What Price Conformity? Style Edition

Conformity has value, for sure. We want and need to fit in with our fellow humans. It’s coded in our DNA. The worst punishment in some cultures was and still is banishment from the community. Not belonging feels bad.

The reward for conformity is that everyone likes you—except yourself. — contemporary author Rita Mae Brown

But if you’re in the mood for self-examination (I always am, it’s the curse of the trade), ask yourself why in any given instance, you have the urge to conform. There are valid reasons, naturally, like in the Army you have to wear the uniform! But investigate your perceived need to conform blindly, versus making a different, more personal choice. Here’s where fashion and style come in. It seems we now have more fashion choices than ever, and yet it’s still seductive to follow the crowd.

A man [or woman] must consider what a rich realm he abdicates when he becomes a conformist. — Ralph Waldo Emerson (addition is mine)

My own style guideline is to conform when it makes good sense (dressing conservatively at a funeral, wearing enough clothing to be warm). And I can choose not to conform because I love a different look, and I don’t mind if other people don’t. That last part is the key, to have faith that you’re dressing yourself the way you want to, and not the way the trends/blogs/magazines try to drive you.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. — Mark Twain

Here are a couple of examples of beautiful individuality, culled from the women of Visible Monday:

Gorgeous Elle of The Elle Diaries chose to wear her sparkle dress on a “normal” day. She says, “I found this perfect, short sleeve dress that fits better than any dress I have ever worn, and I love the shimmer. I could not wait to share it.  Lets add some sparkle to this new week!”

The red coat and shoes are pretty sensational too.

Tiina of Elegance Revisited shows her individuality with a vibrant Custo Barcelona Les Mis tee and a textured teal skirt. Lovely and a definite choice to not-conform.

I need this tee – does that mean I’m conforming? : >

Question authority, fly your flag, and stay fabulous, xo,

Here’s some cool non-traditional pieces to play with:

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  1. When I was a little girl I desperately wanted to be accepted by my peers, but I was a shy, book and movie loving, physically uncoordinated, oddball so it didn’t happen. Now I am quite happy being a grown up, less shy, still book-and-movie-loving, oddball.

  2. What a fascinating toast topic Patti!
    I wonder if women have a stronger sense to conform , as perhaps we experience shame more acutely ?
    Thank you for the shout out my friend. That was kind indeed. I do feel that one of the benefits of aging is that most of us feel more confident in who we are and what makes us happy. Style then becomes a wonderful vehicle to explore and celebrate that sense of self !

  3. You’ve summed up a lot of my thoughts on this issue, Patti. It sometimes takes guts to be a non-conformist because there can be fear as well as reward felt by the person leaving the group AND the group that “loses” the person also, I think, fears that they are splintering and others will leave – that’s when you get a crack-down. Of course standing apart makes one an easier target of bullying. But of course that never happens, does it? Heh.

  4. Here’s to non-conformity! I’ve always needed to be noticed, and my mom always encouraged me to change it up every day when I was young – she raised a stylish non-conformist!

    Lovely examples, here, Patti!

  5. It seems that the older I get, the less I want to conform, having finally gained enough confidence to dress just the way I like it. Before, I had it all worked out in my head, but always returned to safety when push came to shove. Can’t get over Elle’s dress! xxx

    • I know, isn’t that dress yummy? You’re so right about gaining confidence in our choices as we age. xox

  6. We dress to conform ourselves with different tribes. Even the non-conformists are allying themselves with other non-conformists. Our clothes transmit messages about us–our tastes, our priorities (even when clothes are not a priority–that’s also a message). The question might be whether we are being true to ourselves when we are choosing our messages to the world, and whether our choices make us happy

    • So true – there’s nothing new under the sun that hasn’t been tried! As you say, being true to ourselves, and happy about it, that’s the heart of the matter. xox

    • Great question, and probably the answer is a combination of nature and nurture. You were young when you started non-conforming, that’s a great start to living your own life. xox

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