My Fashion Preference Essay

"Fashion is not simply a matter of clothes; fashion is in the air, born upon the wind; one intuits it." That's a quote from Coco Chanel – and it's how not to start a personal statement for a fashion degree.

When applying for a university fashion course, your personal statement won't even be read though if your portfolio is not good enough.

Willie Walters, programme director for fashion at Central St Martins, said the personal statement is "secondary" to portfolio work.

"I don't even read the statements unless the work looks interesting," she says.

Walters advises applicants to make their portfolio work as clear as possible, and to include research and sketchbook work, as well as photographs of design pieces. "We look for originality and something fresh."

When it comes to the written statement, saying you have a "passion for fashion" is an immediate no-no, says Josephine Collins, course leader for fashion journalism at the London College of Fashion.

"It's easy to do and sounds great but we've seen it so many times before," she warns. Similarly, admissions tutors cringe when confronted with yet another tired quote from a fashion icon.

Fashion related courses are notoriously competitive, so avoiding clichés is an important way to make your application stand out, says Andrew Groves, course director for fashion design at the University of Westminster.

"Put yourself in my shoes," says Groves, who reads over 1,000 personal statements each year. "How would you make yours different from all those other applications?"

Although mentioning your favourite designer is a good idea, you should think carefully about who you cite, says Mal Burkinshaw, programme director of fashion at Edinburgh University.

"We always have the same designers quoted. Every now and then someone says they are interested in a more conceptual designer and it makes them stand out. You can tell they are engaging more deeply."

Evidence of engagement with fashion is essential, agree tutors, but make sure you are thinking about it as a serious industry.

"Fashion is the third largest industry in the UK," says Jane Gottelier, programme leader of the fashion department at Falmouth University.

"I steer clear of students who talk mainly about celebrity fashion and TV programmes in their personal statements because it makes me think that they see fashion as something rather fluffy," she says.

As well as explaining why you want to study fashion and listing any relevant work experience, it's also important to show interests outside of fashion, say tutors.

"Some of our fashion courses are really business-orientated," says Liz Barnes, senior lecturer in fashion at Manchester University, "so demonstrating a commercial mind is key."

Outside interests show an engagement with general society that is important for a fashion student, and key to fashion admissions tutors.

It's important to be up to date on current news, to prove an academic interest and to show curiosity about the world and an inquisitive mind. If you have an unusual hobby don't be afraid to mention it as it might help yourself get noticed.

"I've had ice skaters, an Olympic-standard gymnast and stick insect collectors," says Anne Chaisty, principal lecturer in fashion studies at the Arts University Bournemouth.

Fashion may be portrayed as a cut-throat industry, but people who are interested in giving something back interest Chaisty.

"We look for students who want to make a positive difference through what they do as a designer," she says.

Accuracy and a good flow are things all tutors agree on when it comes to a good personal statement, but Barnes says you should also be in tune with the specifics of your course.

"There are lots of courses that are called fashion marketing, for example, but the content of those courses will vary enormously," Barnes explained.

"Understand the course you are applying for and tailor the personal statement to match."

For courses where a portfolio carries a heavier weighting than the personal statement, it is still important to express personality in your written statement.

Tutors say individuality and character are perhaps the most important things to convey.

"Don't contrive something for the sake of it," advises Chaisty, "just be honest, be natural and be yourself."

Just don't quote Coco Chanel.

This article was amended on 19 September to correct an error, changing Willie Walters' job title from course leader to programme director of fashion at Central St Martin's.

Any fashion conscious person knows that apparel speak louder than attitude

But not all of us are fashionistas

Some of us just like to wear whatever the we want

Should we feel bad about that? Just because the rest of the world is practically slaving over fashion trends? No.

I know we've all had those moments when we just get so sick of wearing only what is deemed fashionable by the fashion gods (whoever they are).

And that's okay.

After all, the trend itself was started by people just like us, right? (Well, maybe not like us exactly. But they have blood flowing through their veins and they breath air.)

And if that's not a good enough reason to stop following trends and wear what you deem fit, here are a few more reasons:

1. Trends Don't Last

You know that awkward moment when you buy an outfit that is, in your opinion, very sexy, but then you wear it out and everyone is looking at you with that your-clothes-are-so-last-season look (you know that look), and you start contemplating your whole life, reflecting on all the bad decisions you've made, including the decision to buy an outdated outfit. What was cool last season is, apparently, an abomination this season. Who has time to keep up with all that? (Except super stars who have people working round the clock to make sure they don't accidentally wear one pair of jeans twice.)

2. Fashion Is Not About You

Personally, I love loose-fitting clothes. Can't stay too long in clothes that squeeze the life out of me. But loose clothes make you look like a slob, so I gave them up. If you do a thorough search of your motive for following the trends, you'll find that it has very little to do with your personal comfort or preference, and everything to do with others'.

You dress in a certain kind of way to impress friends, intimidate the competition or endear yourself to the object of your desire.

Which is all well and good until it starts to become a difficult chore. That's when personally I throw my hands up in the air and say, "I'm done. I'm doing me."

3. You Have Your Own Fashion Identity

The trends we're dying to keep up with were all started by someone somehow. And that's their identity. Not necessarily ours. People who copy other people's fashion identity do so probably because they have no identity of their own. None of those trends were written in stone and passed down to us from some ancient ancestors. So who says we have to conform to another person's idea of what is socially acceptable? We can't all be fashion icons, and we shouldn't lose our identity whenever a new style hits the market (or the runway, if you're that rich).

4. The Trends Aren't for Everyone

Perfect example is the once-trending jean shorts. They're really very short right. Extremely, butt-hugging-underpants kind of short. But almost everyone was wearing them (and some people still are). Personally, going out in public wearing what looks like panties made out of jeans that leave my butt cheeks out is not my thing. And just because some hot celebrities are wearing it, it doesn't mean I can pull it of. So, again, I'm doing me.

5. Let's Face It: Most Fashion Designers Are Weird

Don't believe me, just look at models on the runway. The pieces they wear are absolutely ridiculous. (I can't even call them clothes.) They'd make you want to ask yourself, "Who would wear this?"

I'm all for progress but, seriously, what woman would wear a dress that leaves her butt hanging out?

They hardly design anything immediately wearable. At least wait until the clothes have been taken off the runway and distributed to stores in more wearable, in-real-life forms.

6. Getting Dressed Is Easier

... when your closet is filled with clothes you chose for you. Not for the sake of the trendsetters.

7. Fashionable Often Implies Mass Production

How would you like to go out and see several other people wearing an outfit you own? If all the clothe stores are selling only what they deem fashionable, we might all be wearing identical clothes.

The time for fitting in is high school (honestly, I didn't even fit in back then). After that, we should be striving to stand out.

Which brings us to...

8. You Get to Stand Out

By not following trends set by others, you're making your own fashion statement.

At a time when wearing a ring on your pinky was a thing, Cameron Diaz (or was it Kate Hudson?) decided to wear a ring on her thumb instead, and it wound up being a trend. She ended up inventing the thumb ring.

By not conforming to the "in" thing, what you're really doing is creating your own "thing."

9. Trends May Not Make You Happy

If you buy clothes only because they're on trend and not because you like them, they may not make you happy

If you wear what makes you happy, you'll feel good about yourself

If you feel good, ultimately, you'll look a lot better

10. What is in Vogue May Not Always Suit Your Body

After going through old pictures of myself and seeing how unflattering the then "in vogue" styles were on me, I realized that the fact that something is trending is no assurance that everyone would look good in it.

It's better to wear styles that flatter your figure, rather than whatever the fashion gods say you should wear -- this season.

11. You Need Clothes You Can Confidently Wear to Work

As the saying goes "dress for the job you want..."

If you keep wearing what models advertise on the runway, what job are you hoping for? A career in modeling?

Some fashion trends are quite clearly not for anyone who has a real job (or wants a real job).

Not suggesting you wear suits every day of the week. But instead of copying people who wear what's convenient for their lifestyle and work, which may not be convenient for you, stick to what you know

12. You Have to Consider Your Budget

Not everyone can afford to clean out their wardrobe whenever there's a new trend.

Don't feel bad if you can't spend as much as everyone does in the fashion department.

You can't blame yourself for not buying clothes that aren't in your price range .

All fingers aren't, after all, equal.

13. What Goes Around Comes Back Around

Especially in the world of fashion.

So if your favorite type of jeans are no longer in, don't throw them out just yet.

Just wait long enough and they'll come back around again. And then look who's suddenly wearing what's in season.

14. As Fashion Evolves, So Do You

Truth be told, many of the fashion trends these days are for teenage (18-year-old) bodies.

You can't expect a full grown, cellulite-adorned woman to wear high-waisted, butt-bearing jean shorts. That's just cruel. Her butt is where all the cellulite and stretch marks are!

As we get older, we tend to evolve in style and taste and, eventually, we may not be able to stand (or fit into) the clothes we've chattered on account of the fact that they were trending.

15. You Shouldn't Have to Feel Self-Conscious in Your Own Body

Certain fashion trends are meant only for the models and superstars who advertise them -- they have the perfect bodies for it

Take crop tops for instance. Why should you have to wear a top that makes no effort to cover up your protruding belly (if you have a protruding belly)?

It'll just make you less confident about your beautiful body. It's not worth it.

16. You Get to Save Loads of Money

Trending items are a lot more expensive than normal stuff. So if you give yourself a break from buying ridiculously expensive things simply because they're what's en vogue, you're giving yourself the luxury of saving a ton of money.

17. Give Some Consideration to Basic Hygiene

Because some people decided that wearing socks with men's shoes was way too much work, they decided to stop wearing socks.

And some people followed them.

Wearing men shoes without socks? What kind of a disgusting trend is that?

This is a perfectly good reason to stop following trends. They can't even be bothered about hygiene.

Fashion is beautiful. Getting dolled up is nice. But feel free to wear what is right for you, and not just what is socially acceptable

Never feel like you need to become a slave to the trends by investing insanely in clothes that don't really fit you or throwing away good clothes which you like just because they're no longer in.

Don't feel bad that the latest kinds of shorts don't suit you or that you can't afford them

Just enjoy fashion when you can. When it begins to seem like too much work, it's time to leave it well alone.

Follow Queen Ogbaje on Twitter: www.twitter.com/QuinnOJacob

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