Style & Substance

Style, Substance… and Staying Authentic

24 July 2017

Playing dress up for some of us began at the age of 3 or 4 perhaps… As kids, we might have fond memories of #SelfStyling, something that originated imaginably in our mum’s closet – parading in her jewellery, picking our favourites among her many timeless pieces, balancing on her high heels, and that final touch most often being a bright coloured lipstick. No matter how daffy we sometimes looked, we had a field day experimenting with colours, textures and we felt so confident doing it. We were so free from angst, so original. But, as a grown up, do we still approach style with such nonchalance or has it become a minefield of a myriad of choices and opinions that leave us with a bit of a style headache?

This brings us to that justifiable style dilemma – subjectivity in style versus direction from fashion aficionados. Exploring this further, we decided to try and understand what made some of the worlds most celebrated style icons. Be it Audrey Hepburn, Nan Kempner, James Dean, or Princess Diana, they remain relevant through the years because they liberated themselves from the bonds of social conditioning – REAL enough to accept their vulnerabilities, BRAVE enough to live exactly as who they were, not in the image of others. It’s this quality of self-acceptance that made and still makes their style attractive. Nonetheless, they still applauded fashion designers, they still sought guidance from stylists. Did this make them less authentic? Hmm..

On the other hand, in bypassing mainstream fashion press, we have some remarkable women from all walks of life — Hikari Yokoyama, Art Curator & Philanthropist; Christian Lagarde, MD, International Monetary Fund; Ariel Garten, Scientist & Entrepreneur; Arianna Huffington, Media Mogul; Amal Clooney, Lawyer & Human Right activist along with diverse lifestyle bloggers advocating self-expression and personal style — championing an alternate model of how we consume fashion. Less celebrity status, less airbrushed images and less trends. We are witnessing the runways that were once an amalgamation of inspiration, extravagance and aesthetic quirks now becoming more normcore, adapting themselves to the cultural shift that demands comfort and street style. Again, the question then is, as creatives, does this adapting to the crowd make us less authentic?

So, what is it to have an authentic style? Ironically, it’s less about this new wave fad ‘dress authentically’, but more about knowing what feels real to me, what empowers me. If it’s bold experimentation, so be it. If it’s a style that requires some steer, so be it. Maybe, there isn’t a right or wrong, a one versus another. Style with substance is more psychological and artistic than we would imagine. It’s a way of communicating our desires, attitudes, moods, values, interests, inspirations, aspirations, history – a combination of personality and lifestyle. We might sometimes get it wrong. That’s fine too. We then accept, learn, improvise…. and start cracking up reminiscing it. That’s the exciting and fun part of it all.It’s a journey of discovery, not a destination.

The intention is to make considered style choices, to understand what quality even means, to invest in key pieces that resonate with us and to pass them down as a narrative of our lives to the future. Being consumed by crazy trend bunnies advocated by the industry or what peers might think as impressive or crass might provide instant validation with minimal effort. In the long haul though, it’s probably not a great idea…

What may be an uber idea is perhaps to unleash that inner child that is in all of us.. the one who many many years back embraced this carefree style of experimentation and observation. Let’s make ourselves smile with such frivolousness, remixing and creative inspiration – wear stripes with plaids, avant-garde with classics, go punk, go preppy, or even better.. go both. The coolest part of this is we discover a new part of ourself we didn’t know existed. So, whatever you choose, let it be dictated by you.

Stay stylish. Stay authentic. Stay you.

0.3 Chloe Bloch

31 July 2017

She is all Style & Substance… and she stays authentic by keeping it simple. Chloe Bloch, Style Editor at Glamour UK, shares with us her childhood passion and painstaking commitment that aided her to Accomplish Further. Years of professional styling, from a Fashion Assistant at Elle and Glamour, Stylist for celebrated music artists to Style Editor at Grazia and Glamour, she is a testimony to ‘nothing great comes easy’ and attests the importance of staying relevant, authentic and building sustainable relationships.

My thoughts on Style … and is it subjective?

Having a sense of your own style is great, rather than being dictated to by trends, but you also need a sense of what looks good on you. You can take different elements that you see from the catwalk and from different designers and incorporate them into your own natural sense of style. I think there can be bad style and that can sometimes come from not knowing who you are and trying too hard to take on trends when they don’t sit well with your own style DNA. I personally have had absolute disasters in terms of fashion, one particular outfit I wore to a friend’s mum’s wedding springs to mind, which did involve leg warmers and heels, but definitely as I’ve gotten older my focus has been more on ‘What do I feel good in?’. I definitely think now I’m more considered in the purchases I make and I buy less throw away fashion. I’ll invest in a key piece each season that I feel is timeless and that I’ll keep wearing year after year – and I think my wardrobe shows that now – so less disasters!

My journey towards becoming a stylist…

My mum is an artist and when I was growing up her style was really flamboyant. She was really into fashion and I grew up really enjoying art. But for me that little moment where I thought ‘This is it – I want to work in fashion’ came when I was about 14 and my art teacher in school introduced me to this Japanese magazine which was full of all this crazy style which was different from anything I had ever seen before growing up in Northern Ireland. I just loved the “bonkersness” of it and I still have it now on my bookshelf. It’s so far from my own personal taste but there was something about it and how it was so free that attracted me.
But styling came to me fairly late. Growing up I always wanted to design and would keep loads of sketchbooks and I went on to study design in university. But I thought design was a very slow, methodical process and back then my life was quite spontaneous and there was something quite satisfying about styling because the process isn’t that long and things come into fruition quite quickly.

Great style for me is ….

I think great style should look effortless. I always aspire to be like the women who get it right by doing very little – someone who can look chic and stylish just by wearing a great shirt. I don’t like anything that feels too considered. Even in shoots and editorials the images that I like looking at are when it looks like a real girl in the pictures rather than a trend.

The biggest challenge I face in my industry ….

I feel like the biggest challenge across the board facing the industry is the decline of print media and adapting to the new digital space. There is something so lovely about picking up a magazine and seeing your work, and I find it hard to get the same sense of satisfaction online. Although now I find there’s more room for stylists in terms of online and digital so things are moving forward and there are more shoots for content online.
Also another major challenge is if you want to remain relevant and move forward you have to embrace online, social media, and you have to learn about SEO which until about three or four years ago was alien to me, so you now have to become somewhat of a jack of all trades. And I feel that the age of just having one discipline is over, so singularly in a magazine being a stylist is very difficult and you have to be able to turn your hand to anything and have a willingness to do it.

I manage to keep my cool by …

I think the key to the job is organisation and you have to have an amazing memory – when you have to keep on top of all these different brands, samples and contacts it’s a complete memory game. And it really helps to have a good head for faces and names because there are so many people in this industry, and it’s the relationships you make with PR which are so vital in terms of getting the looks that you want and getting exclusives on stories.
It’s a really sociable industry and a lot of it is spending time and getting to know people and making new friends which is really nice. I think a lot of people feel that the fashion industry is non-inclusive and elitist but it’s usually just a bunch of people who loves clothes and have a great time together. I think it’s a very competitive industry but I’ve found that everyone is very supportive of each other.

About keeping up with trends and staying ahead in the game ….

Instagram is amazing. I don’t read as many magazines as people might think I do and there are some magazines that I love to pick up, but really Instagram is where I find the new designers and labels. I used to read a lot of blogs before, but now I think a lot of them have moved to Instagram, and I can really get lost for hours scrolling from one person’s Instagram to the next.
For me the most exciting part of my job is finding these tiny labels. I think the bigger fashion houses, although they evolve every season they have their ‘woman’ so each season is just a different version of the same aesthetic. So I find it so exciting when I discover a new brand with their own aesthetic and clear DNA who sits outside of trends.

My biggest accomplishment as a stylist…

The way things are now with the decline of printed press and with such high competition within the industry, I think my biggest achievement is being able to do what I love everyday. It’s a really competitive industry to get into and I get emails from people all the time wanting to work in magazines, so I feel extremely lucky to be able to do the thing I’ve always wanted to do and to earn a living from it.

Advice for any aspiring stylist from my experience ….

You’ve really got to want it. It’s not glamorous in any way and you’ve got to slog it for a few years before you get anywhere. There’s also not a lot of money in it so you might find that some people in your peer group may be earning more than you, which can be disheartening. You need to embrace new technology and have a can do attitude and be willing to work your way up. You’ve got to put up with the more menial jobs at first like spending hours in a cupboard sorting through samples, hanging them up and then sending them back out again – and sometimes people have to do that for years.
Also in this industry, because it’s so small, it pays to be nice to everyone. Someone who is your junior one day, you could soon find working with you the next. I started as a freelancer in Glamour and then when the job opportunity came along I was already primed for it as I already had good relationships with everyone there.

What drives me to Accomplish Further….

I genuinely enjoy the working environment. I get to have a lot of fun and meet really interesting people all the time. And I get to work with a lot of very inspirational people and people that I love to work with. At certain times of the year in this industry it can become somewhat monotonous, coving coats in winter etc, but it’s the people at work that keep things.

The confidence booster in my wardrobe…

Hands down it’s a nice pair of shoes. It’s the biggest extravagance in my wardrobe. I find I feel so much better with a nice pair of shoes on. It’s great to have a break from converse every once in a while. I like to wear really simple basics and that is what my wardrobe is – a shirt and a really good pair of jeans – and I like to pair them with a nice shoe which is always the perfect finishing touch.