Comfort Zones and Style

440 440 Velvet

Have you ever wondered what’s your style or what kind of power your image/style exudes on others? Who or what defines one’s style. Lately, questions like these have haunted me. Questions like that and many more have sparked my desire to share my thoughts in this blog. Initially, I began to try to verbalize my thoughts in an effort to answer some of them. Then, I began to wonder some more only to find myself trying to redefine terms well known to me. So, here I go (bear with me for a while, I will get to a concluding point).

Velvet taking a selfie in a mirror.
What’s my style? I’m pretty much into casual dressing with a twist. But when it comes to home decor, I’m still discovering and exploring…

Everyone’s personal style is subconsciously dictated and sometimes, if I may say so, strictly defined by “comfort zone boundaries.” I know I have my own. These are boundaries in which one feels comfortable, serene and secure with an overwhelming sense of familiarity – even affection. Therefore, it is a zone that one knows to manage. And for the most part, these zones are shaped by our upbringing, our family background, our heritage, our ethnic culture and naturally, our biased conceptions.

Yet, for most people these comfort zones are not necessarily very broad. (Think of a person who was born, lived and died in the same village without ever travelling or coming into contact with any foreigners). However getting back to the point I was trying to make, as we age these comfort zones tend to broaden. As such, more often than not a design solution that “stretches” or even redefines those comfort zone boundaries is at risk of falling onto deaf ears. Having said that though, it goes without say, that comfort zones broaden if one keeps their eyes wide open in conjunction with an open mind. Exposure to more objects of art, cultivation of one’s own culture, awareness of other cultures and a tendency to experiment and taste new things surely guarantees stretched comfort zones.

Two mannequins dressed in stylish black and white outfits part of a Hugo Boss shop window.
A Hugo Boss shop window. Many times, quality wardrobe pieces are timeless because they are stylish by definition. They are flattering for most, because of their cut, form, material and all those details that made it stand out in the first place.

In the past decades, fashion trends followed a “linear” evolution from a fashion house to magazine to consumer. Since Instagram came on the scene, this model has undoubtedly changed forever, with influencers sporting street fashion in collaboration with brands. Moreover, there are many more choices available to us, yet many times we shy away from the opportunity to visit a store physically to check the suitability of a product. As a result, we end up amassing with products that many times have little style to begin with.

Some quality wardrobe pieces though, are timeless because they are stylish by definition. They are flattering for most, because of their form, cut, choice of material and all those details that made them stand out in the first place.

That is why it is always worth investing in such pieces that will “build” your style and help you exude a sense of power over others.

How Do Trends Work?

A trend is born as a fad. When one is exposed to a fad over and over again then chances are that one will feel comfortable enough to follow it eventually. This is simply because this sort of exposure makes an imprint on the familiarity chord aforementioned. Should this fad resonate with a bigger audience for a longer span of time, then you got yourself a trend.

But is that trend really a style-setter? A few definitely are. However, most are not and soon after a “x” number of people have “copied” the trend, it simply wears off. The trend loses its appeal and before one knows it, it is simply dated or “out-of-style”!

What happens though to a new, radical idea? How many people are prepared to take a leap and accustom to something new and out-of-the-ordinary? I believe not as many as I could wish for. Styling someone’s business for instance, is crucial for its survival. Competition is fierce and anyone’s and everyone’s business ought to stand out in a unique way – it needs a style (that’s what branding is all about).

As such, designing something radical for a business though, may involve a much greater risk. It may not perform as expected. Hence, not everyone is ready to take the leap when the information at hand is not tangible. After all trend forecasting is a well-educated guess. On the other hand, those who do keep up with trends tend to adapt easier to the ongoing developments of today’s markets.

View of Velvet's legs standing on a rug with different zoning denoted (comfort, fear, learning, growth).
If you manage to take the leap from your comfort zone and into the learning one, then that is when the fun begins. You will start experimenting with colors, styles and basically discover your true liking.

Therefore, should a design solution be radical only for the sake of it? At what cost? What if it sacrifices functionality? I believe not! Any design solution is the outcome of a problem solving procedure and as such, it must not induce any further problems.

A well designed solution/object develops over time. Initially, it is just an idea. Then, one maps it on a piece of paper and it begins to take shape. It evolves. Eventually, it is a drawing of something tangible that must be pleasing to the eye, captivating one’s imagination within one’s comfort zones. The tricky part is to strike a balance between aesthetics and functionality. This is true for both the fashion and interior design industries.

Thus, the way I see it, it makes no real sense to focus on putting together a design scheme with the intent to i.e. stage a home interior for the perfect 30’ photo shoot, unless it’s part of your job description. What’s of importance is the overall aesthetic value of an interior/product/fashion piece, its life-expectancy and functionality. Great design is a long term commitment.

Personally, I take pride in the fact that my home is warm and very livable. I have not compromised functionality over aesthetics on matters that will make my life fussier and more complicated. And I certainly won’t do so for my clients either. Life is too short to add more fussiness and pains. Similarly, I dress to please myself with comfort in mind with pieces that allow me to feel and perform as myself. However, I do set new challenges for myself in order to keep myself in the learning zone.

The point I’m trying to make is: don’t bother to recreate someone’s bedroom setup as shown in home décor magazines. It won’t ever “work” properly for you, unless it was designed for you. Think where you have been and plan where you want to go next. Thus, filter the ongoing trends, especially nowadays in this Internet savvy world of ours. Trust your instinct and listen a little more closely to your inner voice, rather than just “follow” trends.

Adopt and adapt the trends that work for you or better yet, make your very own trends your signature style instead. Do note though that although style is based on instinct, it can still be cultivated. As such it can flourish when you nurture it. (Style vs trends is another interesting discussion I elaborate on this matter).

How Do You Cultivate Your Sense of Style?

By broadening your comfort zones. For instance: take a long walk around your neighborhood. When you return home from work follow a different route – just to explore the possibilities. Take a good look at the buildings, the gardens and the people going by. Go to the nearest museum and then go to the furthest museum. It does not matter what sort of museum it is, as long as you go and absorb new images. Go the nearest park or zoo or beach. Change your routine. Travel as much as possible. Travel is a real eye-opener! Learn of different customs, observed different styles.

Style is primarily a matter of instinct.

-BILL blass (late american fashion designer)

Taking lots of photos really helps too, but do take the time to scrutinize them. Think of composition, framing and depth. Eventually, you’ll get better at it and this can and will enhance your perspective leading to better editing and curating. It will also give you a firm grasp of your personal style which will come in handy when you begin to consider your next new project, e.g. a home improvement undertaking or building a capsule wardrobe.

Suggested read: How to Take Better Pictures with a Smartphone

While snapping a shot with a smartphone of Van Gogh's Sunflowers.
While snapping a shot of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.

There is a whole lot of information that one can gain from looking at a masterpiece like this, e.g. putting together a tone-on-tone synthesis.

Hence, fill your soul with images. Images inspire people. Beauty inspires people. And inspiring imagery is the driving force behind a more creative life and the very foundation of any style. Moreover, if you step in the learning zone every now and then, as opposed to staying put in your comfort zone, you have better chances of fine tuning your true style.

This is the main reason why I founded this blog in this little web space of mine. To share inspiring imagery that will create windows to possibilities, for possibilities are the igniting spark of ideas.

Truly yours,

Velvet signature

Last update: 08/25/20

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