Dressing Like You're Already Famous

By Delaney Moore '20

Op-Ed: February 2019 Issue 

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       FASHION, aka a 7-letter word representing a creative medium in which celebrities directly influence the choices of the general public. Throughout the years, fashion has been a persistent and ever-changing industry that is intertwined with monumental pop culture turning points.

       The little black dress was popularized in the forties, poodle skirts in the fifties, pillbox hats and oversized sunglasses in the sixties, corduroy and hot pants in the seventies, scrunchies and leg warmers in the eighties, denim overalls in the nineties, and bodycon dresses as well as sheer tops and neutrals in 00s.

       Many of these trends are well known and still are popularly worn today, but one thing you might not have known is that all of these trends were popularized by a style icon of that time period. For example, the little black dress was made famous by actress Audrey Hepburn, and pillbox hats and oversize sunglasses were trends set by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, while bodycon dresses and neutrals were popularized by the Kardashians.

      One positive aspect of having celebrity style icons is that they often revolutionize an aspect of the fashion industry, or they become historical style figures that many designers and people look up to.       According to an article published by Forbes magazine, “the industry would not be where it is today without the help of influential fashion icons. Nowadays, celebrities are able to take pictures of their outfit and share it with friends, family, and fans on social media. However, many of the women who invented these iconic styles didn’t have the same influential opportunities, so the fact that we still consider them fashion icons means they must have known what they were doing.”

       In our current age, social media has essentially revolutionized the ways style icons have been able to influence fashion due to not only to the wide reach of the platform but also the introduction of online advertisements and endorsements that often connect with a fashion item a celebrity is plugging. Celebrities such as the Kardashians have revolutionized style with simply an Instagram post.

       According to an article published by The List, “On Instagram alone, they (the Kardashians) have over 380 million followers between the five sisters, all of whom are waiting to catch on to the next big trend. Fashion designers have taken notice, too. Even if they're not walking the runway, the sisters are consistently front-and-center during Fashion Week, close with huge designers like Marc Jacobs, and even own their own clothing and makeup lines. Like it or not, the Kardashians are a modern day fashion dynasty.”

       In addition to celebrities like the Kardashians, fashion trends have often been set by an event that took place in the respective time period. For example, WWI veterans influenced fashion due to the popularization of khaki pants, according to an article by Complex.com, “Thanks to the G.I. Bill, many young men came home from the war and went off to college. The twill trousers they wore on the field looked nice enough for the academic world, so they decided to start wearing them on campus. Soon enough, khaki pants became an acceptable casual staple for guys everywhere.”

      Other celebrities have also influenced fashion such as the Royals. Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton and her sister in law Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle have both been called style icons due to their often polished and regal looks while in public. Both royals have worn many different designers’ pieces such as Victoria Beckham’s dresses or Sarah Burton’s designs at Alexander McQueen.

      While there are the positives of having celebrities be at the forefront of the high-end fashion industry there are negative aspects to celebrity trendsetters. Firstly, according to an article published by The List, “the inside world of the high fashion industry is loaded with misleading prices and secret practices. From environmental concerns to reverse photoshopping, there is a lot going on behind the scenes.” These celebrity trendsetters are indirectly supporting the “shady” high fashion industry by wearing or popularizing clothes that were designed under these secret conditions.

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       Also, having celebrity icons can set unrealistic body and financial expectations for fans. Take the Kardashians for example. The Kardashians plug numerous amounts of fashion items on social media, which causes fans to want to go out and buy those items; however, the truth is that not everyone is able to wear the kind of clothes the Kardashians wear because they either do not have the ideal body shape to wear the clothing or they don’t have the financial stability to spend thousands of dollars on one item.

      Models such as Ashley Graham and Naomi Campbell have come to the forefront of the fashion industry as part of a push for increased representation on social media -- a broader range of skin tones, body types, genders, and ethnicities. Not only does this more accurately represent the American population, but it also can provide role models for children and teenagers who are looking for affirmation of their beauty.