Killing The Microtrend Monster

source: chaukareaul, lisa says gah, reformation, adobe

by Altea

The microtrend monster – the modern fashion scourge. As addicting as it is harmful, it has half the fashion conscious world aggressively buying up certain pieces of clothing, only for them to be scrapped entirely within a few months. Traditionally, popular pieces go in and out of style over the span of several years, rather than 3-5 business days. Not to sound like a boomer, but it’s almost certainly a consequence of the lifestyle that the Internet has given the modern teenager – high-speed, low-stakes, low attention span. It can take an insane amount of willpower to stand up to your inner moth drawn to the flame of fast fashion that chants the words, “Buy! Buy! Buy! Buy!” into your ear 24/7. Well I’m the angel on your shoulder, here to counteract that inner moth. Here’s the truth. The sooner we quit microtrends, the better everyone will feel. Maybe the inner longing for the next piece of cheaply made fad would be replaced by a sense of inner contentment with your self-expression. Or not, who knows? Regardless, I’m here to teach you how to quit the addiction of microtrends, and maybe also materialism as well while we’re at it. 

To be able to beat the microtrends, you have to be able to spot the signs. To do so, let’s look at a few of my favorite examples. One of the absolute best (or worst) examples of this are the Amazon corsets that went around the indie fashion circuit in March of 2021. I almost fell prey to this one, so don’t feel ashamed. But every day I get more and more glad that I didn’t. Think about the last time you saw someone wearing one. Think about the judgement you’d probably feel if you saw someone wearing one now, in September. It hasn’t even been six months since they were at their peak. A more topical example that may surprise you is the Vivienne Westwood pearl necklace. Literally everyone has this now, so it no longer seems glamorous and chic. If hordes are people are buying up a specific article of clothing or accessory purely because everyone else is doing it, that’s a red flag, and a sign that you probably should steer clear.  There’s endless examples – the Brandy Melville sweater that Tate Langdon wore in American Horror Story, fuzzy animal print bags (my biggest flex is that I’ve always found those totally atrocious) patchwork jeans, square sunglasses, chunky rings, it literally goes on and on, and with fast fashion websites like Shein and Romwe sinking their claws into these trends, it’s affordable and easy to acquire these pieces, at the cost of the planet. But it can be harder to spot them when the trends are more about a whole style instead of a specific piece. A major red flag is if these trends are based off of or idolize a specific person, real or fictional. Major examples are the whole Lana Del Rey Born to Die album cover craze that hit over the summer, and the impending Bella Swan/Elena Gilbert/vampire girlfriend rush of the fall. Usually these trends appear after some form of media is released to the general public (Chemtrails Over the Country Club being released, the Twilight movies coming out on Netflix.) Quarantine has really only made it exponentially worse. The only people we’re wearing our clothes for are our parents, friends, and the walls of our house. Not being able to go out and show your clothes off to the world makes them seem boring faster. I have a feeling that this obsession with microtrends will continue even after things get back to normal, but I sincerely hope I’m wrong. Here’s a few tips to avoid the pull of the microtrends once you’ve discovered them for what they are.

  1. Choose pieces that won’t go out of style

This can be hard when the microtrend is more about the specific piece than the overall style, but not impossible. The key here is really to imagine wearing this piece with other clothes that are part of a different style. How adaptable is it? There’s nothing worse than buying a piece of clothing and then six months later you can’t wear it outside without looking like you’re totally culturally ignorant about how fashion works. You’re either embarrassed or you wasted money. Middle schoolers were invented to dress two trends behind everyone else, but not everyone has one of those to throw their hand-me-downs at, so it either rots in your closet or goes to Goodwill. 

Let’s look at low-rise jeans. These are a piece of clothing that you can buy in an attempt to look like Bella Swan, but can easily be used for multiple aesthetics. If you want to pursue a glitzy Y2K Paris Hilton style, you can. You can even use them for model off-duty, as after all, Bella Hadid was spotted in a pair of low-rise jeans and a button-up white shirt recently. The same goes for lace camis. They can be used for multiple aesthetics, and even if they’re not part of the style you’re going for, you’re not going to look stupid wearing them out of the house. 

But on the other hand, look at the Henley tops. These were totally out of style until extremely recently, and when this microtrend passes, will be on the outs again, and you’ll be stuck with a bunch of them and just look extremely stupid if you try to wear them outside of the house. If you’ve got a few lying around from 2012, it’s fine to put them in use now, to try the style out, but buying them would just be a waste of money and effort. 

  1. Diversify your wardrobe 

Contrary to popular belief, no one says you have to, or even should, have a consistent aesthetic. Who’s stopping you from showing up to school in Levi 501s and Air Forces one day, and a cottagecore-style milkmaid dress the next? Tying yourself down to a singular style is a level of commitment that no human is ready for. Why force yourself to conform to a singular way of presenting yourself when you could mix it up everyday?

Intuitive shopping is something that I’m a big proponent of. Like what you like instead of mentally categorizing yourself as dark academia, Y2K, or “kidcore”. Just go to the store and buy the clothes you like. Try things on. Play around. For me, fashion and the way that I present myself causes me a lot of stress, and I feel forced to commit to one style, when no one is forcing me to do anything that I don’t want to do. I’ve always admired people who were able to do that so freely, but that quality isn’t inherently positive or negative. Those people might even be bored with the way that they dress, and look at me, wishing they could be as scattered as I am. The reason why people shift to a totally new aesthetic every few months is because they’re bored. It’s boring to dress the same way every day. So aim for not being bored instead of the “integrity” of your aesthetic.

  1. Find your personal style icons

I know this is contradictory to what I literally just said about how people base their entire aesthetic off of a fictional character or celebrity, but there’s a difference. Find a few people whose style you really appreciate and admire, and mix them. A good choice for doing this is finding a fictional character, an influencer, and a person with a broader style influence, living or dead. I’ve long considered Audrey Hepburn my real person style icon, and allowed her style to affect mine. Using her as a basis helps me to find clothes that I like, as there’s plenty of online resources that provide guides with how to dress like her. My favorite influencer for fashion inspiration is @addyurdaddy on TikTok. I’ve been a fan of her and her style for over 2 years now, and having a fashion inspiration that wears some trends and not others has helped to navigate the perilous microtrend waters. 

Finding fictional inspiration is honestly the hardest part, as my TV show preferences can change at the drop of a hat, so I have several lined up. I know that almost every girl on TikTok has been thinking this too, but Audrey Hope from the new Gossip Girl reboot really catches my eye. I actually hate her as a character, I much prefer Monet, but I really like how she dresses. Another fave of mine is Madison Montgomery from American Horror Story, and Cruella from the new Cruella movie. 

Once you’ve found your style inspiration, you can use this to narrow down your microtrend preferences. Ask yourself if your style icons would be caught dead in these, and go from there. This is a very helpful way to maintain a personal style, and to be able to tell the difference between genuine preferences and following the masses. There’s nothing wrong with being basic until it starts to negatively impact the fashion world, which as of now, it is. 

Microtrends aren’t just annoying, there’s also obvious environmental and financial repercussions for them. Fast fashion is made only worse by the rate that clothing is being bought and sold these days. Clothing ends up in the thrift stores weeks after it’s originally purchased. Anyone who’s been thrifting recently has to have noticed the increase in Shein, Romwe, and other fast fashion brands. Activists who campaign for climate justice and continue to overhaul their wardrobe weekly at Shein need a serious reality check. People who can’t afford to shop anywhere but Shein aren’t changing their aesthetic at the speed of light. 

Major fashion brands can’t keep up with the trends, so it can be hard to find things that are genuinely trending at mall stores, sending the prospective shoppers straight to Shein. The sooner we all stop buying into microtrends, the better off everyone is going to be.

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