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Fashion doesn’t have to be all about the flashy runway. There’s a difference between fashion and style, though the two terms tend to get mixed up in everyday conversation. It comes down to personal expression — how do you present yourself to others? It’s not so much about showing off as it is about framing your personality, and why wouldn’t you want to present yourself in a fitting way?
I confess that I despised anything related to fashion for the first 24 years of my life, but my attitude changed when I looked a bit deeper into it. Now, I dress in a way that complements who I am and I have more confidence. What about you? Sure, a book shouldn’t be judged by its cover, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for beautiful covers.
Whether you’re a style aficionado or a style novice, you may be interested in the following online fashion communities. They’ll help you to learn the basics of fashion, to see how other people choose to dress, and to develop a personal sense of style that’ll enhance you as a person. Be sure to check out these men’s style blogs and women’s style blogs, too.
Ask Andy About Clothes [Men]
Ask Andy About Clothes is a website/forum led by Andy Gilchrist, who is extremely passionate about men’s style and desires to teach others about the fundamentals of style. He’s well-respected and has been published in Men’s Health, Money, Forbes, GQ, and even the Wall Street Journal. If those credentials aren’t good enough for you, I don’t know what more you’d expect.
Andy’s website is a great resource for newbies to men’s style. Under the Apparel section, you’ll find tips for style basics as well as pointers for what to wear in which circumstances. He has a column called Andy Answers where users can submit style questions to him for his thoughts. Plus, he writes Product Reviews so you can know whether or not something is worth its price.
But the best part is the forum, where users can discuss men’s style together. Ask questions related to style, have users critique your outfits and purchases, and even find incredible deals when items go on sale.
Styleforum labels itself as the “premier online community for men’s style,” which is a lofty claim to make but there are few who would rebut it. It’s true that every style community has their own biases regarding which styles they favor, but Styleforum covers a lot of ground, including classic, denim, streetwear, and more. Plus, it’s one of the largest style boards on the Internet.
Despite the name, Styleforum is more than just a forum. Yes, you’ll find a lot of discussions going on related to style, including newbie questions, fit checks, style critiques, inspirational galleries, and more, but there are some other great aspects of Styleforum. For example, the marketplace where users can buy/sell/trade articles with each other.
My personal experience is that the Styleforum community isn’t the most mature bunch — which is to be expected when the community grows to be as large as it is — but there are worse places to be, so if you can put up with it, this is a great place to frequent.
/r/malefashionadvice & /r/femalefashionadvice [Men & Women]
One of the best reasons to use Reddit is that users can create and lead their own subreddits, which are basically like their own insular communities. People have created some wonderful subreddits over the years, including Male Fashion Advice (MFA) and Female Fashion Advice (FFA), the former having proven itself as extremely useful.
At their core, these two subreddits are all about giving advice to style newbies. If you’re 30 years old and still rocking hoodies and baggy jeans and you’re happy with yourself, then by all means continue, but if you want to kick it up a few notches, these two subreddits will get you started with the basics right away.
You’ll find a lot of cool variety here. There are What Are You Wearing Today (WAYWT) threads where people can post their outfits and receive critiques. There are Fit Checks where newbies can post new articles to see if they fit properly. There are inspirational threads to show you what’s out there in the world of style and how you can continually evolve your wardrobe. Lots to learn, lots to enjoy.
The Fashion Spot [Women]
The Fashion Spot is a huge style forum aimed at women who want to discuss all things related to female fashion, including design, models, trends, celebrities, cosmetics, and shopping. I don’t frequent this community so I can’t tell you what the community is like, but even a quick glance will tell you that this is a wonderful online resource.
The main website has sections for fashion trends, tips, and styles found on the streets. There are articles meant to guide you through the relevant season’s styling options, whether it’s Spring/Summer or Fall/Winter. There are Looks of the Day to give you inspiration and there are celebrity photos to give you styling ideas.
The forums are active and cover a lot of ground. Discuss designer fashion or personal style, whichever you’re more interested in. There are forum sections for discussing accessories and shoes, product reviews, personal critiques, and more. It’s not the only female fashion forum on the Internet, but it sure is one of the largest.
LookBook [Men & Women]
For those of you who already have a strong sense of style and are more interested in experimentation than learning the fundamentals, LookBook is the place to be. It’s a social network for style enthusiasts, allowing users to upload photos of their outfits for others to vote on and comment on.
Have you ever browsed through the clothing catalogue for a particular brand and found models wearing full outfits? Those photos make up the “look book,” which is a quick glance at what sorts of outfits are possible in that brand’s particular style. LookBook is based on that idea: other people post up complete outfits which you can study and incorporate into your own wardrobe.
LookBook is an international entity, stretching from North America to Southeast Asia. You’ll find tons of different styles represented here, including European, workwear, hipster, street, scene, and more.
Polyvore [Men & Women]
Polyvore, like LookBook, is a social network that offers a place for users to create complete outfits. The website has grown into such a powerful force in recent years that it has a real influence on fashion trends and stylistic changes in society. While Polyvore is popular for its fashion, it can be used for cosmetics and interior decorating as well.
How does it work? Basically, people post up photos of outfits, whether piece by piece or as a complete set on a model, with shopping links to each of the pieces. Users can vote on and comment on these posts, but the best part is that if you want to purchase the pieces, the links are right there. It’s a shopaholic’s dream come true.
In true social network fashion, you can follow users who frequently post outfits and ideas that you love. The community is so large that the ideas never stop, so beware that you don’t get too addicted.
Again, don’t confuse style with all of the glamorous fashion you might see on TV. Not everything in the fashion world is avant garde and experimental. There are tried and true style basics that don’t even require much work, yet can propel you into new levels of self-confidence and self-expression. These communities will help you get there.
For those of you passionate about style, what other online communities do you frequent? Which ones have you found useful? Which ones haven’t made the fashion cut? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!
Image Credit: LookBook