Fresh on the heels of Fashion Weeks internationally, I was inspired to answer a question that I have been asked in the front row as well as backstage. Is fashion related to plastic surgery? Aside from the fact that I am a woman who appreciates fine fashion, as a plastic surgeon, I am considered to be one of many purveyors of beauty. In that sense, as an observer, aesthete, and often supplier of beauty, fashion is very much related to it. Moreover, physical appearance, including grooming, self-care, and manner of dress, is a component of wellness. Therefore, that fashion is also related to wellness is completely feasible—and true! Stay with me and take note.
If it weren’t pretty or beautiful, would you buy it? Beauty is what makes fashion fashionable. If the dress (or the watch, car, or house, etc.) is not beautiful, it does not move us. If we are not moved to feel, we are not moved to purchase. Beauty is emotional, and all that are considered beautiful cause us to feel something deeply. I consider beauty to encompass many facets of our world—nature, the arts, fashion, music, literature, people—all may be categorized under that which may be beautiful. It is beauty—the desire and love of it—that motivate us to behave in certain ways.
Fashion is related to beauty also through how what we wear is expressed, as style. Although the cost of fashion is highly variable, from frugal frocks to luxurious lines, the value of style is priceless. One of my favorite perspectives on style is from an article in Psychology Today (01 July 2005), “The Value of Style.” Some notable excerpts follow:
“Style is the ability to distinctly sort through the maze of things, make a selection, and do so in a way that is in keeping with how we see ourselves. With style, we stamp our personal identity on an arrangement of things. And our closets always seem full of possibilities. … Style is more than mere clothes. … It is self-knowledge and self-confidence expressed through what you choose to wear, a life-affirming expression of your character and spirit.”
Here is where fashion, but particularly style, is also about wellness.
Wellness is defined as a state of successful living, associated with lifestyle, that is the integration of mind, body, and spirit. Therefore, fashion, expressed as style, affirms our wellness since style and wellness both encompass positive expressions of mind, body, and spirit. The aforementioned article continues further to distinguish fashion from style, emphasizing that fashion s fleeting, but that style is forever:
“Fashion is in the clothes. Style is in the wearer. …
Fashion costs. Style is priceless.
Fashion is mindless. Style is intelligent.
Fashion is fascistic. Style is individualistic.
Fashion changes. Style evolves.
Fashion is matter. Style is spirit.
Fashion comes from the outside. Style comes from within.
Fashion is self-conscious. Style is self-assured.
Fashion is literal. Style is original.
Fashion declares. Style insinuates.”
Fashion is object. Style is subject. Fashion may be about the textile, color, shape, or drape. Style speaks more of the designer, stylist, model, and wearer. Despite the distinction between the two, style is what links fashion to beauty, and thus, wellness. Fashion is to style as style is to beauty. One is the expression of the other. So, fashion is a means by which we communicate our beauty and our holistic sense of wellness, i.e., who we are and how we think and feel, to others. What we choose to wear is an external manifestation of our inner world. As our closets seem full of possibilities, so, too, are our lives; and having both an array as well as freedom of choice is always a thing of beauty.