FASHION – When you break it down, what does it mean?

Thanks to an acute interest in the subject, last Tuesday I found myself hunting for fashion’s meaning in the Urban Dictionary, the home of frank explanations.

Thanks to an acute interest in the subject, last Tuesday I found myself hunting for fashion’s meaning in the Urban Dictionary, the home of frank explanations. Typing the seven-letter formation into my search bar I prepared for a definition frayed at the edges, ignorantly opinionated and patronising towards the female race. A brutal but honest assumption.

Shunting my feminist thoughts straight into line, my expectations were shot down the moment I read, ‘Fashion is not what all the popular girls at school are wearing. Fashion is being different. Fashion never gets old, it just gets recreated. There is no right or wrong in fashion.’

My attention instinctively latched on to the ‘d’ word. It was apparent that people outside of the style-led sphere did realise this wasn’t a world powered by vanity and style generated OCD. As I absorbed this perspective my body felt tingly like the coke swilling across my tongue.

I stopped swigging and thought about what fashion meant to me, deciphering its meaning with writer’s precision. F.A.S.H.I.O.N. Cutting into the noun with razor sharp inquisition, I began with the letter ‘F’.

F. F. ‘Freedom!’ The letters fell straight from my mouth. Fashion is a daily dose of freedom we definitely take for granted. How many of us feel privileged as we get dressed in our chosen attire each morning? (I suddenly felt very grateful that I was able to write wearing an oversized knit with leather elbow pads, not a pretty midi skirt and petticoat combination in sight.)

‘A’. A was a bit harder. As a child my tender mind was taught to associate ‘A’ with Annie The Apple, however this was of no use to me at this time. Fighting away images of firm Granny Smith’s, I pursed my lips together and projected the ‘a, a, a’ sound. The audio aid worked. ‘Adventure’ popped into my head. Fashion for me was an adventure, a game I’ve come to play in the morning as I grow from naked sleeper to curated human being.

‘S’. Like a dog’s incontrollable bark roaring from his jaws the moment he lays eyes upon the postman, ‘Style’ shot from my between my lips. Predictable, yes, but an important element of dressing. Style is what defines personality. (I guess you can begin to imagine what my ‘I’ word’s going to be.)

‘H’. Again my thought processes stumbled to an awkward pause. As I toyed between ‘High street’ and ‘Haute Couture’ I realised I couldn’t bring myself to choose between either; I wasn’t about to settle for one when I wanted to use both. Just as it happens, ‘Habit’ was far more fitting anyway. Unglamorous, as far from stereotypical fashion as I could get, but true, for I am a sucker for sacrificing my style to black skinnies and a staple vintage silk blouse for an extra fifteen minutes in bed. I am sure you have been a creature of fashion habit in your lifetime too. You’re lying if you say you’ve not.

Then came ‘I’, the expected ‘Individuality’. I think that is a quality requiring no explanation.

My word was begin to develop. I was so far up to Fashi.

I struggled with O. Whenever I see that letter I think of ‘onomatopoeia’ and ‘orange’. Not orange in the form of Jil Sander’s peplum hem tangerine skirt from two seasons ago but a literal piece of fruit. Neither fit the bill. I sat there and pondered around the spherical form.

It was as someone walked past my window wearing roughed up jeans and a saggy top that ‘Opinion’ sprung to mind.
Fashion is an opinion. Not just anyone would wear his choice of clothes; you’d need a certain attitude to life to rock up in scuffed DCs. From admiring his attire I was confident that a laid back approach was following in his shadows, that his opinions were strong but sweetly relaxed. I thought about my own life; I often wear black, my opinions are also strong and quite serious.

I moved on to ‘N’ feeling happy with my ‘O’ choice.

‘N’. Nnnnnnn. I began throbbing my tongue around in my mouth making the ‘n’ sound. I wasn’t sure whether I was running out of ideas or the words I wanted weren’t to be delivered with this tricky ‘N’ letter. Character, clothes, identity (oh, there’s another good ‘I’ one), choice, energy, wisdom, personality. All wanted to be included but without ‘N’ as their lead letter I was forced to shunt them to the back of my mind.

I thought what fashion does for a person, despite providing them with an outer layer that will protect them from inappropriate exposure convictions. I thought about the confidence they give us, a wall to hide behind, the attention they draw in our direction, the story they tell about our life.

And just like that, ‘narration’ sprang to my mind. My ‘N’ word had been conceived.

I sat back and admired my wordy arrangement. If I was a mathematician I would of displayed my findings in the shape of a heptagon, but I’m not. My magnetic field draws Lanvin shoes and complicated letter arrangements so I wrote my answers out in one neat tidy line.

Freedom. Adventure. Style. Habit. Individuality. Opinion. Narration.

That was fashion to me.

I looked up and noticed my blonde haired sister walk into the room accompanied by my best friend.

I rolled my head up and asked what their opinions of ‘fashion’ were, dissected in the same manner I had tackled it in. Encouraging them not to hear each other’s answers, over the next two minutes I was subject to witnessing their opinions individually.

My sister, the female voice, said this. “Free, Adventurous, Stylish, Heroic, Individual, Original.” (Then before providing me with her final answer she asked if she could break the rules by using more than one word – I nodded in acceptance to which she continued shyly.) “Not a sheep.”

I revelled in delight at her interpretation.

I patted the sofa I was sat on and waved my other friend over. Explaining the same rules to him, I twisted my hand in such a movement that indicated him to speak.


I looked queerly at him. “Finesse?”

He stared at me coldly. “Yes.”

His look was stern. I decided not to comment.

He continued with his answers. “Anonymous. Style. Historic. Independence.”

It was clear his first answer was given as a response to women, the stereotypical sex associated with fashion, but as he had more time to adjust to the question, his following reactions were much more apparent of his own personality.

“Originality and Needs.”

He stopped.

I looked at his clothes.

And as I visually lapped up the items staring back at me, his ripped jeans embedded with a layer of brick dust and a high vis poking from beneath the safety of his back pocket, I smiled.

Fashion, although we may not initially realise it, means as much to you as it does to me.