It can be annoying when someone copies your signature look – but Alexa Chung has a seriously refreshing approach to fashion copycats.
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, or so the old adage goes. However, it can be hard not to feel irritated with copycats – particularly when it comes to something as personal and creative as our sense of style.
Speaking to stylecaster.com, psychotherapist and author Dr. Robi Ludwig explains: “While it’s flattering to be admired by those we love, being copied can often feel like identity theft. Like the other person is trying to take away or rob us of our uniqueness.
“So, although initially flattering, this compulsion to imitate can feel aggressive… [almost as if] the other person not only wants to imitate you, but replace you, too.”
However, Alexa Chung – who, as something of a fashion icon, has seen her own signature style emulated by countless fans – has learned to remain “optimistic” whenever she spots a style copycat.
“People who are subversive and cool probably all dress the same way, because you’re all trying to kick against the same trend at the same time, which means you’re all on the same trend at the same time,” Chung tells Elle.
“It’s very confusing. You’re all chasing the same look… and I try not to wear what other people are wearing, but that becomes very difficult.
“[Thankfully] I’m quite optimistic when it comes to spotting things I like. I don’t dwell on something that’s the same or whatever. I love that [Chloé horse suit], you love that [Chloé horse suit], we wear it totally differently because we’re vastly different people, and that’s what’s cool about it.”
Chung continues: “But when I look at other people’s outfits, I’m interested in something I haven’t thought of before.
“Like for instance, a girl walked in earlier, and she had black tights on, brown socks, and brown loafers. It looked so sick. I was like, ‘How did I not think of this before? That girl is a f**king legend.’ Socks over your tights, brown socks with matching brown shoes over the black – brilliant.”
It’s definitely a positive and healthy way of looking at things – and one recommended by stylist Naina Singla, too.
Speaking to Bustle, Singla says: “Definitely don’t panic if you show up and someone else has the same outfit — in fact, if nobody says anything I would just ignore and avoid it.
“If you run into the other person wearing it, I would suggest a nice compliment like ‘you have great style!’ or ‘Love your dress.’”
Of course, things are understandably different when it comes to chronic copycats: as Ludwig points out, it can feel like a “betrayal” when someone you know personally copies your look.
The psychotherapist asks us to remember, though, that “when someone copies you, it’s always a form of flattery” and many people “go through phases on the way to developing their own sense of who they are and who they want to be.”
If the copycat phase lasts too long, though, or you feel it’s jeopardising your friendship, then it’s OK to point out your observations to them. Just be aware, says Ludwig, that they may be having a “hard time trusting their own instincts” – so always begin with a calm conversation, making sure to point out what you like about their own personal style, and go from there.
And remember that the aim is to boost their confidence, not put them on the defensive.