In Defense of Trends

This is both an update and a counterpoint to one of my recent posts, in which I gave a hard pass to a multitude of recent summer trends. It may interest you to know that since that post I have somehow become the proud owner of a china red ruffled wrap skirt (J. Crew via eBay) and a blue slip dress (Equipment via watching one dress waiting to be able to afford it for five months).
To answer your question- Because I hinted that I was going to do as much in the post, no, this does not make me a hypocrite. Besides, I look very good in china red. And silk.

But my weakness well-reasoned much-considered purchases do not mean you should go out and buy a pair of jeans that only has a zipper and no buttons. Because what is that nonsense? Or, heaven forfend, one of these.

Counterexamples notwithstanding, I think trends do have ~some~ meaningful benefits. Personal benefits even, a supposed to benefits for our rapacious capitalist economy.

  • Trends can inspire you to try new things, which can lead to discovery. Only by trying new things can you find out what works best for you- what you like best, what suits your body or your face, what you value in a lifestyle, etc.
    For example, I let my naturally thick eyebrows grow out for the first time in years once fuller eyebrows came back into style a few years ago.  Going back to a slightly cleaner version of the eyebrows I used to rock at eleven looks more natural, suits my face better, and has allowed me to finally let go of the stress-plucking I developed when my anorexia was at its worst.  Even when thinner eyebrows come back around again, I think I’ll keep mine because they feel most like me. And maybe I wouldn’t have figured that out if Arizona Muse and then Cara Delevingne hadn’t looked so great.
  • Is this a benefit? Trends give you a chance to make mistakes. And where would we be if we couldn’t look back at pictures of ourselves from years ago (or better yet, family and friends) and marvel at the sartorial decisions we made.  I’m not a big proponent of making mistakes, but I feel like this one is a kind of unavoidable rite of passage. Even if something is a great idea and very ‘you’ at the time. Times change and so do people. In the end there is no certainty but looking like an idiot and then eventually death.
  • Similar to the above: trends give us some great cultural landmarks that interact with the cultural and political scene.  Burning bras and feminism. Hippies and Vietnam War protests.  Dutch portraiture and extravagant lace ruffs. Fashion and trends make for a really fascinating anthropological study and a wonderful tie in to our history.

What it comes down to is that different things work for different people and trends are an amazing way to be introduced to new things that might work for you.

I think there is a danger in thinking of trends as a status signal- something you need to have at the right moment to show that you’re ‘with-it’ and ‘cool’ and not have as soon as the next thing comes along. It’s wasteful and also not very reflective of who we are as people.
I think at best, the goal of fashion, beauty, and even lifestyle is to have fun and enjoy our personalities, attitudes, and bodies.
My goal, as far as trends go, is to pick the things that resonate with me the most and let everything else go by- because things that aren’t meant for me won’t help me be comfortable, realize myself through what I wear or do, however you want to call it.

I guess in the end it’s about making trends work for you, rather than trying to stay on a treadmill of keeping current.  Doing what you want rather than what the companies ask. Being an intellectual and expert about what goes on your body, rather than taking orders. Because no one knows you better than you do.

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