To be the height of fashion, to be a la mode, is to be celebrated for doing, or wearing, the latest thing. Fashion is a business, obviously. It’s trillion-dollar global industry that designs, manufactures, and sells products. But style is something else entirely. 



I’m not saying fashion and style aren’t connected. Just that they are not the same thing.

Many stylish people bow to the gods of materialism – I could list you a fashion editor or six known for wearing the latest things – but it’s not a prerequisite.

These are a few of the things Diana Vreeland thought were stylish: the way a big cat walks, ballet, surfing, Arabian horses, freckles, blue jeans, the idea that “pink is the navy blue of India”… 

To her list, I might add: Vreeland's crazy-expressive hands, a swallow swooping, an old man with a pocket square placed just-so, good manners, grace in defeat, red nails (not chipped ones though), snow falling, Mick Jagger's swivelly hips, Noel Coward's voice, not dropping litter, picking wild flowers...The beat goes on.

A billionaire might buy herself a thoroughbred horse, but not freckles. Not the ocean, or the ability to leap like Nureyev. Not the slinky gait of a jaguar or leopard. She most certainly might buy herself an incredible dress - she might even order one custom-made from Gucci - but the confidence to wear it is not for sale.

As the saying goes, money can’t buy you style.

D.V. also said, “A new dress doesn’t get you anywhere; it’s the life you’re living in the dress, and the sort of life you had lived before, and what you will do in it later.”

My mate Sarah Wilson is anti-fashion, but she has great style. She makes minimalism and eating leftover veggies and not succumbing to the lure of the January sales look good. (She even makes those green shorts I write about in Wardrobe Crisis look good.)

I once bought Sarah a bunch of flowers, which she hated, not that she told me (she’s too stylish for that) but because flowers wrapped in paper from a shop are her idea of wasteful.

Sarah’s not interested in pretty for pretty’s sake. Sarah would rather receive a bunch of beetroots. She’d eat the stalks too.