expensive designer clothes and they still didn’t manage to pull it off. I’ve also seen people buy from thrift shops and have a great sense of fit, style and attitude. Money helps but it’s not the be all end all,” says Franco Mirabelli, a Toronto designer.
With all the options available, you can be adventurous with fashion. “Try to seek out imaginative ways to make your style voice heard,” Beker says. “For example, vintage dressing really allows people the opportunity to dress in a unique way. It’s always inspiring to look for unusual accessories and not subscribe to merely donning what’s hot right now.”
And what if you make a mistake and end up looking silly? Don’t worry about it—the mistakes are half the fun. Besides, your friends will probably think you did it on purpose. You might even start a new trend.