As we move into the fall fashion season here in the northern hemisphere, I’ve noticed many YouTube videos and blog posts popping up about the new fall trends and how to transition from summer to fall clothing. Although I sometimes consume this type of content, it also tends to rub me the wrong way. I don’t like the idea of changing the way I dress simply because of a date on the calendar, and I also don’t like the presupposition that everyone wants to wear the new trends (or should want to wear them).
Not only do the temperatures remain high where I live well into the fall season, I also don’t see the need to switch out my wardrobe based upon certain items being deemed “in” and others “out.” In today’s post, I’ll share some of my thoughts about fashion trends and seasonal dressing.
Fall in August?
Let’s start with the less “loaded” topic: seasonal dressing. There’s a practical way of looking at this issue, and there’s a much more arbitrary way of approaching it. I’m in complete favor of dressing for the weather that one is experiencing regardless of the time of year. If it’s hot out, wearing lighter weight clothing and fewer layers makes perfect sense, and it’s also practical to layer up and wear thicker garments in colder weather.
But what makes zero sense to me is needing to switch up what we wear just because it’s now September. First of all, fall doesn’t even begin until this Thursday, but I’ve been seeing videos and blog posts about fall for over a month now! I know some people mark Labor Day as the unofficial end of summer, but that season actually extends more than two weeks beyond that date. Secondly, it remains hot in many locales (including where I live) well into October – and sometimes even November. I remember celebrating a very hot Thanksgiving one year – no jacket required!
I can totally understand becoming bored with one’s warm weather wardrobe after wearing it for months on end and wanting to start wearing different pieces. That’s completely understandable, but if you’re still happy in your summer clothes and the temperatures remain high, I see no reason to start wearing “fall colors” for the sole reason that the current month ends in “ber.” If you love fall colors and are excited to start wearing them, why not? But I also don’t see why it’s not perfectly okay to wear them year-round if that makes your heart sing.
On Seasonal Colors and Summer Bags
Do that many women really care if they wear seasonal colors? Maybe I’m an outlier here, but I’ve never been one to swap out the colors I wear just because I’ve flipped a page on my wall calendar (yes, I still use those, in addition to my digital calendar). I wear basically the same colors 365 days a year. I may lighten things up a bit in the warmer months, but I wear black as often in the summer as I do in the winter.
Part of my reason for wearing somewhat lighter colors in the summer relates to what’s available to buy. There are lots of lighter-colored summer items for sale in the stores, and paler shades are for sure cooler when the sun is beating down on us. But I continue to love and wear black and other dark tones even when the temperatures rise. I wear the colors that make me happy as much as possible, and I’m in favor of others doing the same, no matter what the online style “experts” say.
I also don’t feel the need to carry a straw bag in the summer. While I have admired and appreciated such bags on others, they’re not in line with my style aesthetic, so I’ve never purchased one. I’ve also never bought white or other light-colored pants, as I prefer to play down the size of my lower half with darker bottoms. If unlike me, you love straw bags and white pants, of course you should carry/wear them in the summer – or any time of the year for that matter.
I don’t see the reason why we should need a completely different bag for July versus January. I also don’t see why one shouldn’t wear white pants in January if they love wearing them. If you want to switch things up and enjoy doing so, that’s great, but I hate that some women feel obligated to do so because bloggers and YouTubers make them feel hopelessly out of style or even “frumpy” (a worse word than the other F-word, in my opinion) if they don’t.
Who’s the “They” That Sales Associates are Talking About?
Now on to a “meatier” and potentially more controversial topic: fashion trends. It’s no secret that I enjoy shopping, but sometimes I find sales associates at retail stores annoying. When I’ve inquired about certain types of garments, I’ve often been regaled with statements about what “they’re” wearing, which generally runs counter to what I’ve asked for. One example that I experienced multiple times was when I was trying to find full-length, straight-leg jeans. I was told that what “they’re” wearing was either skinny jeans or cropped jeans, neither of which I wanted. Skinny jeans have never looked good on my body type, and cropped jeans tend to hit me at an unflattering point and look like “floods.”
I don’t mind trends, as it would be boring if the same styles continued to proliferate year after year with little to no variation. Sometimes it’s nice to try something new and shake up my style a bit. There have been times when I was pleasantly surprised to like something that had little to no “hanger appeal” for me. I’ve also liked certain pieces on my body more than I ever expected to. For those reasons, I don’t mind when a salesperson brings me a few random garments to try on. We often don’t know what we might like until we give something new a try.
What I do mind is when the new trends are virtually all we can find in the stores and even online. This is even more the case for those of us who need special sizes that are already very limited in supply. In recent years, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to find non-trendy pant styles and shapes in the long inseams that I need. I was simply out of luck with finding jeans for many years because skinny jeans were all that were available, especially in tall sizes. Yes, there were some online retailers who carried alternate silhouettes, but their size range was limited and didn’t include talls.
When straighter and wider-legged styles started to become trendy again more recently, I rejoiced at first. But then I saw that such jeans were all ultra-high-rise, which doesn’t work on my short-waisted frame. Those high rises typically come up to the bottom of my rib cage, which is both uncomfortable and unflattering.
Have I Become a Big Old Prude?
Sigh… Am I becoming a big old prude or have trends become even more ubiquitous than they used to be? I tried to shop for some new tops recently, but almost everything on offer (that wasn’t a super basic tee) had puff sleeves and/or a sea of ruffles. With my broad shoulders, I look like a linebacker in puff sleeves, and abundant ruffles are not in line with my personal style aesthetic. I prefer a cleaner and more minimalist silhouette in my tops (and pretty much everything that I wear).
The bottom line is that I don’t care all that much about trends. I don’t care what “they’re” wearing. I care about what I want to wear! I don’t begrudge those who want to stay “current” and keep up with the latest trends, but I wish there were more choices in the shopping landscape for those who prefer to wear styles and silhouettes that aren’t exactly on the cutting edge of fashion.
I think there are actually far more women with my mindset than those who want to keep up with all of the trends. I think a lot of women want to be able to go to a store (either in person or online) and purchase the styles they prefer, even if that means they might look hopelessly out of style to the five percent or so of the population who view Vogue’s September Issue as a sort of fashion bible.
What’s “In Style” Often Doesn’t Suit Our Needs or Desires
I don’t want the “fashion gods” to tell me what to wear. I don’t want to wear miniskirts or ultra-flared skirts because they’ve been deemed to be “in style.” It’s not like my figure has changed such that those styles will suddenly be flattering on me. This was the case for me with skinny jeans, which never looked good on me, either. I tried on many pairs during the years when they were virtually all that was available in the stores, but I always thought they made my bottom half look like an ice cream cone. I also found the way they clung to my knees and calves to be quite uncomfortable, especially when I sat down. I longed for the straight-leg and bootcut styles that better flattered my shape, but I couldn’t find them for years, especially in the longer inseams that I needed. So, I made do with my old tired jeans until they were practically threadbare.
I’ve recently been able to find a few pairs of jeans that work better for me, but I’ve had to search long and hard to find styles that didn’t bump up against my ribcage. Sadly, my previous favorite brand of jeans (Lucky Brand) stopped carrying longer inseams, so I had to find other workable options. Fortunately, I’ve been able to find midrise jeans in my desired silhouettes with long enough inseams at Old Navy, Gap, and J. Jill, plus my recent weight loss meant that I could once again wear two old pairs of Lucky jeans that were still in good shape in my holding zone.
I wish that trends would be just part of the fashion buffet instead of almost all of it. I wish that they would be offered in addition to older styles instead of as replacements for them. I wish we would be able to find more style options both in stores and online. I’d also love for more stores to carry tall, petite, and plus sizes. Yes, it’s great if these sizes can be acquired online, but it’s helpful to be able to try them on in person because we can’t always determine if garments will work for us when they’re either way too short or way too long.
Those women who wear larger sizes experience even greater challenges than those of us who need petite or tall sizes. Unfortunately, they’re often relegated to only one or two stores in a large mall, as the other stores leave them out entirely. This makes shopping much more difficult and upsetting, but some stores have recently made positive changes. Old Navy now offers all their clothing styles in sizes 0 to 30, and I believe all sizes are available both online and in their stores. J. Jill also expanded their size offerings up to a 4X and now carries up to size 2X in their stores. More changes are of course necessary, but it’s nice to see the shifts that are taking place regarding size offerings.
I Almost Stopped Wearing Skirts Completely
On to another trend example… For years, I didn’t buy skirts because the only styles available either didn’t suit my figure or my personal style. If I didn’t want to wear a short skirt or a pencil skirt, I was out of luck. My skirt collection dwindled down to almost nothing in recent years, as pieces wore out and my body and preferences changed. I was almost going to stop wearing skirts altogether, but this year I started noticing skirts that I liked at the stores once again. As a result, I’ve added a few new skirts to my collection, as well as several new tops to supplement my existing small capsule of shorter tops to pair with skirts.
I’m taking advantage of this window of opportunity of the skirt trends aligning with my preferences, as I know it may well be followed by another long stretch in which the only available skirts are ones that look horrible on me. Despite being happier about the current skirt styles, though, it was difficult to find a black midi skirt that worked well for me. I saw very few in the brick-and-mortar stores, so I had to play the e-commerce buy-and-return game to satisfy this item on my wish list.
I must have purchased at least twelve black skirts in my quest for just one that meets my needs! It’s so frustrating when online listings and photos don’t accurately portray an item. Most of the midi skirts I received were too much of an exaggerated A-line style, which accentuates my proportionately larger bottom half (not something I want to do…). These fuller skirts must be “in” at the moment, but they’re not right for me.
My persistence finally paid off, but I feel bad about all the buying and returning that I did in the process. I return things locally as much as possible, but there still are a lot of delivery trucks coming to my house, which isn’t ideal. I wish that online listings were more accurate, and I also wish that retailers had a wider array of styles and silhouettes for sale so that women could more easily find what we prefer to wear.
Style Bloggers and YouTubers Focus Predominantly on Trends
Almost every style blogger and YouTuber out there talks about what “they’re” wearing. They also share regular posts and videos about what’s out of style and should be banished from our closets. I read the comments of one such video last week and felt bad for a commenter who expressed sadness about having to get rid of a camouflage jacket she loves because apparently camo is now “out” (ironically, I’m wearing camo joggers as I type this post!).
How many people even know what’s “in” or “out” unless they’ve watched a video or read an article or blog post that told them so? And why shouldn’t the woman I mentioned above embrace her camo jacket until it falls apart if she still loves it? So what if maybe 5% of women will shake their heads upon seeing her in something that was ultra-trendy last season but is now “out” just because a Miranda Priestly-like figure (“The Devil Wears Prada” reference) tells her so?
I could never be a mainstream style blogger because I don’t really care about trends and I don’t really care about swapping out my style for either spring or fall. I dress based on the weather and my activities rather than what month it is, and I wear what I like rather than what I’ve been told I should like and wear. If others see me and think that I’m out of style, “dated,” or God forbid, “frumpy,” then so be it. If what I’m wearing makes me happy, then I’m going to keep wearing it. If it doesn’t make me happy, that’s when I’ll look to make a change.
It’s taken me many years to hone a personal style that feels authentic and attractive to me. Of course, that style will continue to evolve, and what I see around me will likely impact that evolution. I don’t want to look like someone who belongs on “What Not to Wear,” but I think there’s a lot of wiggle room between that and a woman who is decked out in trends. I don’t begrudge those who want to keep up with trends, but I hate the fact that some women feel that they must do so in order to be attractive or acceptable. I appreciate those who hone and express their individual and authentic personal style, and I would like all of us to feel the freedom to do so.
How to Take Advantage of Trends and Still Honor Your Style
I would also like for there to be a lot more options freely available for us to purchase, but since that’s not likely to happen anytime soon, I guess the best we can do is take advantage of those times when the trends work in our favor. If the colors, styles, and silhouettes that you prefer become trendy, that’s the time to stock up on them, like I’m doing now with skirts. It doesn’t mean we should go “hog-wild” shopaholic style, but since we don’t know when our favored styles will be prevalent again, we should buy at least a few of them to hold us over.
I have the same recommendation when it comes to colors and patterns. If the hues and prints that you love are “au courant,” you should happily snap them up (within reason, of course). I’m lucky that my favorite pattern is stripes because they never seem to truly go out of style. However, I didn’t see a lot of pieces in my beloved cobalt shade out there for a few years, and now I’m seeing them again. So, I look forward to purchasing a few cobalt items to wear and enjoy.
The fashion world may never truly meet our needs, but we can learn how to work around it as best as possible. There will be times of both feast and famine in terms of the colors, styles, and silhouettes that work best for us. Some women will be adventurous and dive into new trends headlong, but for the rest of us, we’ll just have to pick the ones we like and leave the rest. Sometimes we won’t like any of them, and those are the times to buy less and wear what we have.
Don’t worry about being a “fashion don’t” because most people won’t know the difference anyway. I personally admire those who march to the beat of their own drum, in style and in other respects. If you love a camo jacket or an infinity scarf (also supposedly “out” now), keep on wearing it proudly. Try not to let fashion boss you around. After all, it’s supposed to be fun…
Clearly, I had a lot to say about the topics of fashion trends and seasonal colors, but now I’d love to get your thoughts… Please feel free to comment on any of the subjects and opinions that I shared in today’s post. I look forward to reading what you have to say, even if you disagree with me.
I hope to be back sooner with my next post. As we move into the final months of 2022 (how can that be?!), I plan to write a few essays related to the state of my wardrobe, including my favorite pieces (back to the “rule of ten” concept that I introduced last May) and my closet “benchwarmers” (a concept I first wrote about way back in 2013!). As always, I welcome any questions you have for me, as well as your suggestions for upcoming posts.