The fashion world has always been dominated by trends, and the rise of social media platforms has only accelerated the rate at which the latest fads come and go. Where before fashion trends would come in and out of style over a period of several seasons or even several years, we’re now seeing microtrends pop up and die out in a matter of days.
While witnessing these changes can be exciting, there’s also no denying that microtrends can have extremely damaging effects on both the environment and consumer well-being. For one thing, microtrends incentivize retailers to make new clothes and trash old ones at unprecedentedly fast rates, leading to more waste and harmful production emissions. For another, fashion enthusiasts who pressure themselves to keep up with microtrends will likely spend excessively on clothes that they may not even like for the sake of subscribing to what’s “in.”
Practicing more conscious consumerism is one practical way to mitigate the potential harmful effects of the microtrend cycle. Instead of diving headfirst into new fashions, it pays to step back and reflect on whether a new trend is worth participating in.
Here are 4 questions you can ask to determine if a trend is for you:
1. Does the Trend Fit Your Lifestyle?
Fashion trends may be fun, but not all of them are strictly practical to subscribe to. Before you add particular items to your wardrobe, think about how often and comfortably you’d be able to wear them given your lifestyle. The climate where you live, your work environment, and the kinds of activities you do in your free time are all important lifestyle-related factors to consider before buying into a particular trend.
For instance, athleisure might be super popular nowadays, but it might not be the best style for someone who frequently attends formal functions or works at an office with a strict dress code. On the other hand, if you have a relatively active lifestyle and the freedom to keep your looks casual, athleisure should be right up your alley. Feel free to shop the best leggings, sneakers, and crop tops from brands you trust, since these clothes will likely see a lot of use in your everyday life.
2. Does It Mesh with Your Personal Style?
If you have a strong sense of your personal style, you’ll be less likely to follow along with trends just for the sake of doing so. To determine your style, try describing the clothes you like best and the kinds of outfits you most enjoy putting together. Do you prefer dressy looks or more casual, relaxed ones? Are your favourite pieces preppy, glamorous, edgy, feminine, or something else?
Another good way to identify your style is to pinpoint your major priorities when it comes to clothing. Do you use fashion to create a particular persona or give off a particular impression to those who see you? When it comes to comfort and style, do you value one over the other or do you strive for a balance of the two? Do you enjoy making daring style choices, or would you prefer clothes that are easy to mix and match? Once you’ve answered at least a few of these questions, you’ll have a better sense of what new trends will work well with your current wardrobe.
3. Would You Wear It If It Wasn’t Trendy?
At their best, trends can expose you to new items of clothing, push you to explore styles you wouldn’t usually wear, and help you update or expand your fashion identity. If you’re looking to refresh your current wardrobe, then it might help you to think about whether a particular trend will enable you to do so in a way that you can enjoy long-term. If a particular trend has brought a certain piece of clothing to your attention and you can see yourself wearing it even after the fad itself has faded, then that’s a good sign to add it to your wardrobe.
4. Can You Thrift, Upcycle, or Repurpose It?
While this question may not necessarily help you decide if a particular trend suits you, it will encourage you to find practical, sustainable ways to try out trends you’re interested in. Clothing costs money, and there’s no reason to blow so much of your hard-earned income on pieces that you might not end up wearing too often in the long term. Plus, as mentioned earlier, buying new clothes from fast fashion retailers has a profoundly detrimental effect on the environment. Searching for on-trend items in thrift stores or repurposing older pieces is ultimately a more cost-effective and less wasteful approach.
This tip is especially useful when you consider that most, if not all, trends are cyclical. Today’s hottest fashions are, for the most part, just reimagined versions of what was trendy a decade or two ago. Given this, it shouldn’t be too hard for you to find thrifted or hand-me-down pieces that you can experiment with instead of buying brand new.
Ultimately, exploring new trends can be fun, and it can also teach you things you never knew about yourself and your style—as long as you’re dabbling in trends that you actually find worth trying. In the long run, thinking carefully about the trends that appeal to you and why you’re interested in them will make you a more mindful consumer.