4 Sep 2012

Fashion Trends… Fashion Cycles?

Guinevere in yellow dress, Paris 1996… Photographer, Paolo Roversi

 This past weekend, in London, I went shopping with one of my daughters…  I love hearing her take on what’s hot and what’s not…  her eye is sharp and I admire her sense of fashion…. she knows how to enjoy fashion, have fun with it and not take it too seriously. I also appreciate her truthfulness… her very incisive… ‘you must’ or her very spot on,  ‘I don’t think so’… We were talking about this season’s must haves… the clothes and the shoes… the different looks that we were coveting… when we started talking about ‘trends’.

‘There is no such thing as a trend’, she said.

‘This season’s trends look exactly the same as last winter’s trends’… she mused. As we wandered around, looking at the ‘trends’ for this coming winter we both agreed that the styles are no more than repetitive fashion cycles… This is no revelation to a grown up fashion junkie like me but I was surprised that my 23 year old daughter had joined the dots… and appreciated that there is nothing much that is new in the fashion world. Perhaps it is because fashion these days offers so much more choice… it is less rigid and more individual. It would seem to me that I have been wearing the same ‘look’ for years… and while the colours may change, the hems might dip and rise or the trouser legs widen and narrow… There is nothing in my wardrobe that hasn’t been there before in some familiar way.

Fashion is not exactly about trends, because the word ‘trend’ suggests something original, different… a ‘trend’ is meant to take us off piste and lead us in another direction. I believe fashion is about cycles… cycles of colour, of shape… cycles that reflect the world we live in… our economics and our politics. The beauty of fashion cycles for the mature woman is that they are familiar… Most of us, by now, know what works for us… We understand how to interpret ‘the look of the season’ to our personalities and body shapes… because in all probability we have worn it before. With the knowledge that fashion is a cyclical business has come my understanding or my own ‘rules’ of what to buy…  My daughter had never thought about shopping with these ideas in mind… She has always simplified choices down to… liking, suitability and affordability… never long term consequences. I try to buy well… a mixture of ‘investment’ pieces and good basics. I have fun with the basics and endeavour to stick to my ‘rules’ with the investment pieces…

My shopping mantra goes something like this…

1. A piece must not be a duplicate of what I have at home… How often do we buy exactly the same thing? I have been so guilty of that particular fashion crime… over and over… I reach for yet another LBD… only to realise that I have one in my cupboard that is so similar…

2. A piece must look better than anything I already own… There is no point buying an expensive item if, at home, I have one that looks better on me. I have to be ruthless… because I know that if it isn’t different, edgier or more flattering… I will always revert to my old faithful. I have to be certain that the piece is a winner.

3. A piece must make up an outfit. No random skirt or jacket that won’t work with what I have already. I forget this sage advice all the time… my closet is full of ‘bright ideas’ that don’t work with anything.

4. A piece must be love at first sight… If it doesn’t sing to me straight up, then it’s not for me.

5. Don’t rush in… there will always be something to love… it’s fashion after all.

Fashion… trends… cycles… my favourite subjects to talk about … nearly as much as France, and all things French… subjects that are not mutually exclusive, as I think many French women would agree with my buying  ‘rules’… French women are the masters of investment dressing and fashion strategy… and most probably, now that I think about it,  responsible for my way of thinking… xv

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53 Comments

La Pouyette - Karin

Very interesting post indeed to our BIO theme, Vicky!

Fashion cycle? Yes! Interestingly – good design will always come back. Like all good things in life.

Greetings from the Périgord,
k

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Catherine

The photo by Paolo Roversi is absolutely stunning, Vicki…I love to shop with my daughter too and I recognise the ‘you must have’ and ‘I don’t think so’ …
I too believe fashion is about cycles…and I have many little black dresses which still after many years look fab and not at all dated…I’ve come full cycle too ;-)!!
Great post, as always.
Catherine
xx

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miss b

Fashion cycles – absolutely true, not only with styles and prints but colours too. I love your fashion mantra and if followed would definitely save a lot of money and there would be no clothes in the wardrobe left unworn! I have similar rules but occasionally still have an impulse buy (usually in the sales) which I later regret or return.
http://missbbobochic.blogspot.co.uk/

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Rosalie Carmichael

Hi Vicki, I also love going shopping with one of my daughters who tells me to go to the dressing room and brings me things which always look perfect. She has such a good eye. I also came across a sales assistant in recent years who directed me to things more suitable and lovely than I had chosen. She made a great sale and I complimented her on the time she had spent with me. her reply was “It was a pleasure to dress you”. And again when I visited the boutique a year later and was attended to by another sales assistant, she gave me the nod on a short coat I had selected but said “that coat will look great with the trousers you brought last time”. What a memory!

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Vicki

A good and interested… and more importantly genuine sales person is a gem…. and not that often available..

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Francine gardner

I am guilty of all the mistakes you point out. I buy in the rush, on impulse and tend to buy the same thing over and over. i love fashion but does not invest time into building a wardrobe. As a result, I own great pieces which i never wear for lack of anything to go with it..

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Jacqueline

You are so right Vicki …….. fashion has always come round in cycles and I can nearly always pull something out that I’ve had for years and, voila, it’s in fashion again !
I love your ‘cycle’ post ….. a brilliant ‘cycle’ for our BIO post and you always give us so many good ideas. I just want you to know that I often act upon the infomation that you give us…..please dont stop !!!!
….and, if you were to look in my wardrobe ( although I wouldn’t let you as it’s a bit squashed up at the moment and needs sorting out !!) you would see so many duplicated pieces !

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Anita Rivera

Bonjour Vicki!

I don’t go with fashion trends. I CAN’T. My body type will not allow it. I am not tall and straight, but built NOT according to the look that is foisted upon us by the media. SO, I wear what looks good on me, I buy very little in terms of clothing, but rather indulge, when I can, in an accessory that stretches out the life of that little black dress I have had since I got married, 30 years ago…yes, I keep my clothing that long as long as it is well kept. Black is a huge part of my wardrobe, simple lines a MUST for a girl with hips larger than her life, but oodles of accessories stuff my drawers!

I believe in staying WHO I AM. No fashion “trends” here!

Enjoy the day! Anita

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Vicki

Knowing what suits us… expresses our personality and pleases us is the way… so well said Anita…

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Caramel et Fleur de Sel

Wonderful post! I love shopping with my daughter as well, she’s only 11. she is learning what she thinks suits her. When she was 8 and younger, she loved skirts/dresses and hated pants. I used to beg her to wear pants. At 10, she hated skirts/dresses and only wore pants. Now at 11, she wears both, but is still more comfortable in pants. She is going through her own fashion cycles.
As for me, I really need to follow your rules! I am such an impulse buyer!

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Heather in Arles

Although I enjoyed your fantastic post this morning (yes, not to mention the swoon-worthy Roversi), I wanted to come back later as I knew this would be quite a conversation starter–and I wasn’t disappointed!!

So much of what you have written and what these amazing women have “confessed” here in the comments ring true. My temptation is not the LBD but the LBJ–do I really need so many black jackets? Especially as I am really and truly not in an even vaguely urban environment anymore? Alas, they are too lovely to part with so I have simply put a moratorium and buying more…but riding boots? Oops.

I agree that your rules are ones that any French woman worth her salt would definitely approve. We all need our Zara fixes to fill out the basics and that is fine but quality trumps every time. The best dressed women that I see here in France look so amazing because they are completely timeless and utterly themselves.

Off to keep discovering the cycles posts! Hooray!

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Vicki

Riding boots and little black jackets… ‘ how do I love thee… let me count the ways’… :)

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Mona Thompson

I’m going to print your list and keep it with me. Started the process of this “Cycle” over the weekend…cleaning out the closet and getting ready for the new season…I have two large trash bags full of things to get rid of…I needed your list a long time ago. XO, Mona

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quintessence

I agree with just about everything. It’s all about finding what suits you and making your existing wardrobe work for the season – usually about adding a few accessories that make it look modern and fresh. Of course I am like you, always attracted to the same things but I am rarely an impulse shopper. I must go home, mull it over etc. – one of the many reasons I shop for my important pieces at a good store – they will put things on hold while I consider. I found so many things this year that I have been looking for for years – perfectly fitting tuxedo pants, a great flowing tie blouse, etc. We’ll see what’s in store for spring at fashion week starting this weekend!!

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Vicki

I love the blouses this season… the femininity of the frills and ties mixed with the sharp tailoring of the pants…

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Teresa @ Splendid Sass

Such truth about trends here, Vicki If I could force myself to keep clothes, I would be set. And shoes for that matter.
Glad that you and your daughter had a nice shopping trip.
Happy Tuesday.
Teresa
xoxo

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Keri Doolittle

I must remember those last 2 rules, especially. My continual pitfall is to flirt too much with sale items. Sigh.. So many things I’ve returned that we’re such a “good deal” only to get them home and find nothing to mix them with.

Timely post! :)

Keri

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Hallie

Beautiful evocative photograph and wise and accurate writing. Daughters are sophisticated, even in their early twenties. She sounds wonderful…and honest and that’s a great pairing.

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Wendi

Guilty, guilty, guilty as charged! I am a fashionista from a LONG way back – studied fashion design, studied footwear design in Milan in my 20’s somethings. Yes, the styles repeat…we are so influenced by what is on the TV (Mad Men), theatres, films, actresses, Kate Middleton and sister Pippa….I remember what was then called “Danish Modern” (my Mom and Dad favoured this and I hated it!) now with a new moniker, “Mid-Century Antique”, it has a new panache and I find myself regretting that certain pieces that my parents had were so reviled by me! I remember platform shoes in the 70’s, the epitome of bad fashion, but they came back re-worked by a new generation and I find myself liking them, even wishing that I was just a tad younger that I could pull that look off….I do not look in my mid-fifties, I do not dress as though I was in my mid-fifties…I might tone-down the current look and interpret it by mixing in my classic go-too’s but I think that is what we are supposed to do – Enjoy the fashion, embrace the look and thank God for Spanx :)!!!!!!!!!!!

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Vicki

Me too… fashion was always my first love… and still is up there with interiors and all things French.. and Spanx!

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Peggy Braswell

I must remember not to buy the most expensive thing in my closet is the thing I don’t wear + not to buy by “sale tag price”. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

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Pamela Terry

Lovely rules to live by. My favourite pieces are often those that I’ve had for years. Finely tailored jackets, finely woven shawls, well made boots…. never seem to go out of style. Your daughter is very wise to understand the triviality of trends.
xo,
p

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Vicki

Like you Pamela, I have a collection of shawls and scarves… that I love and wear… that pre-date my children… They still look as good as new and I still enjoy them just as much… Somethings are worth the investment…

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Jess Flett

I love your shopping Mantra Vicki. Now I need to stabilize my weight. Maybe I can once I finish having children and finally have one wardrobe instead of several for each stage…pre, during and post!! No matter what stage your Mantra is one to shop with!! Maybe one day I’ll be lucky enough to have a daughter who can give me good shopping advice… :) Thanks as always for a great post. Jx

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Vicki

Weight is always a factor in what we wear… it’s funny how a few pounds can totally change our personas..

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Tracy

I break rule #1 for wardrobe basics that can be worn multiple times in a week. For example a dressy t-shirt or blouse in a neutral color that can be dressed up or down and worn with a shirt, slacks or jeans. If it is worn under a blazer, alone, with a scarf etc. it doesn’t look like the same shirt. I don’t have time to do laundry during on most weekdays and these things get dirty and wear out with lots of wear. So sometimes it is nice to have more than one if the quality and fit are good.

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Vicki

Basics are a great idea to repeat… when you find something that works, I agree, double up. It’s the investment pieces that I try and be discerning about…

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Leslie

Isn’t it fun to shop with our daughters and watch them develop their own unique fashion style? I agree.. as we mature we know what works and what doesn’t. My Mother once said that it’s better to have a smaller wardrobe filled with quality pieces rather than purchasing multiple items .. many of which don’t even make an outfit. Those basics (a pencil skirt, the perfect blouse and heels) are worth paying more for. I think it’s natural.. as we mature.. for our fashion sense to evolve.

leslie

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Vicki

I agree Leslie… The classics are always worth paying for… I have a pencil skirt… years old… that I wear every winter… I always feel good in it..

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Garden, Home and Party

Vicki,
Raising sons, I finally have daughter-in-laws that lend some minimal advise on this topic. I’m with you, I have learned, sometimes the hard way, what compliments me and conforms to my sense of style…but its nice to get a nudge to branch out from someone who sees you in something a little out of your comfort zone. Lucky you to have a sweet daughter to provide a few new ideas.
Fun post!
Karen

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Vicki

yes, it is good to be pushed a little from our comfort zones… such a delicate balance finding that line between what works and what doesn’t…

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Marsha @ Splenderosa

When I was your daughter’s age I behaved as she does, though I took it farther and wouldn’t even leave the house unless I was “attired” appropriately. Peer pressure maybe? Now, like you, I know my style and don’t drift. But, even knowing my style does not keep me from making “buying mistakes,” like a sun hat much much much too large to be wearable, or some printed concoction which looks trendy in the shop but in my closet looks out of place. Lovely insight, Vicki, loved every word. You did us proud.

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Jennifer

I love your shopping mantra. Although I too know what works best for me, occasionally “orphans and the occasional imposter” comes home in my shopping bag and I wonder who was I shopping for??

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Melissa

i loved your post, Vicki! how i wish my mother would shop with me. she has no interest in fashion, sadly… i especially love the advice at the end. thoughtful fashion is beautiful, plus it’s a great way to prevent one from spending too recklessly!

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Jen O

Yes, everything you suggest is great. But sometimes it’s hard not to use an event as an excuse to add a new piece. With a wedding to attend, I was planning on finding a new dress to wear, but the little black crepe dress I’ve had for years still looks the best, and I already have the ‘right’ heels and jewelry to go with it. It’s been an exercise in restraint to accept this fact!

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