Sociology of Style “Growing out of Trends”

I admit, like a lot of women, I love clothes. And by now, readers, you probably know I like to think, analyze, and muse on all sorts of things. Recently I’ve found an unexpected marriage between style and analyzing in the aptly named Sociology of Style, “fashion for the thinking person.”
Anna Akbari, the blog’s Founder, sums up the site as “intelligent fashion for the everyday person. Written for both men and women, Sociology of Style will delve into topics including technology, politics, gender, and sustainability, as they pertain to fashion, body, and culture.” Each article ends with helpful tips about the topic, including (but not limited to) apps to download, fashion trends to try, or books to read.
I’ve also had the opportunity to contribute to this site for the last couple months, which has been incredibly fun. The article below was posted yesterday, and is perfect for millennials, as it discusses why it’s important to grow out of trends as you age. I hope you enjoy it!
Also, you can sign up for a weekly email subscription here.
Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn. —Orson Welles

From pops of neon to jeans all colors of the rainbow, half shaved heads to summer tribal prints, it’s fun to spot current trends. And whether praising or criticizing a trend, it could be observed that the greatest connoisseurs of trendiness are commonly teens and twentysomethings. And considering the relationship between identity and self-presentation, perhaps that is how it should be?

Trendiness is a right of passage for youth because they are experimenting by literally trying on different identities. But starting around your late 20s, you start to notice patterns in all facets of your personal history: Professionally, you start so see a pattern of core strengths and weaknesses. Personally, you start to see relationship patterns. And your personal style will also have a cumulative history that ebbs and flows (for better or worse) through the years.

Turns out, the cliche, “what goes around comes around,” is actually true, particularly when it comes to fashion trends. Denim overalls are an example of a trend that has already been recycled within my generation’s lifetime. The difference is that when I wore them in the late 1990s, they had a faux-grungy appeal, whereas today they offer a much more tailored presentation. Recalling my history with overalls, I may be reluctant to try them again, thinking it’s “way too 90s,” or I could embrace the reinvention of one of my adolescent favorites. Either way, I have a style history to fall back on when making decisions on what’s right for me, instead of just falling blindly into the “newest” trends.

Streamlining your personal style is also a great way to gain “identity capital,” as 20something expert and author Meg Jay recommends. In her TED talk,  “Why 30 is not the new 20,” she explains that the defining decade of your twenties should be used not only to experiment, but to start building your identity. As you mature, learning to create a visual identity will build confidence as the years roll by.

Another downfall of failing to learn your style as you age is that you can get stuck in a rut. Far from being a trend victim, failing to develop a personal style can horribly date you. The trends of a youth long gone look unflattering and express an identity that hasn’t matured past a certain point in time. Know when to retire a look or update it.  And some trends, like the (sometimes controversial) mullet, are just better left to hibernate indefinitely.

Here are some tips for helping you define your personal style and build confidence right now, and for the years ahead:

Read: Feeling a bit clueless about how to define your personal style? Study up on different styles and then learn how to achieve them at any age with What’s My Style? and I Love Your Style: How to Define and Refine Your Personal Style.

Download: Need a style boost? Look to your own closet. You can store your entire wardrobe and snap photos of outfits you love for future use with the free iPhone and Android app, Cloth. Get inspiration from a community of “Cloth-ers,” and even submit your own outfits.

Do: Always trust your gut! Do you feel uncomfortable in skinny jeans? No worries. Feel awesome in a trendy top-knot? Then rock it with confidence. The first step in defining your style is building self-assurance. Find out ways to do that here.

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One thought on “Sociology of Style “Growing out of Trends”

  1. Ha, you know I don’t really think too much about personal style (which, of course, IS part of my style)

    But, I dig what you’re saying there. It’s important to take a good look at how you are, not how you think people will perceive you.

    This is a skill that’s applicable to all areas of life. I know what I want people to take away from interacting with me, because I know what I want to take away from my own life. It took me a few years to put that perspective together, because I used to worry that it was narcissism (when in fact it is self-actualization and reflection). I also think there’s nothing wrong with trying on personas and outfits, if you are committed to learning what works for you. That approach has helped me relate to people who’ve got a good 10 years less on their age than I do.

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