When building a wardrobe, the issue of trendiness is something that comes up when clients are looking for an update. Somehow, we have all been conditioned to believe that a wardrobe overhaul is synonymous with capitalizing on the latest trends to feel current and relevant. Many of my clients have a need to still feel like the cool girl despite being smack dab in the middle of menopause or after just having had a baby. Believe me, I know the struggle is real and we all have bodily hang-ups. No one wants to feel old, outdated, or irrelevant. (Gasp). I know many stylists have their own philosophies regarding trends, designer labels, and building wardrobe capsules; I am very happy to share mine with all of you since I believe that anything in life should be enjoyed in moderation. I do love all the things.

Before we discuss “trends” and how they may or may not impact our buying decisions, self-worth, and esteem, I want to revisit a concept that many people take for granted in the business of Fashion. There is a fundamental difference between fashion and style. I know I sound like a broken record repeating this, but I do not believe that this concept is truly understood. If we harken back to my previous post where I discuss in extreme brevity the history of fashion, the term “Fashion” comes from what the European aristocracy designed to be “au courant” or “à la mode”. To be “in fashion” with the cultural elite is basically the equivalent of Heidi Klum on Project Runway saying you are “in” or you’re “out”. Anyone else having flashbacks or PTSD remembering high school and wanting to be (or remain part of) the popular clique? The fashion industry has a knack for playing on our insecurities with these funny things called trends that make us want to be a special and fabulous person in the know. Now I am not suggesting that every designer is trend focused, sometimes there are pieces in a collection that become iconic that happen to have a mass appeal and deserve a place in one’s closet if it is something that speaks to you. Coveted items like a Balmain Blazer, Stuart Weitzman’s Nudist Shoes, or a Chanel Flap Bag are fashion staples but are always released in seasonal updates that are in line with what is trending in the moment. Trends are not all bad, they can add interest and fun to your wardrobe, and from a business perspective, it gives consumers a reason to buy. We all have magpie tendencies and love shiny new things. We are human after all.

If we know that trends have this supernatural power over our wants and desires, when do we indulge? This is something I battled with as a buyer for my boutique, and I have worked with numerous clients to figure out how to strike a balance between fashion, function, and utility. This is where style comes in. Style is unique to the individual. It is your personal curation of everything that is available to you on the market in the industry. Reread that statement and take a second to digest it. That is so much stuff that we cannot even process how much that even entails. There are designers and pieces we do not even know exist that are part of this stuff. How do we know what stuff is our stuff? That is what we look at when we develop our personal style. We consider a plethora of factors when we build a wardrobe; our lifestyle, our career, our personal preferences, our body type, our budget, our desires, what we feel comfortable wearing, and how we want others to perceive us. Our criteria aid us in creating parameters for building our personal style. Ultimately, it is a mixture of things that spark joy and things we need that serve a practical purpose.

As someone who loves aesthetically pleasing things; I know it is hard to not be seduced by the next new and fabulous seasonal fashion drop. The industry does have a weakness though, many trends tend to be cyclical. Human beings have a weakness for nostalgia and many designers build their collection on things that have inspired them from their life experiences. The psyche likes to weave our memories through our artistic life even if a design appears to be other-worldly. It cannot be helped. There will always be certain variations of prints, silhouettes, and ideas that will be recycled on the runway. My clients know I love color and prints and texture, and the pieces I select for them are always very specific. Certain prints are always a good idea; things like florals, paisley, plaid, polka dots, stripes, animal, (dare I say camo?), all phase in and out in terms of their trendiness but they always return. Blazers and denim are always available, but the fits vary. Not every trend appeals to or works for every client and that is okay. No matter what we decide to include in their wardrobe, it must make sense and it must feel right for them. There will always be something new or something old that can be made new to suit their tastes.

The beauty of fashion and style is that they are both constantly changing. We are everchanging; we see things differently as we expand our knowledge of the world through our own experiences. Personal style can and should evolve to suit our tastes the same way that the industry selects and praises the next best things. Fashion and style do not require rules although it helps to own pieces that fit properly to achieve your desired look and that make you smile. I encourage you to dress for you and the life you want to live. Consume wisely and with a conscience but do not let it prevent you from taking risks. Find new homes for the pieces that no longer serve you or find ways to reimagine them. When we are true to ourselves and who we are, the line between fashion and style becomes blurred because we have made it our own.  

Jaime Sloan-McCarthy