Fashion by its very nature is contrived. Tastemakers and peons alike are nothing more than devotees to trends, which themselves are as fleeting as the wind and as artificial as the hair extensions on a size zero model. The haute couture world of Paris runways and New York Fashion Week are certainly at the extreme end of the whimsical world of style, but no individual can completely escape the style of her generation. Fashion affects everyone. Whether you are a fashionista or an intellectual, what you wear says volumes about who you are.
For centuries, fashion trends have been concurrent with the politics of their ages. In light of that fact, hip-hop and urban styles share the same cultural heritage as any countercultural movement in the western world. Even the French revolution had a style that embodied its political manifesto. The sans-culottes of Paris eschewed the whigs and knee breeches of the aristocracy just as much as hip hop fans disdain the preppy style of the bourgeoise.
The youth of today have even generated their own quirky brand of countercultural style with all things hipster. While your run-of-the-mill hipster looks as if he or she is the target market for expensive name brands, the idea behind hipsterism is decidedly antimainstream. Funky glasses, piercings, scarfs, and satchels may seem like just another branch of alternative fashion, but the decision to defy the mainstream is a veritable assertion of self.
If hipster chic is the style of youthful rebellion, preppy fashion may just be the style of the status quo. While its look may always be current, its origin is decidedly square. The 1950s Ivy League fashion of Yalies and Princetonians gave birth to the boat shoes, pastel polos, and argyle sweaters that define the style of the conventional middle class. The timelessly dressy casual style of a prepster fits perfectly with the conservative values that a true prep probably represents.
The next time that you go on a shopping excursion, pay careful attention to your natural fashion tendencies. Maybe you’re a prepster in the making or a hip hop diva waiting to emerge. Either way, there is a tradition and a mentality that is synonymous with your style.