Wednesday, February 1, 2012

WHAT IS CHIC? MY LESSON ON FASHION VS. STYLE FROM THE FACEBOOK TIMELINE (REALLY)

We would all like to think of ourselves as timelessly chic. We would like to think that we are savvy enough (and insider-y enough) to wear the latest trends with ease, but still retain a sense of personal style that transcends the decades.
But sometimes, that is not true. Sometimes, we just are not chic.
The recent roll-out of the Facebook Timeline has suddenly brought this glaring, shocking, and somewhat debilitating truth to my attention. This horrid new feature makes it easier to view your Facebook activity by year, thereby granting immediate access to photos from the time you very first joined Facebook. Like many college students who joined within the first years of the social network’s inception, I joined in the early 2000′s.
Let’s quickly take a journey back to the early 2000′s, before the recession hit, and flash-and-cash was de rigueur. As the 1990′s drifted into the past, the angst of teen spirit was wearing off and minimalism was starting to seem, well, just boring. Buoyed by a raging economy of the new millennium, America longed to trade in depressed heroin chic for some good, glittery fun. Tom Ford was at the helm of Gucci, instilling a “sex-fueled… woman-as-glamazaon” aesthetic (Style.com) that pervaded international culture. Vogue ran features in nearly every issue on how to tone one’s legs in preparation for steadily rising hemlines (accompanied by photos of Doutzen Kroes et all in second-skin Hervé Légers). Starlets were snapped in everything shiny, sparkly, and loud. Tans were intense. Highlights were intense. It was glitz. It wasn’t always glamour.
Similarly, photos of my first year of Facebook are not always glamour. Bandage dresses, sequin embellishments, and Juicy Couture are all happening. When the new Timeline first revealed this, I felt sick: “What??! How did I allow this??! Am I just not an inherently chic person?!!” Then, like any depressed girl whose very identity has just been shaken, I took to the couch, ice cream in hand, and zoned out to E! reruns of early “Sex and the City”. That is when I saw it. Sarah Jessica Parker, fashion icon of our time, prophetess of all that is chic, wearing a painted-on orange miniskirt, flashy gold belt, and a red bra under an outrageous green (green!) top. I quickly pressed “Info” on my remote control, and found that the episode had originally aired in 2001. A sigh of relief. The early 2000′s: when even Carrie Bradshaw looked like a hooker.

Although Yves Saint Laurent’s famous assertion that “fashion fades and style remains” is certainly very true, even the chicest among us embrace current fashion to express personal style. It would be wonderful if we never mis-stepped, bucking all trends in favor of fail-safe classics to appear timeless in all of our photos. But that would also mean never really living in the current moment. Both Sarah Jessica Parker and her character Carrie Bradshaw are style icons precisely because they weren’t afraid to fail. They took risks, they made mistakes, but they did so with exuberance, passion, and joie de vivre. They had FUN. That enthusiasm for getting up and getting dressed to fully embrace every day is exactly what makes a woman inherently chic. Even when, in the next decade, our photos just are not.


Here are a few more of the world’s chicest women photographed in the early 2000′s– embracing the bygone today, taking risks with fashion, having fun, and remaining stylish in 2012:


Charlize Theron in 2001 & 2012
        
Katie Holmes in 2001 & 2012
      
Kirsten Dunst in 2001 & 2012

        
Nicole Richie in 2003 & 2011

Jennifer Lopez in 2001 & 2011

Nicole Kidman in 2000 & 2012

Victoria Beckham in 2007 & 2012

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