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Can You Be Stylish Without Being Creative?

06/14/2012 01:51 EDT | Updated 08/14/2012 05:12 EDT
Swagger: New York

A friend of mine just showed me Taika Waititi's TED talk from TEDxDOHA and I was really impressed with his perspective on creativity and success. For those of you not familiar with Taika Waititi, he is best known as the director of the films Eagle vs. Shark (2007) and Boy (2010). Perhaps it rings cliché, but it really resonated with me how he described his job as to be creative and to explore ideas from his unique perspective, and that film was merely his tool of the moment -- having been a painter, actor, and a host of other incarnations along the way.

Waititi's notion of success as being communication, and of creativity being linked to seeing things through the lens of a child, his interest in the notion of innocence, and fascination with the outsider all left me wondering how all of this relates to style.

One can most certainly have creativity without style but I believe that the inverse is not true. Surely being attuned to style is directly connected to creativity but only very rarely does it come from the innocent place Taika Waititi was talking about.

The fashion writer Colin McDowell recently said:

I am increasingly of the opinion that style is the manifestation of an original and often transgressive mind, something that can never be learned from the pages of magazines and a million miles away from the copycat approach of 'this season's hottest trend.'

McDowell's viewpoint resonates quite clearly but does this in turn imply that fashion and style are mutually exclusive?

In a world where images pervade our existence with such ubiquity it is hard to envision style being completely devoid of an awareness of the world of fashion. All the more so when the majority of the people upon whom the word style would be endowed are products of exactly the opposite model --those who are constantly consuming fashion images and even contributing to the endless stream of content themselves -- the group to which I admittedly am part.

Is dress a truly viable creative outlet for communication? What can truly be communicated through style and what role does style play in the life of the modern man?

Inevitably for most of us, dressing as a way of life, completely independent of the world of fashion is not a likely scenario; especially for those of us who are genuinely interested in clothing and see dress as an opportunity to be explorative and creative.

Revisiting McDowell's quote leads me to believe that style, while we can agree is not learned from the pages of a fashion magazine, rather inhabits the space between seeing something you identify with and making it your own. Perhaps not quite the innocent outsider perspective Waititi described but rather a sweet spot somewhere between the two.

I'd hate to think of style only belonging to those who were completely unaware of its existence. Perhaps that is style in its truest form, but I think there are some of us out here that are maybe just a little bit stylish too.