F ashion style defines and groups people together to form a distinctive culture. Fashion style has the ability to drive social change, represent a community, and deepen the connection and attachment to the land and people residing there. Walking downtown through the wide streets and sounds of construction of the next nine-story high rise. Vans and leather shoes pollute the sidewalks. Skaters in their wide-legged slacks and off-tone t-shirts. What does San Jose style look like? Does it look like anything? We live in a melting pot, “American Culture,” but many American cities have distinctive looks to how their citizens dress, so why not us?
Defining a fashion style of a specific area can be a challenge. Since the start of the internet, people have been influenced by each other from all parts of the planet. Although this plays a factor, I still believe San Jose has the potential to have its own unique style. So I set out into the community to see what others had to say about it and what I found was fascinating. Let’s begin by thinking about why fashion style is essential.
“I don’t feel a cohesive fashion community here in San Jose” -Araceli Vizcaino
What we choose to wear every day says something about ourselves to the world. It tells our story in an abstract way that provokes identity. “You don’t have to tell people who you are. Someone could look at you and tell which community you’re part of,” says Araceli Vizcaino, owner of Thrill of the Luxe, a vintage shop here in San Jose. We make quick observations about others around us, and what that person is wearing plays a significant factor if we deem them “okay” to be around or not. Because our fashion tells a lot about who we are. “Throughout history, fashion has been a way to identify people according to class, occupation, region, etc., but today it’s mostly used to define subcultures. Especially since our society is moving towards individuality,” says Fashion Psychologist Carolyn Mair.
Fashion style has the ability to bring people together. Have you ever been on the street, and someone walks past you, and you have to take a second look and yell out that their outfit is “hella” nice, and it’s a whole interaction? If not, go outside in a kickass fit and see if anyone responds to you. It’s such an inclusive experience. “That’s how the vintage community is. It’s very much about who’s wearing the coolest t-shirt or even the coolest outfit. I think that is the unifying force of the community. Then you start connecting with people, saying that you like someone’s t-shirt and where did you get it? And from that interaction, relationships and communities start to really blossom from that,” exclaims Araceli.
“Fashion echoes the depth of human self-awareness,” muses Carolyn Mair. Sometimes it’s tough to wear what we want to wear because of the responses we might get from others. I have walked around in a “fit” that was a bit wild, but I was feeling it, even though I had people respond to me negatively. This behavior is partly conducive to why some of us don’t want to authentically express who we are and how we want to dress. This can have a pessimistic effect on whether we choose to wear sparkly orange shoes or dull gray sneakers. Can we declare right now to keep an approachable mindset so that we can create a safe space for our community to express and showcase who they are? Allow others and yourself to feel excited about dressing up and contributing to the vibrant culture we have here in the South Bay Area.
Defining fashion is a slippery journey. There are so many different outlets that influence our sense of style—delivering a melting pot of ideas and concepts.
What has stood out over the decades and in the conversations I’ve had with some local fashionistas is baggy clothes with a vintage feel. In my next post, I will define what San Jose’s fashion style looks and feels like. Please respond below and let me know your thoughts about how we can create a safe space to express ourselves through what we wear entirely.
Share a time when you wore something you felt great in and how it made you feel and how others responded to you.
Check out the latest posts from @peter_salcido, who is on a mission to bring people together through the power and influence of personal style.
We see what @thrilloftheLuxe has to say about the importance of what we wear.