Style survival: a strategic affair

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By Aleks Cvetkovic

Shopping, as I have recently been discovering, is a tactical business. At heart, we’re all creatures of habit. A little consideration can reveal the realities behind the myriad of shopping strategies that we all employ to ensure our wardrobes hit the spot this Summer.

Firstly, somewhere out there ensconced in their exquisitely decorated student boudoirs – exuding old-school elegance – are the ‘Investment Dressers’. You appreciate quality, buy sparingly and wear staples in classic cuts and colours. You’re most likely the dandies of the Oxford world; to whom British tweed and Italian corduroy are the stuff of the Gods! You believe that it’s far better to build one’s wardrobe around timeless, quality staples, which will wear well and simply get better with age. After all, as we all know, there’s simply nothing better than a pair of broken-in brown brogues…

Hungrily scouring the high street by day and night, there are the ‘Trend-Setters’. You follow the latest styles, the catwalks and regularly resist the temptation to enter into impassioned shopping sprees. Whatever’s hot right now, you’re guaranteed to have treated yourself to it, and as soon as it’s not, Ebay calls – and so does the next style sensation.

Also awaiting the next spark of fashionable fancy are the ‘Outfitters’. When something captures your inspiration – it just works – you buy that blazer and be damned if you haven’t got anything to go with it – that gives you just the reason you need to furnish yourself with all the required accompaniments! You can’t understand why you would spend your money on the things that hang on the clothes rails season in and out – staples are boring! Why stick with something that doesn’t make a statement, I hear you cry, why go with something that’s just samey? Of course, the Investment Dresser will argue that far from being boring, dressing in modern versions of time-honoured classics offers the opportunity to achieve a sense of timeless elegance and class. No bad thing, especially for the rakish gent wishing to cut a dash in a handsome blue flannel blazer, or the exquisite Aphrodite in a classy caramel trench coat, sweeping through St. Giles with an almost palpable sense of sophistication.

The Trend-Setter will sense the sartorial ploys of the Investment Dresser and baulk at the lack of ‘attitude’ in their attire – the apparent loss of fire in the belly for high-fashion – after all there’s a difference between ‘fashion’ and ‘dress’ isn’t there? Or is there? The Investment Dresser might rather see herself as timelessly stylish – and ultimately, whose to say she’s wrong or right? Fashion is an art-form, there is no singular way to dress with panache… But, if that’s the case, perhaps to categorise shoppers in this way is misleading; is it really such an open or shut case? Can we all be read like a simple style magazine, or is there something of this in all of us? Personally, I class myself as a dandy, which suggests that I should be an Investment Dresser, but I seldom have the sense to spend on the staples. If you gave me the choice between a pair of chinos in navy or fuchsia, I’m ashamed to say that the highly impractical pink would win through every time.

But arguably, that’s the joy of the whole affair – the ever changing nature of fashion provides an excuse to shop to your heart’s content. By shopping till we drop, we show our appreciation for fine clothing and thus help to fuel the development of new creations hitting the clothes rails – and ultimately, isn’t that what we all want from our shopping experiences, whether we’re trend-obsessed or infatuated by outfits – fresh fashion?

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