For some mysterious reason, ‘Steal Her Style’ features have become staple features on social media and in many publications. I write ‘mysterious’ but there’s nothing mysterious about it – it’s all about marketing, a lack of individuality, pack/follower mentality and the rest. However it’s presented, the premise is the same. Person X is wearing whatever item(s). Said item or items closely resembling them have been located and listed so that the eager desperate reader can run and purchase them and look like Person X. There’s nothing better than being with friends when you encounter one of these laughable features and absolutely pulling them apart – it’s as if those writing them pick the worst/ most laughable/ most basic looks they can find in the hope that someone will actually be vacant enough to fall for them! Some fashion bloggers often take it a step further and kindly (ahem) allow you to ‘shop their look’ directly from their blogs and/or social media feeds. Oh. Happy. Day. Each time I come across one of these features or shopping ‘opportunities’ the same question always comes to mind – ‘Why the fuck would I want to steal this person’s style?’
Actually come to think of it, why would ANYONE want to steal another person’s style? The irritating problem with these features is that they operate on some very shaky and deeply insulting assumptions. And once you take them apart you wonder who exactly they are trying to dupe and exactly how dumb they think readers/ viewers are. Let’s break it down.
Assumption 1. You the reader/ viewer want to dress like Person X. No really, you do. That’s one hell of an assumption. Perhaps you think Person X looks like they got dressed in the dark. Or you think they’re so trashy and cheap you wouldn’t want to be caught dead in the same attire. Or you don’t appreciate a walking advert trying to shove shady garments down your throat whilst passing it off as a natural choice.
Assumption 2. You the reader/ viewer can’t dress and you need style advice. Person X has been declared a style guru by the Fashion gods. You need them to show you how it’s done. Striking out on your own would be far too risky. Just look, admire and copy.
Assumption 3. You the reader/ viewer don’t have a personality of your own. You want to be exactly like Person X. Why should your clothes and the way YOU choose to style your looks say anything about you? Everyone alive wants to look like Person X. And so do you.
Assumption 4. You the reader/ viewer are a gormless sheep who needs to be led but fear not, Person X is here to walk you to the light. No need to do your own thing or develop your own taste. Just follow Person X into sartorial hell and all will be well.
Of course it all seems extremely ridiculous and silly when considered this way but that’s exactly what all this ‘Steal her style’ BS is built on. The idea that people are easily led and too dumb to make their own choices. Lead the idiots to the shops and they will buy. Not because they like it but because they’ve seen Person X wearing it. And as we all know once we’ve seen it on a celebrity (or often zelebrity), we’ll buy absolutely anything. Please.
There is no denying that we are inspired and influenced by what others wear. Every day we see friends, family, people on streets, at work, in publications, on social media etc and we see what they’re wearing. Sometimes we just take it in but at other times we think ‘I like that’ or ‘that looks great’ and it can inspire us to style something we already own in a certain way or to try something new. But it’s OUR choice, it’s not being spoonfed to us as though we can’t put it together ourselves.
More importantly though, when we are inspired to try something new based on what we’ve seen [for ourselves], we’ll do it our own unique way – whether it’s a particular combination of colours, how we accessorize, the brands we go for, the little touches we choose to add… We’ll interpret whatever it is our way rather than just copying someone else. And that’s when Fashion gets interesting.
Indeed much as we are now encouraged to be cookie-cutter clones and conform to selected celebrated Person X norms (many of whom are relying on stylists and sponsors), Fashion is best when it’s about expression, about saying something about who you are and what you like. By ‘Stealing Her Style’ you might well be lining her pockets (pay per click anyone?) and embarrassingly earning your ‘good little follower’ badge but you are also cheating yourself out of your own interesting style innovations. And in the words of a sage, ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that.’