8.12.2006

Trends that aren't fads

I'm sick of hearing how stripes and polkdadots and patent leather and the color gray are "new trends"--they aren't! They've always been around. As far as I'm concerned, certain trends are really elements we've seen before, only repackaged in different ways or made more prominent. I feel sorry for people who slavishly follow fashion magazines and buy whatever touted as the hottest "must-have" doodads of the season in 5 different styles, then promptly toss them out the door at the "end of the season." Such a waste of money.

That said, I have nothing against following trends prudently. As much as I like things that are classic, it's no fun if we wear the same things over and over again. What happens on the catwalks provides inspiration for new ways to work things that we already have. Also, no matter how carefully we consider our purchases, we get tired of some of our old clothes, or things wear out, or we just want some new additions to liven up our wardrobes. Fashion mags and blogs give us guidance on what we can buy to accomplish those objectives. However, I believe in making the most out of what I pay for. I want to make sure that things that I invest more in will last longer, while the cheap thrills will last through at least 5-10 wears. We all know to invest more in the classics, but it's even better if the classic is also trendy, or the trendy item is also classic.

It's not too hard to sort out recurring trends from fads. All you have to do is to think about the last time you've seen the trendy items. Certain things like stripes, polkadots, patent leather, animal prints, and neutral colors are not really new trends, as they're always sold in stores and remain ever popular. Others, like leggings and dresses/skirts with pockets (I've seen plenty of those in thrift stores), come about once a decade. It's obvious that we should go cheap with the latter. Basically, if you haven't seen an item in stores very often, or if it doesn't stay in stores for long, it's probably a fad. Hence, it's always good to apply a "wait and see" approach for really trendy items to get a better estimate on staying power.

After you've identified the recurring trend, think about the colors you like. The popular colors of the stripes, for example, may vary from year to year, but it's the stripes, not the colors, that matter. There's really no need to buy a new striped top every year, so if you're going to buy one, pick a color you've always liked.

Certain recycled trends, such as metallics and patent leather, tend to be quite flashy. If you're comfortable with having a statement piece, a patent shoe/boot/bag may work for you. If you're a bit squeamish, stick with items with patent details or shoes with thin patent straps. If you're in between those two, pick a patent item in a classic cut (come to think of it, picking a classic cut is a good idea for all different kinds of trends, not just the flashy ones). For example, I saw a pair of brown Rampage roundtoe pumps with spectator details--classic with an edge. Too bad they didn't have it in my size--it was either a half size too big or small. Bummers.

Another option is to pick an item in the same family as the current trend. Gold is supposed to be really big, but personally, I find gold to be very tacky. Hence, I opt for silver, bronze, or metallic green--colors I love and in the same family. You can also go with varying degrees of sheen to suit your level of wildness or conservativeness. The added benefit of these modifications is that you'll be with the times but look a little different than all the cookie-cutter fashionistas out there.

I remember how I was in NYC several summers ago with my friend and we saw a display that read "Is Green the New Pink?" in Macy's shoe section. We thought it was really silly, so I asked my friend to take a picture of me (wearing a green dress) standing in front of the sign.


That goes to show you how silly some of these "new" trends are--because they aren't new! Let's just have fun making sense out of them.

3 comments:

BrownEyedGirl said...

I love your post about trends, I often find it very difficult when shopping to buy things that are not trendy but classic because the stores I love (like H&M) are totally trend based!

It's also difficult for me to "reality shop" because I'll see the new "must have item" and instantly be drawn to it. That shows the power of advertisement!

I guess the best thing to do is shop with yourself and your style in mind instead of what is "in style" so that way you can have a classic yet updated wardrobe without being a slave to trends!

Alina said...

I totally agree with you that most of the new trends aren't new at all. Every winter, black (gothic, romantic, victorian...) is back. So is tweed. And gray. And all other "wintery" colors. Deep, dark, warming colors and rich, lush materials. Every winter (fall season) we see these reinvented. But people forget that it's the same thing, and if you buy statement pieces and don't throw them away by the end of the season, you can definitely wear them again next cold season. And then the next one.

Stacie said...

I was in Urban Outfitters this past week and saw a grey, fake leather purse on clearance that reminded me of elephant skin. Hmmmm. My friend was looking at it but decided she didn't like it because the zipper in it was gold and she didn't like how it looked. Also, I was at another friends house on Friday and noticed that her couch was grey. I'm pretty sure it isn't very new. I think grey is always in?