Personal style has become more popular than ever before. Not only do we turn to fashion magazines for inspiration, but Instagram accounts and street style blogs are now significant platforms in the fashion industry; marking the rise of individual style as the fixation on name brands declines.
As Yves Saint Laurent so famously said, “Fashion fades, style is eternal.” How right he was. Fashion, being cyclical in nature, is notoriously fast-paced as each season’s trends change as quickly as they evolve. Style, on the other hand, is impacted by much longer-lasting factors like religion, politics, cultures and subculture, weather, body type, profession, upbringing and the list goes on.
So what makes good style and does it go beyond the clothes we wear?
The rise of street style, which has been publicised by blogs and social media, has completely shifted the fashion industry. Even the most powerful publications cannot ignore the influence of street style photographers and the fact their photos, taken outside of fashion shows around the globe, are often more popular than the photos of the models themselves.
With the increasing popularity in social media and street style photography, the fashion industry - once considered the realm of the wealthy and elite - is now accessible to anyone with a smart phone and an impeccable individual style. Hence, personal style has become as significant as fashion, if not more so.
Melbourne-based street style photographer Liz Sunshine is known to the world of social media by her alias, Street Smith. Just a few years after her move from Townsville to Melbourne to continue studying photography, Liz discovered her direction and passion project: street style photography. Liz explains that her affinity with street style photography quickly became an obsession, and has been evolving ever since.
“Originally I was a content creator who focused on content creation and influencers, but now I see myself as more of a documentary photographer,” she says.
Liz explains how social media and the rise of the blogger/influencer go hand-in-hand with the relevance of street style because it’s accessible.
“Finding individuality and inspiration rather than a curated brand is so much more relatable when viewed in the everyday landscape that street style represents.” “We all love the idea that the girl shot out the front of fashion week is a regular person. It could be me. We all want an aspirational life; we all want to be that beautiful girl. Street style is the connection between the industry and the everyday,” she says.
It wasn’t until Liz started shooting for Melbourne boutique Green With Envy creating street fashion content, that her obsession with street style photography began. Initially aimed at marketing and selling clothes, Liz started in a commercial space shooting blog content for brands and influencers alike. Her focus has now changed to capturing people with a genuine passion for more personal style and how different clothes make people feel.
In a saturated market where individuality is the goal, it is hard to determine what makes a certain look, feeling or brand truly original. Developing a personal style is equal parts taste and function. The function element is dictated by your surroundings, how you spend your time, and comfort level, whereas your personal taste is just that: personal and unique to you. This is where style is cultivated. Your individual personal style should always be an extension of your personality and can be explored through a number of influences, as well as your own set of standards.
For Liz, it took a long time to realise that seasonal trends had nothing to do with what she should be wearing. “Knowing who you want to be and how you need or want to dress is really important,” she says. Liz believes that the recipe for good street style is head-to-toe consideration, saying, “Someone who knows how to commit to a style from their hair and makeup, to their clothes and shoes.”
“This doesn’t mean it has to be polished or fit into a particular genre. Undone style is also a very strong street style influencer, which is centered around wearing clothes effortlessly.” But when it comes to street style photography, Liz explains it’s not all it’s snapped up to be.
“It can take hours to find the right person, then making someone you have just met on the street comfortable is definitely something that needs to be practiced.”
“Last week I shot a girl in three different locations to get the perfect shot. The first location was windy and her hair was blowing in the wrong direction. The second spot worked but we still needed to tweak her position and then take off her jacket and drape it over her shoulders so it parted enough to see her skirt.” “Having patience and considering all the elements is what makes a good street style photographer,” says Liz.
With the digital space providing a number of platforms as a source of inspiration, developing your own personal style in the 21st century doesn’t have to see you to adhering to particular subcultures. Instead it encourages you to blur the lines between them and create your own individual look.
What is your personal style?
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