Style vs Trends: How To Suss Out Your Forever Wardrobe

Can you tell the difference between a classic style and an ephemeral trend? That’s what I want to discuss today: style vs trends! After showcasing a number of trend-led looks that I’ll be avoiding this season on my Instagram Stories, a number of you asked how to tell the difference. Today, I wanted to share with you my top tips on investing in styles that you will wear forever and ever, rather than regret purchasing almost immediately…

How To Tell Apart Style vs Trends

Ok, welcome to my mini guide to style vs trends, and how to invest in garments that you’ll truly love wearing over time…

1. Suss Out Your Personal Style

The Curated Closet placed on a table next to a coffee

One big misconception I see in the sustainable fashion space is that your wardrobe needs to be minimal, monochrome, and well, kind of boring. Sustainable fashion is whatever you make it – it could be a die-hard vintage wardrobe (check out Fabulous Miss K), or a rainbow-dyed capsule collection (see Emma Slade Edmondson or Sophie Benson‘s wardrobes). However, the one thing all our wardrobes have in common is a focus on buying less, buying better, and wearing a lot.

If you’re just starting on your style journey, I really recommend reading The Curated Closet by Anushka Rees*. It combines a sustainable approach to your own wardrobe with sustainable insights into the fashion industry as a whole. I read this for the first time in 2018, and you can see how my style has moved along from printed tees and jeans to investment pieces that I’m wearing even as I write this.

Once you know the basis of your style, you can start to build a more conducive wardrobe. The main things I tend to focus on now when investing in new items: is it a good fit? Is it made well, with quality fabrics? And does it fit my style? If it’s a yes to every question, I know it’s a worthwhile investment.

2. Distill Modern Styles Vs Trends – And See What Fits

Now, here comes the real task at hand: keeping up with trends, without actually investing in trends. I generally recommend avoiding trend-led garments because they will instantly date your wardrobe, will be worn for a short period of time, and will fall out of fashion quickly. That said, you can still enjoy fashion trends and stay up to date with current trends, but it involves updating your styling rather than buying new.

First, let’s explore where to get your fashion inspiration from. Personally, I like to subscribe to British Vogue, and will save outfits and posts on Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok. I also like to follow designers, but instead of coveting Balenciaga clothing* or bookmarking Louis Vuitton clothing* to buy, I instead use them as inspiration to restyle my existing wardrobe. This practice helps me to keep up to date with trends, and what looks modern and fresh. Instead of seeing them as a prescription of what to wear, I see it as inspiration.

For example, let’s look colour combinations – right now, pairing pillar-box red with burgundy seems to be everywhere. But remember when it was chartreuse everything? (I do, because I really couldn’t pull that off). Or consider grouping together certain styles, like twee. Twee is coming back and I am here for it! But instead of heading off to the high street to recreate an Alexa Chung look, I’ll look to my wardrobe and how I can pair a mini-skirt and shirt, for example.

And the same applies to jewellery. When investing in sustainable jewellery*, it’s important to consider the makers, the materials, and each piece’s longevity and wearability. Those special earrings or necklace should make you feel special on the regular, rather than left in a dusty jewellery box…

Note: Avoid Fast Fashion

On that note, one area I recommend avoiding completely is fast fashion. Fast fashion brands spin the wheel of trends, with a focus on making money. Their mission? To sell you the latest garbled iterations of catwalk looks and viral street styles, rather than guide you on how to do it yourself. Consider sewn-in shirt sweaters. Or upcycled-style jeans. Or worn-looking sneakers. All of these can be done yourself, with items in your wardrobe, or second-hand purchases, but fast fashion offers the more convenient (albeit exploitative) solution. Yes, you will have to put in more effort. But trust me, it’s worth it.

3. Consider What’s Genuinely Wearable, And What Only Looks Good In Photos…

Now, in and amongst the first two points I’ve hidden a golden rule. That is: is it wearable? Just like we’re seeing celebrities freeze their face for the perfect IG selfie (with the side-effects of some of the scariest IRL looks), certain outfits look good for the ‘gram only. I am guilty of this too, I have to admit. See these shoes? So uncomfortable. Just awful. (But hey, at least I got them second-hand, and donated them afterwards.)

In curating a truly stylish closet, you need to feel comfortable in your clothes. They need to fit you well – your body and your personality in equal measure. You need to feel confident in them. Otherwise, you simply won’t wear them.

So, ask yourself, is it genuinely wearable? And if the answer’s no, well… maybe try fashion rental!

4. Ask Yourself: Does It Go With My Entire Wardrobe?

And for another golden rule, get used to asking yourself: does it go with the rest of my wardrobe? I think we’ve all done it where we’ve bought a garment on a whim, only for it to sit in our wardrobes after one wear (or sometimes, no wears) because it simply doesn’t go with anything.

Consider your style to now dictate your entire wardrobe, not just an outfit, and definitely not just one item. You have an overall aesthetic, and while you may dress it up or down, and evolve it over time, the aim should be to make your style as synonymous with you as your name is.

5. Be Open To Restyling Outfits And Altering Pieces

Finally, let’s talk about style evolution. Shoulder pads will come and go, but your wardrobe should live on! That means restyling, and altering, as and when you need. Your body will fluctuate, your style will evolve, and your wardrobe can too, without having to be completely thrown out and started again. I’m only just getting into altering my clothes – mainly because of my weight fluctuations, and from purchasing vintage items that need an update – but if you’d like a starting point, try reading my guide to clothes alterations. And here’s the best thing about it: altering clothes will often be a lot less expensive than investing in new. Loved clothes last!

Style vs Trends in 2022…

Before signing off this post, I wanted to share a few key trends that I’ll be avoiding like the plague this season – and it seems you will be too! It’s not that these trends won’t suit you – or even, suit your personal style – but they will date quickly, and not be worn for long. Here’s a list of the top voted ‘trends’ I shared on my Instagram… Let me know what you think!

  • Cropped knitwear: 89%
  • Y2K Outfits: 88%
  • Crocs and plastic shoes: 84%
  • Quilted shackets: 82%
  • Dual-colour boots: 80%
  • Shoulder pads: 78%
  • Oversized collars: 75%
  • Sequins: 72%
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links and paid-for links (denoted '*'). All views and opinions expressed remain my own.


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