What is Style?

I have gone over this topic so many times that I don't think I can even count them on my fingers and toes anymore but today I wanted to explore the meaning of style in a slighting different context. There is style that you can have in terms of your clothing but there is also style in terms of artistic styles i.e. Fauves, Impressionism, Baroque, Surrealism and so forth. What is the difference between these two meanings of style or is there one? 

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary style is "a particular manner or technique by which something is done, created, or performed".  As I was reading one of my many research books for my thesis I came across this quote from Rita Gilbert in Living in Art describing style as "a characteristic or group of characteristics that we can identify as constant, recurring, or coherent....artistic style is the sum of constant, recurring or coherent traits identified with a certain individual or group.” 

The further forward that I am moving in my program at art school I am questioned more and more about what makes fashion art. Despite the fact that I never even mention fashion in my artist statement they always relate my work back to it but to clarify with you all here I am not invested in fashion, although I do want to make my living in its' industry I am more concerned with what style is. I think that without style there wouldn't be a fashion or art industry. I feel like style in fashion and art is the same thing just in different mediums whether that be painting, sculpting, drawing or clothing. Both industries are creating something that we hope to beautify and enrich our lives and express our deepest inner thoughts and emotions. 

So the big question that all this huffing and puffing I have been dealing with in art school and seen quite a number of people debating in blog forums is is fashion art? Personally I feel that that question is worded incorrectly. What should really be asked is is clothing art? Fashion is an industry that umbrellas seamstresses, technologically advanced clothing (see Hussien Chalayan), clothing as sculpture (see Viktor & Rolf), designers as artists and not just trend manufacturer's, and the enigma of style. 

Is fashion art? On the business side of things yes because they are both industries making a profit off of the exploitation of human vanity. Is clothing art? It can be but as we all know not all clothing is a piece of art just as all paintings and sculptures are not a piece of art just because they are in a-typical fine art mediums. Lastly, is style art? A million times yes. What is art without style and what is fashion without it? However not every artist has style just as not every person that works in the fashion industry has style and sometimes you will find people who don't even work in a creative field and do have style. So how do you get it, where does it come from and what does it mean? These are all questions that I am constantly exploring but am not sure there will ever be a definitive answer to. I'm not sure we really want to find a definitive answer to it either because then where is the magic of it all? None the less I will continue to ponder these things on the blog and hope to hear other's opinions on the subject. 

Background image by Jenny Woods