Park: Fashion Fatigue

New York Fashion Week proves we've entered a lost age of fashion.

by Annika Park | 3/2/17 12:20am

I’ve only recently found my personal style. After I moved to the United States from a country where it’s summer all year round, I had to completely recalibrate what it means to dress myself. But the process of starting my wardrobe afresh taught me many lessons, including knowing what looks good on my body.

Clothes are an extension of ourselves. It’s an expression of who we are and who we want to be. I’ve drawn my personal style from certain fashion heroes that I aspire to be like. I look up to the punk-rock Carine Roitfeld, who rocks all black like nobody’s business, and the doe-eyed Jeanne Damas, who I’m sure is a genetic splice of Carla Bruni and Jane Birkin. Those two express a side of me that wants to be that gamine, effortless and charming French girl who can eat croissants without the calories going straight to her bum. I also have heroes like Edie Sedgwick, who inspire me to express my twisted side that adores a perfect damsel in distress — the “Poor Little Rich Girl” who was sacrificed in the druggy mist of the Factory. Then, I have the side of me that appreciates a well-dressed woman, some great examples being Vogue’s Tonne Goodman — known for wearing a uniform to work — and Jenny Walton of The Sartorialist and J.Crew whose closet full of ponies (J.Crew’s signature pointy, kitten heel shoes) I admire so deeply.

From Roitfeld I sample the confidence that comes from a perfect, skin-tight black skirt that shows off your legs. From Damas, the sensuality of a gorgeous red lip and a crisp, white boatneck top. From Sedgwick, I steal love for sheer, black tights that give you an attitude like no other piece of hosiery ever will. From Goodman, the stoic charisma that comes from wearing a crisp, oversized white oxford shirt and a really great pair of ponte pants. From Walton comes that girly charm of the right pair of jewel studs and seafoam blue tulle skirt, paying homage to the times when all it took to make a girl happy was a pink tutu.

While I copy their clothes, I also draw from them their way of life and how they view the world. By taking notes from how these women dress, I am supplementing the part of my identity that is who I want to be. I believe every woman who likes the process of dressing herself every morning should have a fashion inspiration, an icon to start her on the path of what it means to dress as a confident young woman.

This is what concerns me most about young people today, and how the idea of “dressing well” has been overwhelmed by temporary trends that come and go. To prove my point, I went through hundreds of photos from New York Fashion Week, of street style “icons” whose photos photographers covet.

If I had the audacity to say it out loud, I would say that we have unfortunately, entered a lost age of fashion. Every look I saw seemed almost to have come out of a slot machine I used to play with when I was a girl that matched random tops with pants, accessories and shoes. Mute color Yeezy-inspired hoodies paired with a long skirt, styled up with an oversized leather vest; wide leg denim pants paired with chunky white turtlenecks and bright-colored (most often, red) pea coats. These looks were disjointed and seemingly randomized, like we forgot how to draw fashion from history, icons and ultimately, ourselves.

The state of this had gotten so bad that I was ready to scream if I saw another young woman wearing a pair of flair plaid pants with a blank look on her face, her blonde hair perfectly parted across the middle with an overly tightened crossbody bag slung around her shoulder. And mind you, I saw three more within the next 15 photos.

I respect my fashion heroes because they dress in a way that is timeless, and they are timeless because they have a style all their own. I hate to push the blame onto social media and fast fashion — now such a massive driving force behind the industry — but making stylishness appear too easy and too accessible has, ironically, come at the cost of dressing well.

So this is a public service announcement. Women: find your style icons. Creating a wardrobe of staples that is inspired — not copied! — by a select number of figures who embody a person you admire is important in building up your sense of self. Soon, you’ll realize what looks good on you, and that is the first step in developing a style that is personal. And maybe some day, you will inspire another young woman to find herself.