Is what you wear as important as how you wear it? I would certainly say it matters a great deal. Anyone with the money could buy an Alexander McQueen dress, but would they all have worn it with the same panache as the late Isabella Blow?
Take what I'm wearing above, could this skirt look more like it came from my great-grandma's current wardrobe? Granny without the chic - it was part of a twin set I bought in a charity shop, thinking it had potential. But boy did this one throw up a challenge! The elasticated waist is much too big, and on the coat hanger it seems to epitomise 'saggy'. However, hitched up with a vintage girl guides' belt and layered over a lace top, it began to take on a new look. But back to the question in hand...
I think in relation to models, the question of how something is worn is an interesting discussion point. There are so many models out there (just look at any one agency to see how many young women they have on their books!) So what separates the 'super models' from the rest? Sometimes perhaps it's just luck - going to the right casting or being noticed by the right person. But the models I hold high in my estimation are the ones who bring something of their own to the clothes they are styled in...
Some models are sometimes referred to (in what seems to me a derogatory way) as 'clothes horses' or mannequins, but I'm sure no-one could describe Lily Cole, complete with her pre-raphaelite looks and her well-known intelligence in this way. Or Karlie Kloss with her elegant, balletic poses? Or Chanel Iman in her exuberant shoots? These are models who not only wear the clothes they are put in, but inhabit them and make them their own.
Now those three models are very well known, but it is not only the ones gracing the cover of Vogue who manage to really wear the clothes, rather than the clothes wearing them.
Take Frida for example, an up and coming model with Select -
Take another look at what she has got on. A simple yellow shirt dress... Try to imagine it on a hanger - would it look as desirable then? No matter what the label?
It is that quality of self assurance, of belonging in those clothes. After all, why else do designers have their favourite muses? These women (models or not) represent everything that inspires the designer, that helps them to create something extraordinary.
My favourite shoots in magazines or online are the ones where it seems as though the model and photographer worked in tandem. Maybe it looks as though the model really enjoyed herself, or perhaps the clothes/ photographer worked perfectly for her. That moment when everything clicks into place: style eureka!
But of course, on the subject of the way clothes are worn, there are so many inspiring people out there and having percieved 'model looks' does not necessarily equate with being a style icon. Think of Coco Chanel, or Elsa Schiaparelli - people who shaped the history of fashion. Or maybe someone as modern as Christina Hendricks (of mad men fame.) Surely she was made to live in a sixties wardrobe? And she sure is dressed perfectly for her shape.
Or Alexa Chung - perhaps the woman responsible for single handedly making 'granny chic' desirable. If you were to describe, on paper, the things she wore, it wouldn't sound impressive would it?
-Brogues with bare legs?
And yet when you see her, you understand what all the hype is about. Here's someone who really embodies the spirit of 'It's not what you wear, but how you wear it.'
Looking back to other eras, one might cite the success of Twiggy. Who would have thought a girl of schoolboy proportions and a bob would become one of the most successful models of her generation? Of course her looks played a large part in that fame, but gawky innocence in shoots and the simplicity of her style not only made her stand out but brought something completely fresh to the clothes themselves.
As a part time model and 'self stylist' myself, I practically live by the mantra of the 'way you wear it' - why else would the majority of my shopping take place in charity shops and vintage markets? I positively revel in finding unassuming pieces I know I can create something wonderful with. The pleated skirt at the top is one such example, and here is another...
This Next silk dress is several sizes too big for me, but with the magic of a vintage belt it is suddenly transformed from shapeless to perfectly draped. Then a trilby, some white brogues, several watches and the look is complete. I jokingly called it my 'I'm with the band' outfit.
So maybe this is a small (scrap that, long!) sequence of musings about the fact that it isn't money or an 'on trend' item that creates style - only you can do that.
- I was recently asked to enter the Next blogger competition, in conjunction with their Model search. This post forms my entry.
If you enjoyed it then I'd appreciate it if you 'liked' it...
Sorry for not putting it up at the same time as the post - technical issues!