Out of fashion doesn’t necessarily have to mean out of style.
There’s a long-standing joke that my father has on all the women in the family. It’s never funny when he says it, but it’s 100% true — we are all victims of the ‘Nothing to Wear Syndrome’.
Think about the number of times you, or somebody you know stood in front of a closet bursting at the seams and complained: “I have nothing to wear!”
Let’s be honest. The statement rings true for many of us, and for several reasons. Sometimes, it’s because we’ve outgrown the clothes we have. The other times, it’s because these clothes have seen better days. Most times, it’s because they’ve gone out of fashion, and we, as ardent followers of trends, feel compelled to keep up. It’s a vicious cycle that urges us to buy clothes that we will only wear a couple of times until new trends emerge and make the ones we own, redundant.
And then, again, we are left with nothing to wear.
The recent success of Instagram and the insider access that the platform has given us users to the traditionally elitist and cliquish world of fashion, is reason enough to believe that our insatiable appetite for fashion trends is rather nascent. Trends are now a lot more accessible — not just in terms of their availability but also their affordability. It’s only a matter of days after a trend is spotted on the runway (and by virtue of live streaming, our smartphones), that its multiple low-cost and quality variations trickle down to the racks of fast fashion stores. There’s also a growing number of smalltime Instagram shops and e-commerce websites that thrive on offering cheap designer knockoffs. For trend-crazy shoppers with budget constraints, this is great news. For creators and the environment at large, not so much.
Fashion trends aren’t born out of thin air. They capture the zeitgeist of an era. The hippie counterculture that emerged in the late ‘60s and gained momentum in the ‘70s gave fashion its cherished bell-bottom jeans and flower power motifs. In the ‘80s, the trend of female power dressing caught on as it became a means for women to assert their authority in professional spaces dominated by men. Creators are constantly influenced by the flow of culture, the state of politics and the general spirit of the prevailing times. These influences translate into creations, and the creations spark trends. It’s an ongoing cycle where past trends are also often seen making comebacks.
In today’s digital age, fashion trends have several reference points ranging from the streets to the screens, and their shelf lives are also much shorter. In an article by W Magazine, Bruce Pask, the men’s fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman attributes the overload of visual information to our “hunger for the new and the next.” If the very nature of trends, especially in current times, is that they are constantly undergoing a change, does that mean our wardrobes need to also change alongside and at the same pace, leaving little or no room for the clothes that we already own?
In a world already facing the brunt of the drastic damage done by the fashion industry, our incessant hunger for current trends might we something we all need to reassess. In doing so, one can experience, what I believe, is the greatest joy fashion can offer — being able to cultivate a style that’s unique and an extension of who you are!
Fashion trends exist for a reason, but by no means should they bind our style choices. Style is instinctive and is driven by personal inspiration. It can’t, and must not be dictated. For someone who loves fashion, the awareness of current trends is a part of their understanding of the direction in which the industry is transitioning. What’s essential is to view trends in perspective without getting obsessive about coveting them.
Having said that, I also do understand that there may be times when you find yourself drawn to a current trend because it defines your aesthetic. What then seems to be the usual course of action for most, as it used to be for the old me, is to turn to fast fashion brands and spend hours scouring websites like Shein in search of that trend. While these options are technically on-trend, they aren’t by any means prudent.
Since fashion trends have a nature of repeating themselves, in times when you have an urge to shop for the season’s trendiest looks, avoid giving into the temptation mindlessly and, instead, look in places people generally wouldn’t — thrift shops, second hand stores or perhaps even your own old wardrobe.
Who knows? You might rediscover a long-forgotten jacket in the shade of Living Coral from several seasons ago that’ll still be very “in” when you wear it today!
Well, even if don’t, you’ll still find something wonderful that makes your style, yours, and not of just another high-street clone’s.