Imogen, I’ve just thought of an issue I don’t think I’ve seen addressed. I’ve always been a person who picks and chooses what trends to follow, and these days there’s generally enough going on that it’s easy to embrace the trends I like and ignore the rest. But what happens when a trend you’ve really loved goes out? What’s the line between individual style and looking really dowdy and outdated? Being feminine/dramatic in style I do get caught out occasionally, like my embellished jeans, or, in a few years time, the maxi skirts I love will go out of fashion again. Just thought this was a topic you might like to address some time in the future. Thanks for all the wonderful information.
Personal style is really important. Following fashions like a slave is not going to guarantee you style. But when you have found a style you love how long can you keep going with it before you look dated and frumpy?
- Fashion fads: last 3-12 months
- Fashion trends: last 1-5 years
- Fashion classics: last 5-10 years
- Fashion cycle: about 20 years until a trend will return (but always in a slightly different way)
Fads are those that suit few people – if you love it and it suits you, buy early in the fashion cycle (the emerging stage when it’s in the ‘junior’ market who do the most ‘disposable fashion’). Examples of fads might be very strong or loud patterns, cuffed boyfriend jeans, fluorescent colours, ponchos, patterned trousers and jeans – they tend to be harder to wear, less flattering or more extreme (less mainstream) than trends.
Trends will usually stay around for a number of years – think skinny jeans, pencil skirts, maxi dresses. They flatter more body shapes and come with some variety so you can find the version that suits you. You will see this in the mass market after it has been through the emerging (junior) market.
Classics change much less over time, though they do change and don’t last forever. Examples of classics are knee-high riding boots, trench coats, white collared shirt, shift dress in a dark neutral colour. straight leg black trousers, pencil skirts.
So you’ve found your favourites garments and love how they look on you. How long can you continue to wear them? Well that often depends on how trendy they were when you bought them, plus what part of the trend cycle you bought them in.
The more creative your look, the longer you can get away with wearing clothes that are unrelated to the current trends as they are not part of the fashion cycle in the same way. The more popular a trend, the less you can get away with wearing it when it’s deemed ‘out of fashion’.
The more dramatic your look, the less you have to change, but you still have to change (think the Dynasty look and how that dated). But there are fabulous creative/dramatic’s like Iris Apfel (above) who are never really in fashion, or just make fashion their own so wear what they love.
Classics do still change – you will notice that the length of a classic blazer changes over years. The width of the lapel, the placement of pockets and details. Notice how in the 1970s the collars were wide, in the 80s the shoulder pads are large and the lapels are low, the 90s jackets are longer as compared to the 2000s when they become more shaped and shorter.
So should you keep your favourites?
- Are they a fad, trend or classic?
- When did you buy them? How many years have you had them?
- Could you go into a store and buy a similar garment today (if not, it’s gone out of fashion)?
- Are they still in good condition?
- Did you buy them at the start of the trend or towards the end?
- Does it give you the a similar silhouette as the current trend?
Notice in this picture how the silhouette of the trousers changes from decade to decade. So in the 80s when trousers became narrow, if you were still wearing the flares of the 70s you’d look dated and frumpy. Same goes when the pleated tapered pants of the 90s was replaced by the bootleg of the noughties.
Why does it matter if you look dated? It can make you look older than you are and frumpy. It says to the world that you’re stuck in a time warp, that you haven’t moved on with the times. It says you have an inability to deal with change and may even hinder you at work.
There are many women who find a fashion trend they love, that they feel good in, and then keep on wearing it well past it’s use-by-date, a few years past is one thing, but a decade or more will age you. Just remember the fashion cycle – every 20 years the fashions repeat, just in a new, more updated way, with a more modern fabric, pattern and look. The trend you love right now, will be back in your life someday!
Fashion trends are a bit like milk, they have an expiry date!
I will be 60 in January (ugh), but try to stay as stylish as possible anyway. I do something that helps when my mind says “yes, you can wear that”, but the sane part of me says “have you looked in a mirror???”.
I have two boards on Pinterest. One, I call “Style” the other I call “20 again”. I get to pin to my heart’s content all of those pretty, floaty skirts, and backless dresses that only a sun-bronzed 20 something can wear! Then, I return to the real world and add beautiful, elegant, sophisticated outfits that are much more my “Style”. It’s fun, and surprisingly rewarding!