Influencer style is a new term to describe a huge fashion group of the youth. Read why followers of different fashion groups build, and how Millenia and midlife influencer style icons differ.
- Cookie-Cutter Instagram Influencer Style
- Style Uniforms
- Recall the Perennial Cycles of Fashion
- Fashion as Opposition to the Older Generations and Group Identity
- Instagram Influencers: Uniform vs. Personal Style Root in Generational Experience
- Conclusions on Style Groups and Influencer Style
Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.
This week I read a post by Katherine Summers, whom I’m following for ages. I started following her because of her very British, preppy personal style. Her post talked about Instagram influencers who are all wearing the same look. You have seen them, white well tanned, slim women around 20 with wavy long blonde hair that end in several cream horns, lean skinny legs, wearing pastels, strappy sandals, finger-tips short skirts or distressed shorts. Swap the sandals with over-the-knee boots for winter. When you are not following one of them, you may even not know whether you look at a fast fashion store ad or an IG blogger. Katherine asked what happened to the individuality in everyday fashion blogging.
I think it has always been the privilege of the young, read women between 12 and mid-twenty, to belong to a clique with their own way to dress. A fraction of this age group has always worn sort of uniforms. Now it’s this Instagram Influencer look. Once the older generation picked up elements of the look and the look became mainstream, new style groups came up.
Fashion has changed over the last 80 years in an accelerated way as compared to the centuries before. Blame it to globalization and increased possibilities of communication.
Nevertheless, certain perennial behaviors remained like the wave-like occurring trends in grooming, for instance. When most men in their 50s and 60s finally get rid of their beards, the young men start growing theirs. Once almost all men wear beards, the young start shaving theirs’s. More on how to become a trendsetter.
Flash back to my teenage years in Germany in the 1970s. Just after the flower power movement. The majority in my class wore jeans – Mustang was the absolutely It brand – paired with sneakers, a (tie-dye or concert) T-shirt in summer, and a sweater or hoodie and Army parker in winter. Nike would give you a higher It factor than the German Adidas or Puma. Then there were those classmates with the glam disco clothing with their sequin wearing style icons of TV music shows.
Last, but not least, there were those students about 3 years older than the majority of my class. They wore some hippie or Mod clothes. Of course, they were very particular about not being us and felt superior as they has already privileges, we hadn’t (yet). Think off being allowed to smoke at age 14, to drink in public at age 16 or to drive a car at age 18 in Germany.
Those uniforms were in protest to the pre-war (WWII) generation of our parents. They had been raised to hate everything non-German. When the pre-war gen grew up there were signs in the dance halls saying “Swing Tanzen verboten” (swing dancing prohibited). In their youth, young women were cut off their hair when caught swing dancing, wearing swing clothing or listening (in secret) to swing and jazz on BBC London.
Oh, yes, my Mom gave me the hair cutting punishment also several times when I was a kid. And yes, my sister and I listened to the BFBS (British Forces Broadcasting Service) as well as Radio Veronica, a pirate radio station broadcasting from offshore outside the Dutch national waters instead of to WDR 2 (West Deutscher Rundfunk).
I was opposed to the political views of my parents’ generation. Like many of my classmates, I wanted to wear “American clothes”. Among my age group, I felt like an outsider because my Mom prohibited wearing jeans, soldiers attire or T-shirts, which she called “American underwear”. More on the history of the T-shirt.
Wearing sequins was a No-No too. I still hear my mom saying
“Sequins are evening wear and for TV, and aren’t even suitable as embellishments for Sunday’s Best.”
I had to fight a fashion battle as a 12 year old when developing style for the first time in my lifetime. The “youth uniform” – or wearing what everyone (of the It persons in your class) wears – gave a feeling of belonging to a group and of being different than the group of old people.
After 10th grade, a new group split off. They adapted a sort of look based on recycling old clothes and ethnic cheap clothing. Maybe the pre-step of thrifting. This style was easy to achieve by buying Indian clothes at flea markets plus rioting the attic(s) of your Granny(s) or may be even at your parents’ house. Even though I didn’t share the political views and favorite music of the group, I wore the Bohemian inspired looks. This style was achievable on my allowance. Most importantly, it opposed my family’s taste, at least one common thing with the fashion group. Ironically, Bohemian style went from poverty to luxury over time.
In my mid 20s, there were the Banker Look, Punk, Goth, just to mention a few. Like before, fashion was all about self-expression, political views, music favorites and class/group belonging. The former jeans, Tee, sneakers and Army parka of the early to mid-1970s had morphed into a casual style of jeans, white tennis socks, button-down shirt and casual blazer – business casual style.
While Grunge became big in the USA in the 1990s, East and West Germans remained divided dressing-wise. After more than 40 years of separation, what to wear when and where had developed different paths. For instance, a woman raised in West Germany would never ever wear mules to work. East German women had a hunger and lust for everything glamor, while the all black 1990s pop culture style uniform that had mutated from the Goth of the 1980s, and Grunge attracted West German women.
Gen X and the baby boomers have in common to celebrate individuality and diversity. Because there were so many baby boomers they had to develop personality, individual skills, anything to stick out of the crowd to get into college, graduate school, and land a job, you name it. Being unique became a survival skill, and still today, many of us baby boomer celebrate it in the way how they dress.
Consequently, mid-life fashion bloggers don’t strive to encourage their readers to wear what they wear, but to encourage and empower them to turn fashion into personal style and to interpret any dress code in terms of their personal style. Their blogs are about how to dress for success in mid-life, which is the title of my style recipe book that you can buy on amazon.
In the case of today’s youths wearing the IG Influencer look, it’s also about protest against the generation of their parents.
These millennial influencers are all about being equal. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with equality. On the contrary, I am all for it when it comes to equal rights and treatment and equal salary for people who do the same work. Given today’s salary gap between genders and the pace of its change.
What’s worrisome about the Influencer look though is that their leads all are of the same archetype: A seemingly upper white middle-class upcoming gal of northern European heritage (blonde, blue eyes). Tanned reads vacation/travel, not working or studying (i.e. Mom and Pop finance their lifestyle), or occasional jobs that make enough money to goof off for a while until the next job.
Well, I am even ok with their only occasional jobbing lifestyle, and what they need to become a fashion influencer. After all, it’s their life, not mine. I can even understand this lifestyle attitude as a response to or consequence of their parents’ worrying about social security, and retirement savings. But where is the equality (beyond belonging to the same social group) and diversity?
Imagine a World of Daisy Ducks.
Imagine everybody would be an exact clone of you like in Aldous Huxley‘s Brave New World! Wouldn’t that be a boring environment? A boring life? Would such a society be possible to function at all?
Anyhow, recall that everyone more than 20 years senior of their time’s youth was scared about the youth’s subcultures. It didn’t matter whether the youth were flappers, swing kids, beatniks, teddy boys, greaser, rocker, surfer, mod, flower power people, hippies, skinheads, disco, punks, Grunge, Goth, … and now IG followers.
The zeitgeist and the societal threads of the respective generations impacts their fashion, political opinions, music, and determines their Style Icons and personal style. Identify your primary style with this quiz.
Photos of me: G. Kramm
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