Cookie-cutter Instagram influencers
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 seens 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 or call it style tribe. 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 main stream, new style tribes came up.
Recall the perennial cycles of fashion
Fashion has changed over the last 80 years in an accellerated way as compared to the centuries before. Blame it to globalization and increased possibilities of communication.
Neverthless, certain perennial behaviors remained like the wave-like occurring trends in grooming, for instance. After most men in their 50s and 60s finally got rid of their beards, the young man start growing theirs. Once almost all men wear beards, the young start shaving their’s. Or think of the female trendsetters on shaving or not shaving the underarms.
Dressing as opposition to the older generations and group identity
Flash back to my teenage years in Germany in the 70s. 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 Star 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. 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.
Those uniforms were in protest to the pre-war (WWII) generation of our parents, who 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.
I was opposed to the political views of my parents’ generation. Like many of my class mates, I wanted to wear “American clothes”. I felt like an outsider as I wasn’t allowed wearing jeans, soldiers attire or “American underwear” as my Mom called the T-shirts. 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. Still today
Old starts at 20 years older than I am. #agelessstyle Click To Tweet
Fashion around 20
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 buyig Indian clothes at flea markets plus rioting the attic(s) of your Granny(s) or may be even at your parents’ house. Eventhough I didn’t share the political views and favorite music of the group, I wore the Bohemian inspired look. It was achievable on my allowance and yep, most importantly opposed to my family’s taste, which I had in common with the tribe. Ironically, Bohemian clothing is very expensive today.
Tribes of the 80s
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-70s had morphed into a casual style of jeans, white tennis socks, button-down shirt and casual blazer – business casual.
The weird 90s dressing in the unified Germany
In the 90s, you could identify East and West Germans by their way of dressing. After more than 40 years of separation, the way what to wear when and where had developed along different paths. For instance, a woman raised in West Germany would never ever wear mules to work. Also there was a hunger and lust for everything glamor among East German women, while West German women were attracted to the all black 90s look that had mutated from the Goth of the 80s.
Instagram Influencers: Uniform vs. personal style
In the case of today’s youth’s wearing the IG Influencer look, it’s also about protest against the generation of their parents. Gen X and the babyboomers have in common to celebrate individuality and diversity. The babyboomers were so many that they had to develop personality, individual skills, anything to stick out of the crowd to get into college, get into graduate school, land a job, you name it. Being unique became a survival skill and is still celebrated by many of them in the way how they dress.Personal style is everything. #agelesstyle Click To Tweet
Mid-life 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 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.
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. What’s worrysome about the Influencer look though is that their leads all are of the same arche-type: A seemingly upper white middle-class upcoming gal of northern European heritage (blonde). 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. 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 were is the equality of 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 youngs’ 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.
Fashion, politics and music are strongly impacted by zeitgeist and the threads seen by the respective generations.
I am wearing a posh casual spinglook to the office thatfeatures springs animal print trend. I belted my oversize denim jacket for shape that I had layered over a college Tee. To keep the look business casual I added court dess ankle strap pumps. To not get “blinded” by the low Sun, I added sunglasses.
Did you realize the hint of orange on the sole of the shoes? Nail polish! I colored the sole orange.
P.S. Like these outfit ideas? If so, please feel free to pin them to your own Pinterest board.
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Photos of me: G. Kramm
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