Is being a 'trend follower' really a bad thing?

by - Friday, June 26, 2015

On Sunday, I had a disagreement with my boyfriend. We’d enjoyed a beautifully lazy day in the park and after a spot of lunch I was sorting through yet another pile of clothes to go on eBay while he sat on the sofa across the room playing football manager, occasionally breaking his interest long enough to glance over and ask ‘you’re selling that? But you love it!’ in vaguely incredulous tones. That’s when he called me the name that struck the blow – ‘trend follower’.

Now, it may have been PMS, sunstroke or my stubborn streak coming out in resentment against the idea that I could be influenced by something so frivolous as a trend, but I ended up dwelling on the sentiment all afternoon, until my wonderful other half realised that he's obviously irked me and dutifully apologised. Between my love of vintage and obsessional interest in thrifting, I suppose I’ve always felt somewhat ‘above’ the idea of following fashion – it’s an expensive habit and I hate the idea of forking out for something only to end up discarding it a few months later when it’s no longer in fashion. Not to mention the ethics of such ‘fast fashion’, I’ve always much preferred to search for a bargain, and to end up in something that you won’t see everybody else wearing. Thus, three quarters of my current wardrobe is now vintage, from the charity shop of otherwise something I’ve had for years.

When I (perhaps defensively) mentioned this to Kevin, he agreed, but he did raise one interesting point: in the last year, my second most popular app next to eBay is Bloglovin. Between becoming a regular blogger myself and working from home, I have become a devourer of social media, a dissector of outfits, and a connoisseur of the high street, all without even stepping onto it myself. Add in a fashion management job that put me at the heart of vintage industry (and elevated me above my paltry student salary), and there is no denying that I’ve been surrounded by more clothes in the last 6 months than ever before. Topshop, while still a luxury, is a place I can suddenly see myself in, a place that sells clothes I want to wear and can (almost) justify the price of. I look far less at magazines and models and far more at the internet, taking all my sartorial inspiration from girls just like me., all over the country, posing in front of tripods or hunched over their laptops. I pin obsessively, and slowly, over time, my choices have become much less sporadic, and a lot more paisley, loud prints and all things retro. Heck, I even live streamed part of fashion week. In short, he’s right: I have become addicted to, and an active follower of, fashion. 

I've always been a little bit oversensitive whenever anybody suggests that I've changed, whether it be the way I dress, the way I write or something else entirely. But really, change is no bad thing. Change in this way is indicative of growth. It’s a curious thing, to go from being a teenage student desperately trying to look good on no money, to a young adult who has some disposable income and a much better semblance of what suits me. For years after we first met I was what Kevin describes as a ‘pastel princess’ – anything gingham, cath kidston or shabby chic was firmly up my street. I worshipped at the altar of primark, and true aspiration was being able to sew my own 50s style frocks out of bedsheets. While I don’t yet look back on these years and cringe, it was clear that I was both price and pinterest orientated, determined to look prim, proper and, dare I admit it, feminine.

With the benefit of hindsight, I think I was lacking in self-esteem. Pastels felt soft and pretty for a girl who wasn’t yet sure who she was. Pastels were a direct rejection of my emo-youth (which I adored at the time, don’t get me wrong.), and a way of dipping my toe into becoming a young lady. It’s a passage I feel I had to go through, but since falling in love, discovering feminism, graduating from university and settling into my perfect job, I feel like a new person, and part of that has influenced the way I dress. It sounds silly, but I’ve also grown to not only accept, but celebrate my skin colour, and embrace my differences, two of them being that bright tones flatter my (newly natural) hair and fitted clothing flatters my bodyshape. It’s pretty simple when you look at it really – I’ve developed that thing they call confidence. In one way or another, the internet has become a huge part of this, whether it be admiring the work of other bloggers or simply exploring new styles through pinterest, etsy and instagram.

And so we look at the clothes themselves. I’ve adored the colours and prints and cuts of the 60s and 70s for a long time, but always from afar, never quite believing that I was the sort of girl who could wear those things. The truth? Over the last year, I’ve built that girl. And so my style has changed. Now, everytime I get dressed for a vintage fair or dress up in a loud frock, I think of the era my grandparents came to this country, the decades my mum lived through as a teenager, how exciting that growing liberation must have felt at the time. I feel closer than I have ever felt to my heritage and the history that has brought me to this point. We all know that this is the era currently experiencing it’s swansong, which I think is what Kevin meant when he suggested that I’ve become influenced by trends, but I don’t think that’s a coincidence – I think it’s a sign of the days we’d rather remember, the fashion that mattered when it was important to show the world exactly who you were.

I don’t believe it’s a sin to enjoy fashion, and nor do I believe that my tastes won’t change again as I get older, more knowlegadable about vintage or perhaps just change my mind entirely. Fashion tastes should always be an entirely fluid thing – that’s the fun of it right, learning to find your own style? Being a trend-follower is no bad thing as long as you allow your true spirit to show through while you shop. Wear the things you love and that make you feel happy when you pull them on in the morning. Wear the things you’ve admired from afar but don’t feel brave enough to try. Wear the things you fell in love when you saw them on bloglovin. And never, ever be afraid to admit that you’re no longer the person you were a year before. My boyfriend might have been teasing me when he called me a 'trend follower', but god knows he's as happy as I am now I have a smile on my face everytime I get dressed.  

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