A longtime fashion columnist gets a new identity

Fifteen years ago, when I became the Inquirer’s fashion columnist, the industry was just so different. Designer brands were everything. New York Fashion Week was held at Bryant Park (fun times!), and only industry insiders and A-listers went. And — gasp — there was no such thing as Instagram or Facebook.

But at the risk of sounding too much like my idol, Oprah Winfrey, the only thing certain in today’s millennial pink-hued world is change. Certain changes — like the rapid advancement of social media and the fallout from the economic recession of 2007 — hit the fashion industry like a wallop from a Swarovski crystal sledgehammer.

Any armchair fashionista can go to Fashion Week by simply logging on to Snapchat. Sustainable apparel, preferably those brands made in the America, replace conspicuous designer labels as the new luxury.  And we’d rather click our way to retail destinations than drive to them.

That’s not all.

We’ve become more mindful.

Comfort consistently beats out the chic.

Plus-size won’t be ignored.

Boys wear makeup.

Individuality drives fashion expectations.

So I, too, must evolve.

And to better capture the shift in how we both style and live our lives,  I am now the Inquirer’s lifestyle columnist.

That doesn’t mean when fashion is being discussed — like the symbolism of Colin Kaepernick’s Afro or the happenings on the Academy Award red carpet, I won’t talk about it. And trust, I’ll still give you the 411 on the latest trends. So, yes, I will still answer the question “Would Elizabeth wear it?”

But during the week, I’ll answer the question would I eat it, watch it, drink it, buy it, play with it, and — most important — try it.

This column will be an expansion of my voice. It will include new experiences. I tried cryotherapy — exposing the body to subzero temperatures — and I’ll tell you about those chilling three minutes.

I will share personal stories like I did when I recently wrote a column about a road trip with my dad. There will be pop-culture musings similar to my recent thoughts on the summer blockbuster Girls Trip.  I may tell the occasional relationship story. (I’m considering getting back on Match.com).

And I want to tell your stories, too. How are you creating, designing, enjoying, and living your life?

I’m fascinated by a movement toward all things mindful and spiritual that is more rooted in lifestyle than religion.  How is this playing a role in our daily lives, or is it just a marketing ploy? I’m somewhat intrigued about all of these boutique fitness studios popping up, like Pure Barre, SoulCycle, and SLT.  How did we get to the point where we are paying upward of $30 per class when 15 years ago, a gym membership didn’t cost all that much more per month? I’m sure it has to do with the fact they sell super-cute athleisure — a category of clothing that didn’t even exist 15 years ago — there. Where is the best place to buy a green smoothie? (I will eventually find this out.) Why do so many of us enjoy a cocktail with friends after a rigorous workout?

And how do we — moms and daughters, dads and sons, students and working folk, BFFs and frenemies — work the new things we want to do and try into the lives we have now? How do we cope when the scrolling gets to be too much?

I must admit this new role gives me pause. It’s not going to be easy to share more of myself. And, truthfully, I’ve defined myself as a fashion journalist. As September nears, I’m particularly nervous. Normally, I’d be preparing to attend New York Fashion Week’s spring collections. (Although it looks like I’m not the only one planning to watch the shows online this year; several New York designers have defected to Paris. See: more change.)

But it also frees up the space to tell other stories that will matter more to you.

I’m excited.

Please continue with me on this stylishly fun journey.