Making Friends With Trends

Leopard print coat

Leopard Print: Trendy Since 1930

I’ve noticed that many women our age can develop a real aversion to trends. Either they don’t want to be seen as fashion victims or as if they’re trying too hard to look young, or they feel that maintaining a classic and “timeless” style means eschewing trends altogether. Some even refuse to buy or wear something they otherwise like but perceive as trendy.

No one wants to look like everyone else or as if they have no inherent style sense of their own. (Ok, maybe some do, but for the sake of argument I’ll assume if you’re reading this blog that isn’t true for you.) But trends can be made to serve us rather than the other way around if we learn to look at them as tools and incorporate s e l e c t i v e l y.

Breathing new life your wardrobe. Even the most well-curated wardrobe needs a pick-me-up sometimes (and so do we!). Adding a few well-chosen pieces in a current color or style can make everything look fresh again. Accessories can be a great way to bring some currency without reinventing the wheel. I’ve noticed that even those discriminating, neutral-loving Parisiennes will add a scarf, bag or even shoes in an of-the-moment color. On our last visit to Paris in April 2012, it was notable to me how many women had “gotten the memo” about floral prints for spring, but were mostly wearing it in the form of scarves.

Stocking up on favorite styles. Love a block heel, fisherman sweaters, rose gold or ankle boots? When certain styles are on-trend, the selection goes up exponentially. It doesn’t mean you have to stop wearing after the trend has passed, either. (Remember, every “classic” was once avant-garde.) But if you’ve been waiting out rounded ballerina flats in favor or pointy toes, or are a fan of moto jackets or anything cobalt blue, right now you have lots of options and can be discriminating.

Trying something new. Always wondered whether a peplum would work with your body type? Whether you might want to give a longer skirt a try? Trendy items quickly work their way to lower-priced retailers these days (or may even start there), so you can often test drive for a song. (And then once you’ve found a style or color that sings for you, look for an “investment” option.)

Keeping your look current. This is related to #1, but for those of you in the workplace, there can be certain value in giving the impression that we keep up with what’s going on in the world. Older workers can often be assumed to be “out of touch” with new processes and technology. Ageist, yes, but it’s there and while there’s no substitute for actually staying current with developments in your field, first impressions matter. That doesn’t mean you need to hop on every trend that comes down the pike, but avoiding looking as if you’re stuck in a time warp certainly can’t hurt. I think this is especially true if you manage people, give presentations or deal face-to-face with clients.

If you’re worried about an item looking dated quickly, remember that the most extreme expressions of trends will usually lose their currency bloom more quickly.  But nowadays, many trends seem to have a longer shelf life, and different seasons’ trends can peacefully co-exist. In general, I’d caution against wearing a head-to-toe trendy look or mix of trends. Trendy or not, no one style is right for everyone, so we need to be discriminating. And remember, even the most classic pieces can look dated after a few years…cuts and details change (e.g. wide vs. narrow lapels, soft vs. structured shoulders) so it’s worth checking with a tailor or dressmaker to see if favorite wardrobe items can be updated.

Also, take heart: every trend we hate will eventually loosen its death grip on the market…five inch heels, I’m looking at you!!

How do you feel about trends? Do you have any favorite current trends, or items that began as trendy and have become your classics?

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  1. Cornelia
    November 18, 2013 / 3:58 am

    To me there is a difference between being on trend and knowing your style and upgrading it when the need arises. I know what looks good on me, and I don’t care to I look younger, but I do want to look good for my age without resorting to drastic measures like surgery or injecting things into my face to achieve that. Healthy weight, excercise and good posture along with style go a long way in my book. And as for peplum, why any middle aged woman add visual weight to that part of their body is the question of the day.

    • Cornelia
      November 18, 2013 / 5:36 am

      I hope I did not come off as too grumpy this morning, but I had just seen a photograph of 73 year old Raquel Welch. Women should have much more to offer than trying to look sexy at that age. Oh well, carry on with your excellent blog, Susan. I do so enjoy it.

      • Sockpuppet
        November 22, 2013 / 12:17 pm

        @Cornelia Two things jumped out at me from your post “sexy” and “at that age.” I think we can all agree that women have much to offer besides their sexuality at any age, but sexuality is also a part of us at any age. Nothing wrong with continuing to celebrate yourself as a sensual woman at 40, 50, 60, 70 and beyond. One thing doesn’t cancel out the other.

    • Vera
      November 19, 2013 / 6:57 am

      I actually bought the peplum vee neck Banana Republic sweater that was mentioned earlier on this blog. I liked it so much I bought it in another colour. I had never thought to try peplums and would never have tried it without seeing it here but it looks very nice and does not add visual weight. I have a defined waistline but a bit of a belly when I gain the 10 pounds, that is covered very well. It does not make me look fat in the least.

  2. November 18, 2013 / 4:44 am

    You brought up some excellent points! I really just use trends to update my wardrobe occasionally with colors and an occasional design. For example, I love the leggings and skinny pants trend and it works for me. But, just like animal prints, most of them have come around and around and around. You do have to be true to you…if pastels are in, I really do not wear them any longer and calling them a trend isn’t going to change that. I agree with Cornelia on peplum…I have not worn it for the same reason…don’t need anything drawing the eye to that region of my body!! Great classic, chic styling is always in ….thank goodness!

  3. November 18, 2013 / 5:01 am

    That coat looks similar to one my mother wore way back in the 50s. I remember playing dress up in it. I guess I started young.

  4. Duchesse
    November 18, 2013 / 5:41 am

    Your post helped me realize I see hardly any women here who look out of date. I occasionally see women (usually well into old age) in badly-dyed colours and poor fit, but that seems tied to disposible income.

    Everyone thinks, occasionally, that she needs a lift, and a new scarf or shoe can make a years-old dress a renewed pleasure. And, in addition to all you have written, trends exist to entice women to consume.

  5. November 18, 2013 / 5:42 am

    I agree that modification or a little bit of a trend keeps us young. We all have our favourite colours and shapes of clothing but something a little something different shows that we are not stuck in a time warp. I, too, like a little bit of leopard.

  6. November 18, 2013 / 5:49 am

    I was nodding in agreement when I read this post, and then I started reading the comments. Oh dear, here I am sitting in a peplum top at the grand old age of 66! This inspired me to write a post, which I have linked to Une Femme’s. I would be grateful if you would take a quick look at mine and give me your honest opinions: Thanks!

  7. November 18, 2013 / 6:11 am

    I think one of the most important points you make here, is that even classic items can look dated. I always need a black blazer in my closet, but after a few years, the cut looks “off” and I want to find one that looks more current. So things need replacement even if they’re not “trends”.

    • bettina
      November 18, 2013 / 8:58 am

      So true. I often see blog posts by young women who have bought something “classic” and they talk about how they plan to wear it for the next 20 years. But it very rarely works that way (although some things are worth keeping because the silhouette eventually makes a comeback).

      • GingerR
        November 18, 2013 / 6:25 pm

        I don’t have many things that I wear much past 5 years. In addition to Kathy’s point that cuts and silhouettes change I’ve also found that my body or lifestyle changes. It’s something to consider when you start hearing about “investment” dressing.

    • Wendy
      November 19, 2013 / 2:08 am

      I like your post Pseu & Kathy Peck Leeds always seems to make such valid comments . I do wish she would have a blog of her own fashion tips .

  8. Lady of Style
    November 18, 2013 / 6:25 am

    The only difference between the fabulous leo coat pictured above is probably that it was real when the photo was taken but we’d wear fake fur nowadays.

    I know my style and do incorporate trends but only if I can put my own stamp on. I am also happy to skip them – you won’t see me in plaid trousers this season and I never understood why I would wear a skull on my bag…

    Peplum tops can be tricky but it depends on the fabric, the overall look and the body shape.

    Annette | Lady of Style

  9. November 18, 2013 / 7:00 am

    Such a well-articulated, thoughtful post on this topic, which can be controversial among our demographic. My approach is similar to yours, integrating trends, as/if they suit me, to update my look but still happily relying on some basic classics.

  10. Shawna
    November 18, 2013 / 7:07 am

    The comments section has turned into a discussion of peplums, something I would never have worn when I was younger and won’t be wearing now, but as you point out, that’s why dressing yourself in classics, trends or burlap sacks-okay you didn’t actually suggest burlap sacks- is a personal choice and style is about finding what works for you. Most trends don’t appeal to me, but after seeing them frequently some grow on me. Leopard is one, and I might consider shoes or a scarf.

  11. Anonymous
    November 18, 2013 / 7:14 am

    A very good post. You are right about certain colors trends and if it is a color that suits me, I stock up. I enjoy exploring new silhouettes and will purchase one or two to try out. The skinny jeans were not my favorite, but I found that they tucked into tall boots very well. So, I ended up purchasing a few and matched them to my tall boots. With a longer sweater there is not much of the “skinny” to see. I have avoided peplum although I admire it on so many women.

  12. November 18, 2013 / 7:19 am

    I think you and your commenters have said it all beautifully. Basically, we don’t need to be slaves to trends, but when one comes along that works well for our style, so much the better!

    Now I just need to get one lovely jacket tailored so the shape looks more current…

  13. November 18, 2013 / 7:45 am

    While I don’t jump on every trend that comes down the pike, I do try many of them to see if they work for me. I won’t spend too much on things that I know I will only wear for a few months before they are outdated. But if a trend that works for me seems like it has legs – booties and boyfriend jeans, for example – I am all in.
    I tried peplum once. Done correctly, it actually can flatter your figure and not add bulk to your middle. The peplum dress I bought was less than $50 and is great for weddings or other dressy situations. I probably will not hold on to it for too long as the style seems to be fading away. I’m glad I only bought one peplum piece and it didn’t cost too much.
    Great post, Deja!

  14. Hostess
    November 18, 2013 / 8:42 am

    I love your discerning eye for fashion….you have such a grasp on style for women of a certain age.
    I adore ballet flats but am excited that pointy toes are back!
    Keeping current and on budget I opt for the accessory too.

  15. bettina
    November 18, 2013 / 9:19 am

    I just recently adopted the skinny jeans trend. (I know it’s been around for years, but I had resisted.)

    I’d been shopping for tops and I noticed that nothing looked good on me. Everything was too long or too blousey. And the things that weren’t, tended to look overly plain or frumpy. I was hesitant to wear loose-fitting tops because I thought they would make my waist look thick. And they did, when I was wearing my usual boot-cut jeans.

    Then I tried on a blousey top over some skinny jeans. Voila, I looked in the mirror and instantly felt more modern and fashionable. And not shapeless, as I’d feared.

    So sometimes it’s worth it to try on a trend and see how it works, before saying “it’s not my style”.

    • Shawna
      November 18, 2013 / 4:57 pm

      I have pretty much had that same experience, Bettina. I am a late adopter of the skinny jean too. I still have some boot cuts that I love but I now have skinny jeans too.

  16. November 18, 2013 / 11:03 am

    Excellent points, Sue. I do keep track of trends, and incorporate what works for my lifestyle. E.g, I adore boyfriend jeans, and will wear them past their expiration date!

  17. D. A. Wolf
    November 18, 2013 / 12:11 pm

    It’s such a fine line to walk, but I do think many of us have the advantage of knowing what looks good on us, and possibly adding just a touch of whatever is trendy with an accessory.

    And you know what that means to me… shoes… or a scarf or possibly glasses! (If you want to see my one and only indulgence this season, leopard, you can peek here… – and oh-so-comfy.)

  18. November 18, 2013 / 1:38 pm

    Yes, yes, yes! Trends can make dressing fun, you don’t need to follow every single one, but it is good to be in the know. And whether young or old, or in the middle, trends are just like a bit of salt, sprinkle to add some flavor but don’t spoil the dish. Great points, great post, Pseu.

  19. November 18, 2013 / 2:30 pm

    A very well presented article my dear! I was struggling a few years ago with the trend concept … but found avoiding them … made my style rather stagnate … and joyless. Now I am open to trying the trends that interest me … as long as I can make them congruent with the rest of my wardrobe.

    I actually became more interested in trends with Adrienne and Jill’s How I Wear My series … I had particular fun seeing if I could integrate neon into my wardrobe … a color I had vowed never to try. I still love my pointy toed flat sling backs in a neon shade of pink… they even became a staple in my summer wardrobe.

    I think trends in ones wardrobe … can add some zest and verve when sprinkled in judiciously. Participating even a little in trends, is a way of participating in the verbiage side of fashion … which after all … is sometimes what style blogging is really all about.

    Thank you for your well written and formed article … I do appreciate the thought and the thoughts provoked within your blog! Kudos to you my dear!

  20. November 18, 2013 / 4:42 pm

    So well put Sue and i couldnt agree more! Xixo

  21. November 18, 2013 / 5:18 pm

    Great post! I can usually find a trend in my closet somewhere! Peplums and animal print are staples for me. I tend to wear what I love, trend or not.

  22. November 18, 2013 / 5:34 pm

    I don’t hate trends. I just hate SOME trends:).

  23. November 18, 2013 / 7:47 pm

    An excellent, well-written post! I think if the trend-du-jour is a flattering one stock up on that shape and wear it proudly. In the case of patterns such as florals or plaids I try to stick to accessories or thrift store bargains. The plaid maxi I’m wearing in this week’s Visible Monday linkup cost me ninty-nine cents at Goodwill 😉


  24. November 19, 2013 / 12:19 am

    Well said, excellent piece of work, you are a remarkable orator! I couldn’t agree more, some women seem to get stuck in a trend rut, and never refresh the look. I agree, the simple addition of a more recent and current trend, can bring a previous century’s look into the new millennium.
    Great post Susan!

  25. Swissy
    November 19, 2013 / 6:42 am

    This is a most current topic! I recently read that Mireille Guiliano recommends a 1/3 classic, 1/3 on-trend, and 1/3 personal/ideosynchratic balance in one’s “ensembles”. I am guilty of avoiding trends, but recently realized that, for instance, the shade called “acai” by Pantone is really a purple I have in several pieces. It’s on trend and it’s on me! And block heels. The personal comes into play with my accessories, which are almost all one-of-a-kind. I do feel fresher when I pay attention to these things. Thanks, Pseu.

  26. Mette
    November 19, 2013 / 9:54 am

    I dislike the word trend, trendy. I myself try to avoid using it. I´m somewhat interested in fashion, but then I´m interested in many other things as well.
    I browse through ( less nowadays ) some magazines and see what the shops over here and online have to offer.
    If I get obsessed about something I see, I try to find a way to get it. Somehow I manage to squeeze it to my existing small wardrobe.
    I´ve marked, that there is a great difference how women in US dress than us here in northern Europe.
    Our climate is so different, the colors in the nature are so different, the sun shines so differently.
    I guess I wear clothes which fit the occasion, clothes that are functional and well made.
    Clothes I feel comfortable in. Some might new, some ages old.
    I also make the decisions myself and don´t expect compliments, in fact compliments bother me.

  27. November 19, 2013 / 10:45 am

    I don’t buy into trends but I think it’s important to try something new and to update a signature look.

  28. November 20, 2013 / 10:13 am

    Great guidelines. I agree that trends can certainly be friends with the trend-averse set. I saw a new wool coat, fitted but oversized, nipped waist, big sleeves, skirt. Oooo! I won’t be spending $5000 on it anytime soon but it certainly inspires me to trawl the vintage stores because the new one is an upstyling of an old classic.
    One trend I’ve also seen – please go away – “Ugly Christmas Sweaters.” No, not even in jest shall I wear one! Vintage shops are overflowing with them.

  29. Kerrie Roberts
    November 21, 2013 / 1:37 am

    Now that I’ve retired (early) I tend to dress casually all the time so I’ve tried to keep my choice of things like jeans up to date and keep to simple light knit tops and good accessories. It’s always fun to watch new trends but haven’t we all learned the hard way that many of these aren’t for all of us.My favourite buy was a black trench coat that I found In France 14 years ago and it still works well, especially with black jeans/pants and boots.I also find that keeping your hairstyle and colour up to date can make a simple outfit stand out. Love your blog

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