Let's Stop Saying ‘Fashionista'

Without a doubt, S.D. is having a coming-of-age when it comes to fresh, unpretentious fashion. But there’s a word — an insidious and increasingly soul-taxing word — that’s invading the lexicon of our local style set, and that threatens to undermine our progress.

You’ll see it splashed onto local party invitations and overused in boutique reviews. If there’s an open bar and a catwalk, there’s a good chance you will hear it slurred. That word is fashionista.

When the term started popping up in the 1990s (see Thing of Beauty: The Tragedy of the Supermodel Gia by Stephen Fried), we admit that there was something seductive about the word’s energetic militancy. But in recent years it’s become so ubiquitous it’s lost all its teeth; its a rare day that we don’t hear the word clarioning forth from a T.J. Maxx commercial or see it employed on behind-the-curve websites. (Notable exception: the superlative fashion news blog of the same name.)

“You can stick '-ista' after any word and make it a trend. Plus, it's so overused that it's reached its saturation point,” says S.D. culture and style writer and Feasterati Meredith Hattam. “Its stagnant sense of ingenuity is exactly what makes it so unappealing, as fashion thrives on reinventing itself.”

Indeed, reinvention is key. We were going to propose a substitute for the word, but another cutesy neologism would only defeat the purpose, so, a modest proposal: when in doubt, just say “fashion person.” It’s evocative in its simplicity, as in: “I’m a fashion person; I may not wear makeup, but I did buy three pairs of clogs last month.”

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