Navigating Trends: What to Take On and What to Pass Up

By Veronica Bessey-Farrar and Elle Monus of True Image Consulting

As an Image Consultant and Personal Stylist, one of the biggest struggles is deciding what trends are worth investing in, and which ones are fleeting but ultimately a flop (I’m looking at you tiny odd-shaped sunglasses of 2020).

In the days of social media being Queen, it seems like fads are moving faster than ever so how do you actually keep up? How can you even afford to keep up? The first thing you need to decide is- how much do you actually care? Yeah, I said it. I’m in full sass mode today so I’m willing to say that I really don’t care much about fashion trends. I pay attention, but they rarely fully determine what I put on my body.

I created my own system of “The Three Levels of Care” when it comes to trends. And as always, I just made these up but surely I get a little credit for having professional experience and lots of practice. They are:

  1. Trend Setter
  2. A Little Dab Will Do Ya
  3. The Dali Lama

Trend Setter– This is for you if you want to follow every trend, or if you’re an actual Kardashian. You know what’s coming out each season and how it translates into mass market fashion.

A Little Dab Will Do Ya- This is for you if it takes a little while for trends to reach you, but you partake readily and you’d say you buy a few on-trend items each season that you don’t necessarily seek out.

The Dali Lama- You’re a classic and you’re about the classics. If a trend makes it to your closet, it was probably an accident. You like what you like and what you like has stayed “in style” throughout all the comings and goings of trends.

Navigating Trends Based on Type

I’m living in my full 3-ness today (anyone else an enneagram nerd?) so you’re going to get this in problem/solution list form.

The Trendsetter

Problem: How do I get the trends as soon as they come out?

Solution: Fashion Week happens twice a year. Go to (or watch-they’ll usually stream them now) as many shows as you can. If you cant, keep an eye on magazines like Harpers Bazaar for a quick list or find your favorite fashion influencer on IG.

Here you’ll see the runway version of trends. They’ll change as they hit mass market, but you’ll know what the big ideas are. For example, flouncy sleeves, higher necklines, lower waistlines, repeating decades, etc.

Feel free to even come up with your own interpretation of those trends and stay way head of the curve. After all, high fashion often looks like someone just took a child’s drawing and turned it into clothing. I promise there’s no shade there.

Problem: How can I afford to keep updating my wardrobe?

Solution: Even fast fashion gets expensive when you’re constantly trying to keep up but that’s going to be your best bet when you want to stay on top of trends each season.

Try sticking with stores like Fashion Nova, Asos, and H&M for low cost clothing that pretty quickly translates trends into mass market items. You’ll feel much better tossing that out of style dress if it only cost you $30.

Also, the Kardashians sell their closets so if you’re lucky enough to be the same size with a few thousand dollars to spend, you can cop their looks as soon as they are ready to let them go.

Problem: What do I do with all these clothes?!

Mo’ trends, mo’ problems, baby. That closet is starting to look stacked. Poshmark, ThredUp or any marketplace platform is now your best friend. You can sell your clothes to make a bit of your money back- just be ready to put in a little bit of work.

Otherwise, you always have the option to donate to your local Goodwill or Women’s Shelter.

The A Little Dab Will Do Ya-

Problem: What trends should I actually follow?

Solution: Find trends that run down the middle of the road. If it seems outlandish- it isn’t likely to stick. Find fun twists on the classics like a different neckline cut or fun pattern that’s bold enough to catch an eye but not so bold that it can easily be offensive (imagine the brown, black, orange and white shag carpet of the 70s).

Problem: How do I know when it’s over?

Solution: Trends will play themselves out, especially the ones that hit the hottest. Once you start seeing the trend done poorly in very low cost stores- it has likely run it’s course.

For example- the strappy top trend. It started as a nod to the S&M world of harnesses. You saw Rihanna and Taylor Swift wearing actual harnesses to red carpet event. Next it translated to strappy bras and bralettes that peeked out from under your top for that sexy look that suggested you had a fun surprise on. Eventually it was watered down enough that actual shirts had extra, flimsy straps that ran alongside the V-neck. That was when it was time to let go.

The Dali Lama

Problem: How do trends even relate to me?

Solution: If you’re a classic suit or dress gal or even a basic jeans and a cute top type- there will always be a trend that will sneak its way into your style. You simply cant escape it if you’re doing any shopping.

Knowing how to pick the right items that will balance on the fine line of trendy and classic is key.

Problem: How do I stay up to date?

Solution: It’s easy to go stale when you stick with classics. Again, no shade here. I love a great classic. They make capsule wardrobes possible and they will be in your closet forever keeping you looking polished.

A classic black pencil skirt or blazer will always be in play- just make sure you’re updating your cuts once they start to change drastically. Bulky shoulders of the 80s blazers are obviously done, but the vests of the early 2000s came and went (and are coming back) so grab clean lines in black but rotate out more on-trend items in that you’ll have to replace more often due to wear- like tops and shoes.