Magazines shout to us from the stands, “Five Fall Fashion Trends You Must Have!” and “What’s Hot, Right Now!” Add to this the many fashion “rules” we’ve heard over the years—no white after Labor Day, no tights with open-toed shoes—and we begin to believe fashion is a minefield of difficult decisions where one wrong step could doom us to style pariahdom.
The fashion secret that should make headlines is that dressing ourselves it’s not nearly as difficult as we’ve been lead to believe. Fashion is not a science, and there’s no formula for looking great. Well, if there is a formula it’s this:
I love it + I look great in it = It’s fashionable
In countless online forums, women ask questions like, “Can I wear black heels with my blue dress?” and “Are bell-sleeved sweaters still in style?” I’ve gotten caught up in the hype. I tried on the skinny jeans. (No, never, not happening.) My heart sunk when I read that my beloved cowboy boots were “out.” Then I came to my senses. Can we wear it—whatever “it” is? Of course! Epiphany. We can wear whatever we want.
In fact, the fashionable folk among us don’t follow trends. They look in the mirror. If they like it, they wear it. And, in general, they’re admired for breaking the mold.
Fashion trends are fickle. Five years ago, none of us would be caught dead in an ankle boot, and now they’re all the rage. Why? Because fashion editors and Milan designers told us they should be. Likewise, the “faux pas” of today could be the current trends of tomorrow. It’s not unimaginable that a few years from now, we’ll all be wearing sandals over panty hose because Jean-Paul Gaultier did it on the runway. (But oh, I hope not.)
The dangers of being a slave to trends are threefold.
1. Not many of us can afford to enter in the never-ending cycle of, for example, buying high-heel oxfords this season just to cart them off to Goodwill a year later when they’re out to replace them with wooden clog stilettos (or whatever ridiculous thing) are in. Following flash-in-the-pan trends can seriously threaten your financial wellbeing.
2. Combining of-the-moment everything makes you look like you’re trying too hard. You are. Originality and fun are lost.
3. When you concern yourself with what you’re supposed to be wearing rather than what you really like and look good in, you start to lose sense of your personal style and who you are. This could be the worst casualty of caving in to trends.
It wasn’t always like this, but today I am honest enough with myself to completely ignore current trends and admit, for example, that I absolutely loathe booties and I will never wear them. I look good in baby-doll tops and I refuse to recycle my cowboy boots, despite them being supposedly passé. Yet I get plenty of compliments on the outfits I put together because they suit me, and possibly, because they’re a departure from the magazines and mannequins.
Having the courage to wear what you like and eschew what’s current makes an impact. Mixing vintage with new, expensive with cheap, or cheap with cheaper—any of it can work. The magazines just don’t want you to think that way.
And when it comes to questions like, say, “Are chandelier earrings out this summer?” you can safely rely on one source for an answer: yourself. If you love them, who cares if some fashion editor declared them so last season? The fashion industry is forever looking for the new “it” thing, because without it, designers don’t get press for their cutting-edge collections and fashion magazines don’t sell. Don’t fall for being marketed. Many of these trends are just a way to keep us interested in shopping and continuing to open up our wallets.
Fashion should be fun. So have fun with it. Dig deep and decide what you really enjoy in your wardrobe, and what makes you look your best. Ignore fashion advice from co-workers, friends, or media, and go with your gut. Go with your style.
Ultimately, if you’re unsure about an outfit—wondering if it’s hip enough, current enough—there’s one accessory you can add that will make it work. I swear, that accessory is (drumroll, please) confidence. You’ll never be at peace with your wardrobe and yourself until you stop listening to Vogue and D&G and start looking inward to find what you really like, and what works for YOU. So, redheads, wear pink. Ladies, pair black tights with blue heels. Slip on those so-last-season ballet flats. If you do it with an “I meant to do that” attitude, you can pull it off and you may even be viewed as a fashion pioneer. Who knows, the next new fashion trend might be the one you set yourself.
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