The New Daily

Why we need to start ignoring fashion ‘trends’

After an entire career spent determining what’s “in” and what’s “out”, Kirstie Clements thinks it’s time to move on.

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Trends are a waste of money and time. Photo: Getty

Throughout my career as a Vogue editor, I was constantly asked what was “in”.

Back in the nineties, this was relatively easy to respond to. The other fashion editors and I would have travelled to the ready to wear shows in Milan and Paris, and dutifully noted down all the trends. We would have then relayed what we saw to the staff back at the office

“Metallic is very important, seen here at Chanel, soft suiting and flat shoes at Armani, black, oversized silhouettes at Comme de Garcons,” we would say.

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We would hold on to this secret information for six months, while we prepared the issues that would eventually deliver the reader the news.

We were all about trends. We could literally go to an event and declare to women, “Ultra short skirts are back” and they would all either smile or groan and then promptly start wearing them.

'It' girls clamour to get their hands on the newest styles. Photo: Getty

‘It’ girls clamour to get their hands on the newest styles. Photo: Getty

But after a few years of noticing the same but slightly different trends returning over and over to the runway (“Plaid for fall. Seventies. Spanish ruffles”) and then appraising what women wear in their actual day-to-day lives I realised trends are fun, but most often irrelevant.

So, instead of replying, “Wide-leg trousers and baby doll dresses,” when I was asked what was in, I tended to just say, “Anything you like and feel good in”.

The relentless quest for the new is what makes fashion so exciting, and the massive amount of choice out there means that no matter what you put on, you will never look out of date. You’ll just look different.

It’s so easy to skip a trend you don’t like nowadays, because there is such a vast array of alternatives, which certainly wasn’t the case for our mothers and grandmothers. Or even for my generation.

It's hard (and expensive) to keep up with what's hot and what's not. Photo: Getty

It’s hard (and expensive) to keep up with what’s hot and what’s not. Photo: Getty

When I was fifteen, I began dressing like a punk and I really had to get inventive. There were no skinny jeans available, we had to buy Levi’s and run them in at home on the sewing machine.

It was even impossible to buy black jeans for women – for years we dyed them ourselves. If I went out to buy a pair of jeans today, I would suggest there are literally hundreds of styles and labels to choose from.

I also stopped paying attention to trends as I became older and wiser.

The Balenciaga Lariat bag was a must-have, but now looks out-of-date. Photo: Getty

The Balenciaga Lariat bag was a must-have, but now looks out-of-date. Photo: Getty

The ‘It’ bag phenomenon of the early 2000s was a wake up call. Huge sums of money were being spent on whatever was deemed “the handbag of the moment”, which would promptly change by the time you got your next Amex bill.

I watched girls pay $2000 they couldn’t afford for a Balenciaga Lariat bag which then had to be put away in the cupboard, forever, once Lindsay Lohan started carrying one.

Then there was the showy Balmain jacket with the super sharp extended shoulder pads that was insanely covetable for about one year, cost almost one year’s salary and which then disappeared in a puff of bugle beads when the designer moved on, never to be seen again.

Balmain's dramatic shoulder pads and embellished clothing were expensive and short-lived. Photo: Getty

Balmain’s dramatic shoulder pads and embellished dresses were expensive and short-lived. Photo: Getty

Once you have kids, a mortgage and financial responsibilities, you can’t lose your mind over every irrational dictate the fashion world releases. That’s when classics really come into play, and you find yourself buying things that you like, rather than items that are “in”.

This is the way to really build a successful, timeless wardrobe, and not waste money. It doesn’t mean boring, and of course you can inject a new season shoe, or a piece of jewellery to make you feel on trend if you wish.

My mantra is: If you really love something, and you feel good in it, then you’re always en pointe.

For more from Kirstie Clements, click here.

  • Dean R Frenkel

    Wonderful and timely piece and many compliments to Kirstie Clements for speaking out. There is a communistic one-party-state-of-mind to fashion; the industry is built on dodgy and exploitative foundations and outright thievery – but it is the desperately dumb followers that concern most. Surely human sheep should command a lesser right to vote. Independent thinking is refreshing, zombie armies of followers are depressing.

    • Gus

      There is however one constant that seems to have persisted throughout my life, and that is narrow-toed high heels. I wonder when girls will realise that they are appalling for their posture and sets in place a musculoskeletal growth pattern which is almost unalterable as we age. 1. They cause arthritis in the ankles as the weight bearing angle is changed negatively from the optimally evolved flat footed position. 2. The narrow toes cause bunions and drop the arches, which affects the posture and in particular the lower back very badly. They cause difficulty in child birth by narrowing and tilting the hips in a position which is unnatural to delivery of infants. I see what dreadful feet and posture older people have, not due to ageing itself – look in any old age institution – There are even women in their eighties who have to have prosthetic high heels because their achilles are too short. When will the fashion industry realise they’re feeding this horrible blight on women which is akin to the old Japanese foot-binding convention. The problem also occurs for men in pointy designed shoes – only slightly less so because they have less high heels. Nonetheless only when significant fashion celebrities start addressing this issue and the industry start moving away from stilettos will they be acting with some element of integrity – until then the entire industry is a multibillion con.

  • Chris Watson

    Fashion is wealth display. Having different styles of clothing for different categories of outing and having clothing that is obviously new, makes the wearer, and the man with her, look rich. Looking good is really a matter of looking rich.
    The beaded Balenciaga jacket looked rich as long as it was less than 12 months old. After that it looked a year old and therefore no longer looked rich.
    Obvious trends are necessary for the fashion industry to make profits. They are planned obsolescence. Why would anyone fork out for new clothes if they don’t look new and therefore richer. You may as well keep wearing the clothes you already have. The function of trends is to ensure that clothes a year old are identifiable as being exactly that – a year old, or better still, two years old.
    Centuries ago, in Europe, a plump woman was sexy. She looked richer than the underfed women who had to work for a living. This is still the case in the rural areas of undeveloped parts of the world.
    When most people worked outdoors, a pale skin was sexy because it showed that its owner did not have to work. Which made the man with her look good. By the 20th century, most people worked indoors during the daylight hours, so to be slim and have a suntan showed that you had the leisure to play sport, exercise outdoors or just lie in the sun in Majorca.
    The same logic was behind footbinding in China. Semi crippled wives and daughters made a man look rich. The disabled state of the women in his family showed that he didn’t need women who were capable of manual labour. The same goes for long, well cared for, fingernails. The Chinese went for extremes, but the function of long fingernails is still the same in Western societies.
    We buy new clothes, if not to look rich, then at least, to not look poor. To wear an obviously out of style dress is the equivalent of wearing a jumper with a hole in the elbow or a broken shoe.

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