Saturday 1 October 2016

Tanya Sweeney: Why copying a celebrity's style is opposite of chic

'Frankly, anyone over 21 paying out good money to see Kim's app features is demented'

Tanya Sweeney

Published 02/06/2016 | 14:44

Kim Kardashian
Kim Kardashian

Clearly, I'm in the wrong job. Last week, at a conference, the rate card of a typical Irish style/lifestyle blogger was revealed.

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To get a social media mention, advertisers had to pay around €450. Some, meanwhile, can make thousands from a single Instagram post. No typing, transcribing, research or writing needed. Man, was the Luddite in me ever depressed reading that.

Suzanne Jackson, of SoSueMe, has noted that a review of a product on her blog can lead to it going out of stock straight away. Many other bloggers have attested that just mentioning a necklace or scarf will lead to an online frenzy. It's mesmerising and terrifying in equal measure.

It led me on a train of thought that brought me, of all places, right across to Kensington Palace.

Tanya Sweeney: Anti-depressants have probably saved my life.
Tanya Sweeney: Anti-depressants have probably saved my life.

We've all heard of the 'Kate effect' - the woman is snapped in a certain dress (often looking like a grandmother on her way to a Sunday church bake sale) and hours later, the thing is nowhere to be found, spirited away to closets from Sheffield to Colchester.

The makers of Princess Charlotte's Silver Cross pram were 'inundated' with calls after her christening ceremony. Kids' clothes shops can't keep cardigans and shorts on the shelves, thanks to Prince George's…eh, 'timeless' look.

Millions of people have bought Kim Kardashian's app and continue to pay to access her make-up tutorials, selfies and the like. The app alone is said to have made Kim $72m last year. Frankly, anyone over 21 paying out good money to see Kim's app features is demented.

Closer to home, shoppers were so in thrall to Amy Huberman's Lennon Courtney jumpsuit that there were actual fisticuffs in branches of Dunnes stores over the garment. We've officially reached Peak Steal her Style.

It's easy to see why we fall fast and hard for celebrity style.

How beautiful and alluring they look, bathed in the megawatt glare of their own fame. They are the perfect walking advertisers for any product.

I can tell why celebrities make great clotheshorses and provide no end of fashion inspo: they are lithe, lean, tanned and often have the requisite hair, make-up and accessories to make the entire ensemble gleam.

Things get a little sticky when regular people clamour to resemble these stars.

People, it's a fool's errand. It's impossible to replicate the reassuringly, carefully choreographed celebrity look in a three-bed semi in Ongar.

What's more, running out and buying a statement white jumpsuit just because Amy Huberman has one is a vastly unimaginative move.

Copying a celebrity's personal style doesn't make you chic; it makes you the polar opposite of what chic is.

It reeks of try-hard. Buying a face cream because a blogger has given it two thumbs up? Ditto. There's no room for personal touches, or experimentation. And surely that's the whole point of style? Celebs are in thrall to style trends: it's their job. But these trends are seasonal; often already on the way out by the time the imitations hit the high street.

Don't get me wrong; I've doffed my cap to celebrity style in the past; often with hilarious results.

The Spice Girls' Buffalo platform wedges? Check. Courtney Love's early 90s peroxide hair and babydoll dresses? Double-check.

Looking back, I fear I may have looked a holy mess.

But I was young and foolish. I like to think I've learned a thing or two since then.

And then there are the times when I know I haven't.

Cue the dreamy music as we travel back in time, all the way to 2010. You may recall that Lana Del Rey had, seemingly out of nowhere, plucked the humble rose crown out of fashion obscurity. She wore it well, with aplomb and sexy insouciance. It was all part of a carefully stylised look that many have tried to copy since, with nowhere near as much élan.

Around that time, I found myself trying one on in a Sydney flea market.

I looked for all the world, like a wheelie bin with flowers on it, mainly because I am not Lana Del Rey.

I returned the rose crown to the table, concluding that no self-respecting 30-something should even think of buying one. Alas, I was in a minority.

Five years later, you can't move for them at music festivals.

HD Brows, gladiator sandals, Kate Middleton's Orla Kiely dresses - this is not style. No truly stylish person ever went head to head over a white jumpsuit in Dunnes and said, 'Amy wore this… I HAVE to have it!'.

The truly stylish take a quirk they've seen - on a celebrity, in a magazine, on the catwalk, from the street - and they give it a twist that's entirely theirs.

They dress to suit their shape and lifestyle… not because Kim Kardashian looked really nice in it.

'Trusting' the fashion or beauty recommendations of a blogger (a blogger, incidentally, who may be paid, or at least palmed with freebies, to do said recommending), is best left to basic bitches.

According to TS Eliot, talent imitates and genius steals. The truly smart know to plough their own furrow. Kim Kardashian be damned.

Herald

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