I was at a panel discussion about fashion in DC last week. To open up the discussion, the moderator asked the panelists to define the difference between fashion and style. I've been thinking a lot how I would answer that and the best description I've got is that fashion is about wanting to be recognized and style is about wanting to be understood.
For high school, I went to a boarding school in northern Massachusetts. The first graduate was Endicott Peabody and 100 years later Endicott Peabody IV got his diploma too. Before I started, I had been living in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. I had a crazy, funny, smart crew of European, African, Asian and American friends. We went to the beach pretty much every weekend and we spoke in a mix of English, Hindi, Swahili, French and German. I remember someone had a moped and someone else had a pool. We did the stupid pretend grown up things that 12 year olds are not supposed to do and most do anyway.
When I got to boarding school, I felt like I'd been dropped kicked into a dour WASP Versailles; palace intrigue with dorm bathrooms but no cake or costume parties. Everyone was from New York or Boston. No one looked like me or had travelled beyond a week long family vacation to Paris and summers on the Cape. Classmates asked if my family lived in huts and if I saw giraffes walking down the street. Everyday someone reminded me that I was supposed to be grateful to be there.
I was miserable. My first year I wore the bluchers, polo shirts, J. Crew sweaters and L.L. Bean jackets but they didn't take. I pretty quickly started using my clothing as a way to let people know that I wasn't going to get swallowed up by their New England bullshit. The irony is that once I started to dress for myself people to start telling me that I was stylish and asking me where I bought my clothes.
I want the things I design to empower people the same way. I am always grateful when people tell me they like my designs. I LOVE it when I see people wearing my designs in a way that my product disappears and their look, personality, vibe, mood, what have you comes through. I want my goods to be part of the their vocabulary. Style is about how they choose to have that conversation.
So how to wear a bandana? Wear it in a way that makes you look and feel like you.