Style, Fashion and Personal Style – The Pressure and the Opportunity

Today, fashion is increasingly about personal style, taking the trends and making them your own. Women embrace fashion and use style to express their personality, but for many the pressure to create personal style is overwhelming.

Our world is more and more about image and how fashion and style apply to it. These changes are influencing our desire and ability to incorporate style in our own lives. The major market influencers are:

– Our increased interest in celebrities
– The adoption of all body shapes and sizes
– The mainstream availability of more affordable, fashionable clothing
– Hot, hip, stylish and sexy – 30s, 40s, 50s
– Women have less to spend on clothing

Celebrities are everywhere and we want to know everything about them. Where they go and what they wear are big news. They adorn the covers of our favorite magazines and endorse our coveted luxury items. We follow their every fashion move, we want what they have; Louis Vuitton bags, the “it” designer jeans, Gucci sunglasses … the list goes on. Celebrities today not only wear the latest and greatest fashions but they define what fashion is. All this media exposure drives the 'want' factor of fashion. We want what they have.

Celebrities are influential and getting more and more attention, exposure and mindshare every day. This can be further seen by the explosion of celebrities as cover models on our favorite magazines. Years ago fashion models were the cover models of fashion magazines, but today it is the stars of the big / small screen and music industry. Not only is their photo on the cover, but they are a prominent story that month.

“Jennifer Lopez: Is Soooo Back, on Marc, the Exes, and Her Tell-All Album,” Elle, February, 2010
“Christina Aguilera: I'm a Different Person Now,” Marie Claire, February, 2010
Oprah, “Don't Change Your Body … Change Your Jeans! Find Your Dream Fit,” O The Oprah Magazine, February, 2010

Adoption of all bodies. The increased coverage and variety of celebrities has also opened the door to what we perceive as beautiful. We are slowly changing the old stereotype of beauty. No longer is it solely defined by that perfect, 18-year-old, 6 foot, super skinny, supermodel of the past. Today we are exposed to a wide range of ages, bodies and styles – Taylor Swift and Hillary Duff to Madonna and Catherine Zeta Jones … Jennifer Aniston and Eva Longoria to Oprah and Queen Latifah … Drew Barrymore and Kate Hudson to Sarah Jessica Parker and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Mainstream fashion availability & affordability. Fashion has gone main-stream. High-end clothing designers create designer wear for mainstream retailers like Target and Wal-Mart. This availability of affordable, stylish clothing allows women to be more stylish and elevates the expectation of higher fashion and style for all. Stores like H&M and Forever 21 have opened many doors for women to embrace the latest fashion offerings at extremely affordable prices. This is both a blessing and a curse; women have the opportunity to find and afford more fashionable clothing, but also have greater pressure to be fashionable.

Hot, Hip, Stylish and Sexy – 30s, 40s, 50s. Thirty is the new Twenty, Forty is the new Thirty and Fifty is the new Forty – and the definitions of hot women in their 30s and 40s + as Puma's and Cougar's proves sexy no longer has an age limit. Madonna, Elle MacPherson, Teri Hatcher, Heather Locklear, Kim Cattrall, Halle Berry, Demi Moore, Salma Hayek and Diane Lane … they are all over 40. For women of all ages this is power. Style and beauty are not only for the 20-somethings. Women of any age and body type can look good, and when you look good, you feel good. Women want to look good, really good … no matter what their age.

Women have less to spend on clothing. The pressure of society to be stylish coupled with our global financial challenges makes shopping for a new wardrobe challenging. Today women are spending less. As per the Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor ™ survey, “84% of female respondents have the same to less money to spend on clothing this year versus last year (2009 vs. 2008).” So with less to spend it is critical to spend smartly. “Women are definitely being more careful about how and what they are spending on clothing … They are taking their time to assure themselves that they are making a smart choice,” Joanne Stoner,

In Summary women feel the pressure to look good and don't want to waste money along the way. By select the right cuts for their body, colors that flatter, styles that are appropriate and pieces that work for their lifestyle and budget they will be better shoppers and better dressers.

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