Thursday 14 June 2012

The Seven Stages of Style!

According to Shakespeare in “As you like it”, there are several stages of 'man' – infant, schoolboy, lover, soldier, justice, pantaloon and second childhood.  That’s not quite how I’d put it, but after talking to a few mums about their shopping experiences with their daughters; and my work in the corporate sector, the idea of this blog was formed.

Here’s my take on how Shakespeare’s stages relate to our fashion lifecycle, from the ‘can’t care’ stage through the ‘should care’ stage, to the ‘who cares’ stage!:
Note: These stages are not about solely about ages!

  • Stage one – Infancy:
From the moment we are born, we are clothed - usually with white to represent our innocence. Colour therefore already plays it's part - if parents are being traditional boys get blue clothes, girls pink (though it wasn’t always like that). Baby clothes used to be plain practical, but not any more... For some parents what baby wears is a status symbol - Just ask Harper Beckham!

  • Stage two – Childhood:
Time for school and if you’re a parent or an indecisive child, you’ll be glad of a uniform. Uniforms are designed to help children conform... and many people never quite break the habit. Despite these early years, kids can often have a strong sense of their own ‘style’ and if my experience is anything to go by, toddlers are definitely into characters and colour; and children can be very opinionated given half the chance!

  • Stage three – Our teenage years:
This can be a really confusing stage but for me, this is where it gets interesting. It’s the stage that often defines the fashion of a time (the 60’s mini, 70’s disco). Many teens may want to conform (but not to what their parents want) – ‘what’s in’ really matters. However, clothes also start to define us and which group we’re part of (eg punk, goth, mods and rockers). But what if the style of our chosen group doesn’t work for us? This, I understand, is a parental nightmare. My advice – remember what you were like... after all, most of us look back and cringe a bit don’t we?!

  • Stage four – The work years: 
This is when we may focus more on quality rather than creativity. We buy the best dark suit we can afford and try to fit in with our colleagues or social circle. According to many of my clients, at this stage, we tend to stick to a limited range of items and a limited range of colours. How sad. Are you here, back in a formal or in a self-imposed uniform?

  • Stage five – Easy time:
In my experience, the chances are we’ve slipped into lazy mode about now – maybe because as partners or parents, we no longer need to/can make the same clothes effort and focus on how others (eg our kids) dress rather than ourselves. We are also now likely to be ‘settled’ and ‘set in our style ways’. Mothers in particular, often tell me that they need to wear practical, comfortable clothes and that they don’t have the time or energy to make as much effort.

  • Stage six – Style Maturity:
This might also be another tough style stage for some as the question becomes ‘is this age appropriate?, along with considering what ‘is it comfortable?’. However, it’s also often around now that we might start to think “I want me back”. We’re more likely to be free of commitments, less likely to be in any kind of uniform, and we might just have the money to invest in ourselves. I don’t think we should wait so long but better late than never!

  • Stage seven – Old age/second childhood:
For some, style and fashion are really of little or no concern again but for others it’s only when we get to this stage, that we’re truly confident enough to say ‘This is me - I know who I am, my style and what I want’... Hopefully, you’re still in a position to actually get to the shops yourselves! You've earned the right to wear what you want, and had the time to work out your style... especially if you’re one of the new breed of OAT's (Old age trendsetters!) -!).

So - does this ring true for you (or someone you know), what stage are you at, and... Are you happy there?

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