I was browsing through BuzzFeed late one night, my mind becoming numb and quiet before I fell asleep. BuzzFeed, with its endless lists, quizzes and photo galleries, is excellent for procrastinating and general amusement, keeping readers updated on breaking news, trending topics and the cutest hedgehogs on the web. It was one such list about Coachella that inspired me to wake up and have a little style heart attack.
Since I have already discussed important outfit tips to keep in mind when going to music festivals, I will not wax on about what these people should have worn according to my style gospel. I will, however, say that these people should have consulted me before heading out, because the photos of these concert-goers that BuzzFeed posted were horrifying. Highlighting not only how absurd people look — and offensive, with the obtrusive appearance of Native American headdresses shockingly abundant — the article allowed me to see just how horrible some trends can truly be.
It has long been my belief that just because something is trendy does not mean it is stylish or flattering. More often than not, the trendy items out there are not flattering to most people, but rather only on the giraffe legged models who strut these looks down the runway or are photoshopped to look good in them in the magazines. This could not be truer than now — a time where crop tops, billowing pants and high waisted short-shorts are in style: these items are highly risky choices. Crop tops awkwardly cut up the body to create weird proportions. Billowing pants, especially in tribal prints, make most people look enormous and lumpy. High waisted short-shorts somehow manage to make everyone look like they have super-wedgies and usually involve half their butt cheek hanging out.
Why do we turn to these trends when we know they do us no favors? Because we are a consumer society and we mimic people we idolize, right down to their outfits. Our generation is not the first to make these sort of trend mistakes, however. Denim on denim was all the rage in the early 2000s, resulting in Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears wearing a denim tuxedo and gown combination that now burns our retinas. In the ’80s, strong shoulders were essential to every business suit and wedding dress, culminating in enough embarrassing wedding photos that your mother likely has given up hope that you will ever wear her dress when you get married. The heavy use of cheap fabrics like polyester and rayon in clothing from the ’50s to the ’70s subsequently led to starchy feeling outfits and a lot of smelly vintage clothing in resale boutiques. The addition of leisure suits, the go-to look favored by the mustached men of the ’70s and ’80s, made the already cheap fabrics look even worse. Fashion atrocities occur in every decade, each trend rising high before falling flat upon realization of just how bad these outfits really were.
When I was in sixth grade, I desperately wanted a pair of silken cargo pants. I had seen them in stores and on my friends and in my then publication of choice, Seventeen. I thought that a black silk pair would look perfect with one of my Abercrombie and Fitch tank tops. My genius mother said that she would never buy me these pants, and that if I really wanted them I would have to save up and buy them myself. I consider myself lucky now that there are no photos in existence of myself wearing this once dream outfit of mine. I shudder to think of how poorly my chunky prepubescent body would have pulled off this look. It was at this moment that I learned trends were overrated, and that I was better off sticking with things that flattered me, even if it was lame at the time. Now, I consistently search for classic items and find one or two trends every season to adopt. For this year, I like the skater skirt because it universally flatters the smallest part of a woman’s body— her waist — and can be translated into winter or summer apparel with the subtraction or addition of accessories and outerwear.
Just because these looks are out there, does not mean you have to adopt them. You can pick out certain trends every season that you like, but you absolutely do not have to make them all wardrobe staples. You won’t be a social pariah for dressing for yourself. Dressing to make yourself happy is part of growing up and creating your own personal style. Defining your personal style is defining yourself, whether it be classic, preppy, girly, glam, retro or boho. If it makes you happy, wear it and forget about following exactly what is “in” or “out.” No matter what fashion magazines tell you, what is most important is feeling confident and flattering your figure.
Noel Hemphill is a junior ECLS major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @WklyNHemphill.