A recent bout of copycat dressing left Sophie White wondering where homage ends and full-on stalking begins, she sought the advice of a professional to navigate her style crisis
I am a great admirer of women. I love the work of great female writers and artists and actors, I also adore when a woman’s style embodies something of her personality and outlook. This is why I occasionally worry about what aspect of my personality my personal brand of style communicates. You see, I am something of a style chameleon. Although chameleon actually sounds too positive a descriptor for what I am. What I am is really closer to a Talented Mr. Ripley type, a cipher who can absorb the style of others in order to reflect themselves back to them, thereby putting them at ease.
They say dress for the job you want and I will admit that prior to important meetings I have occasionally pre-stalked the person I’m meeting with a Google image search to get a handle on how they dress. I will then somewhat tailor my outfit to their style. Okay guys, when written down like that, I admit it does seem creepy. One way (I hasten to add) that I differ from Patricia Highsmith’s sociopathic character is that mostly I am not doing it consciously. It initially crept in without my noticing. And it’s not all my fault, as with everything these days at least some of the blame can be laid at the door of social media. I see what everyone's wearing, I somehow lose sight of what it is I like to wear and find myself by osmosis suddenly, inexplicably hankering after a Gucci belt or some such.
Before, when shopping I would often buy with certain inspirations in mind. Maybe I liked a certain brand’s Summer campaign or a photoshoot with an actress in Vanity Fair or how the lead in a new movie dressed and armed with a mental tear-sheet of the look, I would go forth and emulate. However, since I now spend the majority of my time watching non-celebrities on Instagram, I find myself stalking the style of people close to me. This has become something of a problem, you see when you start copying a person you know in real life, it soon becomes a bit Single White Female-ish.
I first did it to an old boss of mine in spectacularly obvious fashion. I cut my hair into a blond bob (just like hers), I bought the same handbag as her and I soon noticed that anytime I admired any of her clothes she would be noticeably slow on volunteering where she’d made the purchase. Like any predator when the food source dries up, I moved on to greener pastures aka people who didn’t know about my propensity for icky, 5th class style copying. I would immediately begin leeching their style vibe like some parasitic twin, until just as in Single White Female, I’d end up looking more like them than they did.
I think part of my problem is that I have lost sight of what my own style even is anymore. I sense this might be an age-related issue. I’m 31 years old and while I have all the things suggestive of adulthood – debts, a home, two kids, a weak pelvic floor – I feel like I am straddling the world of Forever 21 and Max Mara. Some days I’m happy out in my best Liam Gallagher in the late 90s impression while on other days I’m feeling vaguely like an impostor who’s pretending to be 25 still. I’m clearly in a style limbo.
I asked stylist, personal shopper and broadcaster, Lorna Weightman if this is common among her clients.