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What is a Fashionista?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 06, 2024
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A fashionista is someone who follows fashion, or is involved in the fashion industry. This term is sometimes used in a mildly deprecating way, suggesting that fashionistas are obsessed with fashion at the cost of other issues of importance. As a general rule, however, fashionistas are not offended when people call them such, and many use the term in self reference, like a badge of pride. This term often crops up in trend-setting magazines, for example, and it also appears in books and news articles as well as radio and television coverage of fashion.

This word appears to have originated in the early 1990s, and it spread quickly in the late 1990s. It integrates the Spanish suffix “-ista,” which suggests that it may come from a region like California, Texas, New Mexico, or Arizona, where Spanish often mingles with English in surprising and creative ways. The “-ista” suffix is also used in some other slang terms, either because people have borrowed it from “fashionista” or because they are familiar with the Spanish language.

In the sense of a consumer, a fashionista tends to follow fashion avidly, and he or she dresses well, keeping up with the latest fashions to ensure a reputation for being stylish and well turned-out. In addition to actively buying fashionable garments, a fashionista keeps an eye on cultural trends, attends fashion events, and reads fashion magazines. While they may be criticized as shallow, fashionistas aren't necessarily one-dimensional people with a single-minded fixation on fashion. In fact, fashionistas sometimes lead movements to push for fair trade garments and the abolition of child labor in the garment industry, or engage in other socially and politically aware activities.

This term can also be used to reference people in the industry, such as buyers, designers, and so forth. Fashion buyers often have a huge impact on the fashion industry, because they determine which stores carry which collections, and which items go on to become popular. Becoming a fashion buyer requires a formidable knowledge of fashion, trends, and the industry.

A number of derivations of the classic fashionista can be found. A recessionista, for example, is someone who tries to dress fashionably on a limited budget, using creative means to remain stylish in the face of adversity. Some fat activists use the term “fatshionista” to describe overweight individuals who dress stylishly and promote plus-size fashions. Many fatshionistas try to act as ambassadors for the plus-sized community, showing people that being overweight doesn't preclude stylish looks.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a PublicPeople researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By popcorn — On Jun 27, 2011

If you have been labeled a fashionista it isn't necessarily a bad thing. Having a great eye for clothes and being knowledgeable about the latest fashions can get you good jobs in retail management, and if you are a skilled artist, you could even move on to designing your own clothing.

For some, fashionista blogging has become a great way to share their passion for fashion with others and all while helping people to make good style choices. With so many television shows on makeovers and wardrobe malfunction having more fashionistas around can really help people in the long run.

By manykitties2 — On Jun 25, 2011

Being a fashionista is a huge part of a lot of women's identities. With the importance everyone puts on appearance it is no wonder that some feel they must look their best and go after the hottest fashions, no matter what the cost.

I had a good friend in college who was a complete fashionista and she spent so much time shopping and arranging outfits that it amazed me that she managed to complete all of her homework. She always looked amazing and was able to help others with their style choices, but she really did liken it to having a part-time job.

By surfNturf — On Jun 25, 2011

@Latte31 - I totally agree. There are a lot of upscale consignment shops that sell top designer clothing for a fraction of their original cost. I love shopping like this because it feels like a treasure hunt. I also shop at outlet malls and sometimes you do get lucky.

I found a store that was selling Joan and David shoes for $30 because they were liquidating their selection. It was awesome. Deals like this don’t happen often, but when they do you feel like you hit the jackpot.

By Moldova — On Jun 24, 2011

@Latte31 - I saw that movie and it was funny. I wanted to say that I love fashion too, but I think that it makes more sense to be a frugal fashionista because a lot of high fashion looks can be easily duplicated for a lot less.

What I like to do is pull out pictures of outfits that I like in magazines and then try to find the same look for less. You would be surprised at how easy and fun this is to do. People are always telling me that I have a great sense of style and they love what I have on, but really my looks were copied from a magazine.

I just can’t see spending $300 for a pair of pants when I can find something similar for $50. Fashionistas think that everyone is looking at which designers they are wearing, but in reality people look at how the entire look is put together and how well the outfit fits you. I think that the way a garment fits really determines how attractive it will look on you.

All you have to do is pick up a few fashion magazines and you will see what the popular fashion trends are. I always try to follow fashion industry news which will also offers insight as to what colors and trends will be popular for the upcoming season.

By latte31 — On Jun 24, 2011

Whenever I think of what it is to be a fashionista I always think of the movie, “Confessions of a Shopaholic”. The main character was obsessed with fashion to the point that it brought her financial ruin and bill collectors were chasing her. She would see a $200 scarf and although she did not have penny to her name,she would have to buy the scarf with two credit cards. The movie was really funny.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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