8 April 2011

Interesting article from Esquire on the fine line between inspiration and mimicking.

In Kill Your Idols, an excerpt from Esquire's Spring 2011 installment of The Big Black Book, Josh Peskowitz discusses a common problem in fashion: lack of originality.  McQueen, Newman, and Brando should inspire your style — not define it.

Peskowitz discusses the importance of having a style that is specific to you, rather than dressing like the men you see in the movies.  Sure, everyone begins their sartorial journey with the need for a little guidance.  Developing a style is similar no matter what the subject matter, be it fashion, writing, leadership, or public speaking you take cues from those you admire.  This is all well and good; you need a strong foundation in order to build upon it.  But the problem that Peskowitz is drawing our attention to is that you can go too far there is a fine line between using your idols for inspiration, and simply mimicking them.  The latter isn't style; it's copycatting.  As Peskowitz says, "if that's your idea of style, it doesn't allow any room for authenticity or self-expression — or any of the other things that style is really all about."

A prime example of this today, which Peskowitz specifically mentions, is Mad Men.  A few years back, wearing a pocket square was a spark of originality; a way to differentiate yourself from the crowd.  Now, the true sign of originality is leaving your pocket square at home.

The key, says Peskowitz, is developing a style that is your own.  It is okay to take pieces here and there from a wide variety of sources in fact, this behaviour is to be encouraged.  There is nothing wrong with using conventional sources like celebrities or fashion magazines for ideas, as long as your sources are varied.  As you come across different approaches that appeal to you and incorporate them as your own, these varied bits of inspiration will naturally synthesize into a style that is truly "personal".

You can grab Esquire's Spring 2011 Big Black Book here.

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