Fashion Before Style
Despite what Cher Horowitz may have taught us, the idea of a successful shopping trip isn’t a universally homogenous one: For some, it means finally scoring a deal on something you’ve been eyeing for months; for others, it could mean leaving a store with bags in each hand. But for a few, it can mean coming home with nothing but a new idea of how to style something—a major win for anyone who champions their own personal aesthetic over trends.
Still, in a world where the trend cycle rises and falls within the same breath, it’s easy—and often addictive—to fall victim to the wear-it-once mindset that mass retailers capitalize on. Leeann Duggan, a freelance fashion writer in New York City, says that instead of supplying a stylish, conscious shopper with a few items, these big-box stores encourage women to buy an entire look straight off the mannequin, then they “discourage [them] from outfit-repeating, especially in the Instagram age,” Duggan adds. This leads to wholly unmemorable style—the worst kind—that’s just as bad for your wallet as it is the planet. “Everyone tends to start looking the same.”
And Duggan’s right: One major catalyst behind this new-age conspicuous consumption is social media. While most trends used to enjoy long, storied reigns—”Think about the New Look silhouette, which spanned three decades, or miniskirts, which were ‘in’ from the early '60s to the mid-70s,” she recalls, Instagram has put such a spotlight on said trends that they feel tired and formulaic almost instantly, especially when they’re being regurgitated throughout your feed.
The antidote, of course, is a distinct sartorial compass: Instead of buying into trends that peak in popularity then die a quick death this year, those with truly discernible style often rise to to top.
Case in point is Patricia Gutierrez Monllor, the stylist and knitwear designer behind Maggie on the Rocks. She’s gained traction on Instagram by championing smaller, independent brands—and not trying to reinvent the wheel. “My style is deceptively simple,” she says. pointing out that when stores rely solely on trends to sell clothes, they’re playing to the lowest common style-denominator. And beyond the short-sightedness of collecting poorly constructed garments from mass retailers in near-bulk, it’s equally disconcerting to see everyone wearing the same thing.
“It makes your look generic and doesn't tell much about your personality,” Monllor adds. And she has sage advice for anyone struggling to find their own personal style: “Choose items that make you feel excited about them, and think of how versatile they can be. When I buy something I truly like, I tend to want to wear it in every possible way and as often as possible,” she says, which forces her to get creative before she opens her wallet for a cheap rush. “Wear things that reinforce your personality.”
The best way to find these elusive pieces that’ll find a lasting home in your closet? Shop small. Most limited-run brands don’t have the resources to mass-produce items, let alone an entire collection filled with trends that won’t carry into the next season. Take Rebecca Grenell of LACAUSA, an LA-based brand that offers a range of basics at a reasonable price, for instance. She knows it’s harder to make a simple outfit stand out without relying on trends, but she rose to the challenge. “Our customer is aware of trends, as are we, but we focus on the classics that will pair well with anything.” Think:, breezy sundresses, a flattering pair of wide-leg trousers, the perfect lived-in tee you’ll want to wear until it falls apart. “Timeless easy to wear clothes that make you feel good creates an effortless style.” Amen to that.
This tee will stick with you through thick and thin – and every outfit change you make before choosing the right one.
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