The world of fashion is ever-evolving and fast moving.
What's in, what's out, what's relevant and what's outdated is subject to change in what can seem like the blink of an eye.
Thus, every day we are bombarded by brands. We notice the alluring advertising and eye the glossy spreads within the pages of Vogue. We pass by pristine window displays and drown in promotional emails.
We're desensitized to it all to some degree, due to overstimulation and a sheer inundation of information.
If we were unwittingly convinced to purchase every line of mascara and push-up bra advertised to us, Maybelline and Victoria's Secret would sit at the top of the Fortune 500 rankings.
We simply cannot keep up with it all.
In the fashion industry, it's more than a matter of a smart campaign, product differentiation or promoting calculated consumer decisions; it's about influence.
The one key motivator, the simple factor that reigns supreme in influencing us to buy and consume, is other people.
People are so incredibly influential in this industry that retail giants Lululemon and Spanx were both able to amass cult followings while employing virtually zero traditional advertising.
Our perception of what is and isn't in fashion is defined by popularity. We covet the things of our friends and neighbors.
We covet that which is well-received by the masses.
We notice a great number of others sporting a particular product or trend, and suddenly, we perceive it as cool and desirable.
Some dub this mentality, "Keeping up with the Joneses." I call it trend-chasing.
You can identify the trend-chasing phenomenon when you walk through a college campus and think you're seeing double, triple, quadruple — no, hundreds of the same outfit.
You can recognize the trend-chasing phenomenon by the number of David Yurman rings or smug, embroidered pink whales at a party.
Or, you might notice it on social media, like recently, when a particular designer's collaboration with Target sold out in a mere matter of minutes after launching.
There's nothing wrong with chasing the trends, being influenced by our friends or even shamelessly becoming a popular brand's top customer.
There's nothing wrong with buying something that everyone else already owns if you like it, too.
But I think there is an issue when we feel that we need to be trend chasers in order to stack up against our peers and ultimately, put a value on ourselves in society.
I think we tend to feel that trend-chasing is the one-way ticket to being fashionable, as it allows us to fit in.
We tend to think that if our look doesn't perfectly align with what's popular, we're doing it wrong.
This mentality is where stereotypes like being "basic" originate. To be a trend-chaser is to essentially be basic.
Yes, you're fitting in, and yes, fitting in might equate to being cool.
But, I think the coolest and best-dressed individuals are the ones who embrace the fundamental attributes of fashion: Creativity and originality.
Aren't you fascinated by the woman who tries new looks before they become trends?
Don't you feel drawn to the girl who stands out, but does it right and looks amazing? She's not a trend chaser; she's a fashionista.
Trend-chasing is not fashion. It exists under the umbrella of fashion, but it is an entirely separate and distinct entity.
Trends exist as the quick-moving and short-lived component of fashion. Fashion itself is slower and more enduring.
While it's not wrong to be a trend chaser, if you follow trends your entire life, you will never reap the opportunity to truly identify your own unique style.
And, I want that for you because you are unique. You're much more than the summation of society, boiled down to one little b-word.
Here's how to differentiate trend-chasing from fashion, so we can quit trend-chasing, once and for all:
Trend-chasing is seeking what's "hot," fashion is seeking a timeless sense of style.
A true fashionista doesn’t obsess over the trends that so quickly fall in and out of style.
She knows fashion is much more than a snapshot of which bags, sandals and lipstick shades are "in" at any given moment.
A true fashionista knows and follows (and purposely breaks, from time to time) the fundamentals of fashion.
She knows how to mix and match prints, which fabrics pair well with others and how to layer a look.
She knows which cuts and styles flatter her body shape, and she knows when to step away from a trend that doesn't fit into her unique look.
Trends sweep the nation fast and furiously. As quickly as they are able to pervade society, they will become eyesores and tired.
When the majority of us are trend chasers, the trends become a uniform. And suddenly, they're no longer cool.
They become tired and outdated very, very quickly because it's all we see, everywhere we look.
The fundamentals of fashion, conversely, have a long life span.
This means that a fashionista doesn't need to rely on fast trends to be assured that her look is up-to-date and put together.
Rather, she can walk into a second-hand store, a Goodwill even, and walk out with a new look.
She can wear the same skirt seven different ways. She can take a hand-me-down that is pushing 20 years old and make it new.
She can, and does, think outside the box with her look.
She understands that when you place your focus on the fundamentals, you don't have to constantly play catch up, and you don't have to sacrifice all the trends, either.
Rather, trends become supplements instead of staples. They're incorporated after the fact, rather than acting as the basis or foundation of a look.
Trend-chasing is easy, fashion takes practice.
Nobody is born a style star. Nobody comes out of the womb with an innate understanding of the fashion world.
Fashion is a tricky thing to master because it's both a science and an art. It's subjective, but it also has rules.
Having a real sense of fashion and being able to cultivate your own look is not effortless (although, it will appear effortless, if done correctly). It takes trial and error, risks and major flops.
Trend-chasing, on the other hand, is easy because trends are ubiquitous.
It eliminates the guesswork because by piling on what's popular, you know it will work. You have the safety net of knowing you can't mess up.
A true fashionista will never throw on a bunch of "it" items and styles and call it a day.
Her ensembles are much more deliberate and thoughtful than that. She may even see that practice as "cheating" in a sense.
Trend-chasing drains your wallet, fashion doesn't have to.
Even if you avoid splurging on exorbitant designer pieces, trend-chasing is still a costly, unending pursuit that will ultimately empty your piggy bank.
Due to the fast-paced nature of trends, keeping up with them will add up, even if you're purchasing on the low-end.
Inexpensive, fast-fashion stores, like Forever 21 or H&M, operate and thrive on this very concept.
Their business model calls for the mass production of super trendy pieces at low prices, allowing consumers to feel like they can keep up on the styles without making a major dent in their wallets.
What many don't realize is that this practice adds up over time.
Fashion doesn't have to impact your budget or drain your savings in a major way.
When you quit trend-chasing and learn fashion, you'll gain the ability to take what you already have in your closet and repurpose it for fresh looks.
You'll develop an eye for the basic pieces that you need and the discernment for the trends that will live fast and die young.
Your wallet will thank you.
Trend-chasing is about quantity, fashion is about quality.
Fashion allows the time to invest in pieces that will last through the years because of its timeless nature.
This makes fundamental fashion purchases less of a splurge and more of an investment.
Classic, quality pieces are worth the investment because they are built to last, both in their physical form and in their style.
Think a crisp oxford shirt that doesn't excessively wrinkle, or a sturdy pair of boyfriend jeans with the perfect amount of slouch and whiskering detail.
Quantity comes with the territory of trend-chasing. However, trend-chasing is not limited to the Forever 21 or H&M business model, as described above.
It can just as easily involve the pursuit of high-priced, designer items, which can make the distinction between quality fashion pieces and quality trendy pieces a bit murky.
To differentiate, I think it comes down to motive and status. Trend chasers might be more motivated by the status of a designer item, while fashionistas are motivated by the quality of the designer item.
Are you drawn to a particular piece because others have it? If nobody would know, would you consider purchasing the knock-off version of a trendy item to save some money?
I think it speaks volumes to motive when a designer item has a large knock-off presence.
What that tells me is the motivation is not quality. Purchasing a knock-off nullifies the argument that designer products are purchased solely for high quality.
It tells me that the designer brands are more valued for the status of them. You're essentially paying for the label.
If someone is willing to buy the knock-off version, it’s not about buying a great quality item that will last forever, it’s about the status; it's about trend-chasing.
Trend-chasing is about fitting in with others, fashion is about expressing individuality.
The fascination with a fashionista is in part due to her confidence and in part, her individuality. These qualities give her a certain distinct appeal.
She marches to the beat of her own drum, unafraid to try new looks and entertain fresh ideas.
She understands that fashion isn't about blending in. You'll never see her wearing the same, tired outfits as everyone else.
She knows fashion is about playing up personal taste and individuality. She knows fashion is an outlet to express oneself.
While trend chasers see fashion as an apples-to-apples endeavor, the fashionistas understand it as apples to oranges because each person is too different to compare.
As the overarching waves of fashion ebb and flow, and the trends race by in a blur, free your inner fashionista and tap into your individual style.
A true sense of fashion is enduring, and a true sense of fashion is uniquely you.