The Truth About Trends

In this Episode, Lessons From Linda shares the story of a Linda who discovered her part-time life was really her full-time life, which cleared up why she never had anything to wear!

Shawl Collar is our Word of the Week–get ready for jacket and cardigan season by knowing if this is one you should look for, or avoid!

In Philosophy, I share one of my favorite quotes from designer Tom Ford that reminds us there’s more than one kind of comfort.

Finally, in the Everyday Style Lecture, we discuss the truth about trends. What do you really mean when you say the word “trend”? I share some tips for figuring out if a trend is going to be here today, and gone tomorrow, or if it’s going to stick around for a while. Plus–is it possible to build a trend-proof wardrobe? Tune in to find out!

Links and resources from the show:

if you’re not sure what a shawl collar looks like, here are a whole bunch under $50

Innovators, early adopters, early majority what? 

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Read the full episode transcript below! – Ep 13 The Truth About Trends

Hey there–welcome back to the Everyday Style School Podcast where we believe that style should be easy, and getting dressed can be fun.

You may have noticed there wasn’t an episode last week–I got a cold and completely lost my voice. If I sound a little off today, that would be why! I do want to say though, that for a while, this Style School will be going bi-weekly with episodes from me, and I’ll be sharing Students and Visiting Professors as bonus episodes when I can.

The reason for this is that for the next couple of months, creating and launching the Fall Capsule Guide pretty much rules my life. I am committed to making this the best guide and Capsule Group ever, so I’ll be focusing my energies there.

Don’t worry though, I’ve got some amazing professors lined up, that I know you’re going to love. They’ll be no shortage of style advice coming your way!

Here’s what’s going on in the Style School today

In the word of the week, we’re talking about shawl collars. I know its hot as hades in a lot of areas, but cardigans are starting to pop up in stores, and I want you to be ready!

I’ve got one of my favorite quotes for you in Philosophy, and in the Everyday Style Lecture, we’re talking about one of the scariest fashion concepts.

This is something that almost every woman I’ve worked with has wanted no part of, and yet every woman’s closet is full of. That’s right, friends, today, we are talking about trends and what the word “trend” truly means.

To quote Inigo Montoya from The Princess bride–You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Before we get started, I want share a super kind review left on the Apple Podcast App from one of our listeners.

NCmomtoC, had to say:
Loving this information!!
I just listened to the first 3 episodes and want to go revamp my entire closet! No wonder things weren’t fitting me right and I was so unhappy. Listen to Jennifer! You will be amazed and learn the right way to dress for you to be your fabulous self!

NC Mom to C, thank you for your kind words–I am so happy to hear that you are dressing for your fabulous self. If anything I’ve said helps you get closer to style you want to have, and the person you want to be, I am honored to be a part of that. Thank you again.

Hey, if you’re listening and loving the podcast, and have a minute to leave a review, it means the world to me. Reviews tell other women know what kind of information they can expect on the show as well, so thanks for taking a minute to leave those awesome 5 star reviews!

All right, let’s get this party started as always, with todays Lessons from Linda

Today’s Linda called me because she wanted to look more polished at work.

When I got to Linda’s we talked about her style–she told me she liked high quality, nicer things for her “real” life, but there was this small subset of her life where she just wore casual things that were low maintenance.

I dug a little about this “little chunk” of her life that needed clothes that weren’t her real style. It was her work, which required her to be physical, move freely, and wear easy care clothing. We agreed that her job had to be these kinds of clothes, so that’s Monday through Friday (with the exception of meetings).

I asked if she changed when she got home into her real clothes–no, she stayed in her work clothes. She’s also super active in a gorgeous, walkable neighborhood, so on weekends she ended up in her casual, knock around clothes.

So that’s Monday through Friday (with the exception of meetings), plus Saturday and Sunday. I asked if she went out to lots of nice dinners–no, dinners tended to be at casual neighborhood spots. I asked if they went to lots of events, no-they tended to be a more low key family.

Finally, I got Linda to understand that the clothes she didn’t care about, because they were only for a small part of her life, were actually the clothes she was wearing day in and day out.

She agreed that we needed to flip our view on what her lifestyle actually looked like, and recognize that these “who cares” sometimes clothes were the clothes that she was wearing every day and build her wardrobe accordingly

So we started going through clothes–bottoms first, of course. First pair–cute, but not a great fit. Linda said “well, I’ll keep those because I like the feel of them”.

Second pair- again, not a great fit, but not terrible otherwise, “I don’t care, I’ll keep them for walking around the neighborhood”

Third pair–a little dated, way too big “I’ll keep those because they’re good when it’s hot”. Same story, all the way through–Linda’s closet was filled with clothes she was totally ambivalent about, but that she kept because they were “passable” if not perfect.

Linda called me in part because she felt like she had nothing to wear–but in fact, she had a ton of clothes. What she didn’t have, was clothes that made her feel and look the way she wanted–for the life she really lived.

The two lessons I want you to take away from this Linda are:

The way you spend the majority of your time is your lifestyle. So many women have a vision of what their style is, and how they like to dress, but it doesn’t align with the way they really live.

So they buy clothes for this ideal life, and say “who cares, it doesn’t matter” to the rest of their wardrobe…and then feel frumpy and bad because they literally spend all their time in a frumpy who cares wardrobe, and feel guilty and sad because they have all these pretty clothes that they never wear.

If you love a good sheath dress and heels, but you spend your time as a preschool teacher, buy clothes you love for your preschool teacher life. I’m not saying spend a ton of money on these things, but fit makes a huge difference, condition makes a huge difference, as do adding in colors, prints and silhouettes that make you happy.

Don’t default to basic black and gray, whatever is cheapest, just because you think you’re dressing for a life you don’t care about. This is your life, start dressing in a way that makes you feel the way you want to feel. Marry what you need to do with how you want to look. That’s the key to fabulous everyday style.

The second lesson is that great style has never been, and will never be, built on a wardrobe full of “eh, it’s fine”. When I think about my most transformative clients, they’ve been the ones who’ve let me take “fine” out of their wardrobes.

Most women think I’m going to come and take the bad, and then they’ll have a magical wardrobe, but that’s not the case. Yes, there’s always some bad, everybody’s got some stuff that NEEDS to go. but what’s standing between you and the look you want is the Fine. The pants that don’t fit great, but hey, they can be put in the dryer.

The t-shirt you don’t love, but there’s nothing “wrong” with it. This “stuff” is the clothes you bought without intention, the things you bought on sale, the extra tees you bought in every color (even though they’re not amazing).

And this stuff makes up the majority of the closets I’ve been in, and maybe a big chunk of your wardrobe as well.

I want to leave you with this…until you are ready to part with things that you don’t care about to make room for things you love, you’ll never have the look you want. It’s not the “bad” that’s standing between you and amazing personal style, it’s the “eh, it’s fine”.

Let’s move on to the Word of the Week!

Today,I want to talk about Shawl Collars. Two words. First one Shawl, last one collar. You’re a smart crowd, I don’t think I need to spell it.

Why the heck am I talking about collars that are frequently found on cardigans and jackets in August? Well, fall clothes are a comin, and I want you to be ready. When you get the Fall Capsule Guide, and set out to get a great cardigan, I want you to know if this is a good one for you…or not.

Let’s start with what it is. A shawl collar is a rolled or turned down collar that goes straight into the lapels with no notches, and continues down the front of the garment.

As always, if you’re having trouble with what that looks like, head to the show notes above, where I’ve got examples–we’ll do under $50 this time.

Here’s what a shawl collar does–it extends the visual line of the shoulder up onto the neck. In Jennifer terms, it gives you what I call “shoulder creep”, where your shoulder creeps all the way up your neck.

Is this always a bad thing? Nope, not at all–lots of bodies could appreciate a wider shoulder line. Pears, for example who want to balance out their lower halves, or the woman who once told me “My neck is so long and skinny, I don’t know how my head stays on”.

First of all Linda, that’s not how anatomy and physiology work. also, here’s a shawl collar cardigan to cure you of the thing literally everyone else in the world wants.

So, if you have ever thought–I wish my shoulders were broader or my neck was shorter, this collar is for you. On the flip side, if you feel like you flirt with looking like a WWE wrestler, I’d avoid this one.

I’ve got broader shoulders, and let’s just say my head is firmly attached to my body, and this is one of the least flattering collars on me. I avoid at all costs. If you fall somewhere in the middle, give it a try! Pay attention to how wide your shoulders look and how long your neck looks, and if you like it, go for it!

Let’s move over to Philosophy.

Today I want to share one of my favorite fashion quotes, and it’s from fashion designer Tom Ford, former creative director for both Gucci and Yves St Lauren. Here’s what he said’

There’s a different kind of comfort that comes from knowing that you are putting your best foot forward. It’s called psychological comfort.

I just love this quote because, as this world has gone comfy (dare I say sloppy), we’ve gained one type of comfort, but frankly, lost another.

There is a tremendous amount of comfort in feeling pulled together and polished. You feel confident, you feel ready for anything..and the funny thing is, when you look at women who are dressed really comfortably (dare i say sloppy), they often look really uncomfortable.

Not necessarily physically uncomfortable, but uncomfortable in their own skin

The reality is that chances are, you don’t need to be able to take a nap at a moment’s notice, or break into a complicated dance routine in the grocery store. We don’t need to be as comfortable as we are, but in doing so, we’ve given up so so much psychological comfort. So

Do me a favor, and one day this week, give up a little physical comfort to gain a little psychological comfort–it could be putting on a little heel, or pants with an actual number in the back, or a blouse instead of a tee.

See what the trade off really feels like–and if its worth it. I’ll look forward to hearing about it in the Everyday Style Lounge on Facebook.

When we come back, we’re talking about the concept of trends–what you really mean when you say trend, and why you’re probably thinking about it all wrong. Hang on!

Hey there, Sept 1 will be here before you know it, and thats when the Fall Capsule Guide comes out.

You know I create the capsules because they help women have more style with less stuff, but one of the biggest benefits is how easy they make your morning routines. But don’t take it from me, listen to Kristin M share what she loves about the Capsule.

If you’re on my email list, you’ll know as soon as the Fall Guide launches.

In today’s lecture, we’re discussing the concept of trends. This is a word that makes women run screaming in horror. Ah—trends–nooo!!!

Ok, maybe not that dramatic, but probably 80% of my clients have said to me “I don’t want to be trendy”. So let’s talk about what this word really means, and what you really mean when you say it.

I talked about this concept way back in episode 6 when we talked about wide leg pants, but I wanted to dig a little deeper.

This topic came to mind this week because I was thinking back to a talk I gave last fall. The Q&A portion opened up, and the first question I got was this “With women’s trends changing so fast”, how do you know you’re not wasting money”.

I asked her to give me an example, and she said “There’s a gingham blouse I love, but I don’t want it to look out of style next year”.

Friends, let’s unpack this concept, shall we?

First, let’s look at the dictionary definition of “trend”–one definition is what’s popular now in women’s apparel, but the other is this: the general course or prevailing tendency, or a drift –as in, current trends in education or the trend in the forecast

We tend to only think of trends as the first definition, but I want you to think of trends in terms of the second. Wider leg pants are trending. It is the general drift away from skinnier pants toward a wider leg silhouette.

That’s all–it’s not a hard and fast stop for skinnies–no ones burning their jcrew matchsticks in a communal’s just a slow drift (happening for years now) toward something new. That feels so much more manageable, doesn’t it?

But There’s another word that I think women really mean when they say trend, and it is the word fad. here’s the dictionary definition: a temporary fashion, notion, manner of conduct, etc., especially one followed enthusiastically by a group.

It is the word “temporary” that women are afraid of. Afraid of wasting money on something that will be so out of style next year that they’ll be ridiculed in the neighborhood facebook group.

Given those definitions, my advice to you is this: Stop being afraid of Trends, and instead, watch out for fads.

How can you tell which is which? Here are a few ways:

Is it a thing marketed at you? I’m guessing, that if you’re listening to this, you are a woman, in her 30’s, 40’s 50’s and beyond. You’re not a follower of ultra high fashion or street style. You don’t wait with bated breath for your issue of Vogue to hit your mailbox.

You shop in major retail stores like Loft, Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Gap, J Crew etc… Friends–I fall into all of those categories, and I have to tell you, we’re a pretty fad-proof group!

When I think of recent fads, like dabbing or flossing, clear accessories, celery juicing, tiny handbags, and bike shorts as pants, I can honestly say that not one woman I personally know has been a part of any of these.

My networking events have not kicked off with group flossing, and my PTA meetings have not had one woman wearing bike shorts, carrying a miniature handbag in attendance. Take comfort in the fact that if you and your friends are into it, it’s probably a trend, not a fad.

Now, if your tween or teen is into it, and ALL her friends are too, good chance it’s a fad. That’s your first clue.

Second question–Was it everywhere all at once, or did it show up slowly? Trends are like a wave…they start from nothing in the ocean, get bigger and bigger as they drift toward the shore, until they’re noticeable. Fads are like a tsunami.

One minute everything is calm and there’s no movement to be found…the next, water is everywhere. They seem inescapable.

Third question Is it something you’ve never seen before (or in at least not in the last 20 years) or is it just a reworking of what’s already out there? For example–the gingham blouse Linda was afraid to buy? I’m guessing she’d seen gingham before, it’s not exactly a revolutionary pattern.

Also guessing she was familiar with blouses, right? Now, contrast that with a very short lived fad of having clear knee panels on jeans. That’s something most people had never seen before.

Trends are often new interpretations or variations. Fads are usually a lot less subtle. If you’re thinking–hmm, I never saw those jeans Yes, because of my first point–it wasn’t made For you, or marketed at you. You are fad proof.

For a laugh though, I’ll link to them in the show notes above.

Finally, Is it a little bit ridiculous and impractical? Let’s use the gingham blouse example again. Is a basic plaid blouse ridiculous and impractical? I think we can all agree no.

Maybe it’s not your style, but at it’s core, it’s a pretty normal, wearable top. Clear knee jeans? Ridiculous? Check. Impractical? I have to think it gets pretty hot in there, so I’m going to say yes.

This one doesn’t always ring true, but often fads don’t have the wearability to live long. I’m looking at you, jelly shoes.

The biggest difference between trends and fads is the lifespan. Fads live for a season or two at most, and then disappear. Trends come on slowly, stay in our orbit for years, and then fade away slowly, only to reappear, usually in a slightly altered version a decade later.

So now that you know the difference between Trends and Fads, I want to talk about trends.

The first thing I’d like to do is change the way we talk about trends. There are some words that I’d love to see us all let go of, and I’ve got some suggestions for replacements.

The first is the word “trendy”. I try not to use this word. To me, it implies faddish, and makes women afraid to invest. I prefer the word “current” or even “on-trend” which to me signifies an understanding of the way fashion is drifting, a desire not to look dated, but stops short of the here-today, gone tomorrow mentality “trendy” implies.

It may be a little difference. but let me ask you, would you like your outfit to look “trendy”? How about “current” or even “on-trend”. If those words feel different for you, and better, like they do for me, I encourage you to use them instead.

The other thing I say is that something is “having a moment”. Let’s take the color green, for example. This summer, green is having a moment.

It isn’t like we’ve never seen the color green before, or that after summer 2019, this hue will disappear forever and you will look so 2019 in your green shirt. It’s always been out there, it always will be out there…but right now, it’s just a little more out there.

It is, as I say, having a moment. Linda’s gingham blouse was having a moment.

The second word I’d like us to get rid of is the word “out”. As in, are these jeans “out”? Again, to me this is a word that implies fads–where something is either clearly in, or clearly out.

That’s not the way true trends work. It takes a long time for something that was, at one point, on trend to fully be noticeably “out” of style. Usually years.

When working with clients, I use the word “dated” instead which to me, is an item that is not on trend or current anymore and can clearly be identified to a specific time period. For example, a crewneck cashmere sweater from 2004 is not dated.

It wasn’t “trendy” in the first place, and you can’t really pinpoint when that sweater was bought. On the other hand Low rise, bling butt, boot cut jeans are dated.

They were a very noticeable trend, they’re not any more and they can be pinpointed to a very specific time period. I do want to say though, nothing you truly love should be gotten rid of just because the world says it’s not the latest and greatest.

If you love it and wear it, and feel great it in, rock those Britney jeans, girl!

Now that we’ve got our vocabulary sorted, its important to note that No one, including you, is trend proof. Every single thing you’re wearing is, or was at one time, a trend. Clothes were a trend.

The fact that you’re not naked was at one point in history, pretty trendy. Now it’s the norm. Will it always be the norm? I’m guessing yes, but never say never. Pretending you don’t take part in trends is untrue, whether you like it or not. Whether you are taking part in current trends, well, that’s up to you.

Also, just because you just saw it, doesn’t make it a trend, and just because you just bought it doesn’t make it a classic. Let me explain.

There may be things that you notice one day, and say, hmm, that’s new, must be trendy. I want none of that. Again, going with my fad-proof concept from earlier, chances are, once it gets to you, especially if you’re a person who doesn’t shop for a living, it’s well past the flash-in-the-pan phase.

The innovators and early adopters have already adopted it. When you’re seeing it for the first time in stores like Loft, you’re already part of the early majority. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I’ll put a link to a diffusion curve in the show notes above.

On the flip side, even if you are a person who avoids trends at all costs, the fact you bought something you love does not mean it’s forever trend-proof. Classics are tricky, and not as widespread as people think.

I always say that categories are classic, individual pieces are not. Let’s take a classic black suit, for example. Women are always telling me that suits are classics. Sure, the idea of a suit is.

But, think about a suit from the 60’s, then 70’s, then 80’s—working girl, anyone? The 90’s gave us Ally McBeal suits. So here we have a classic category, but none of those would be considered Classic looks. Also, the less you spend on your clothes, the less classic they are. A Chanel black suit?

Classic. A Loft black suit Not so much.

Here’s another thing I want to share with you: trends, as we’ve always known them, are dead. You know, where it feels like there’s one major trend, and it’s hard to find anything else? The world, and the fashion industry, has become so diverse that whatever you like, you can find.

I remember a couple of years ago, curved hems were kind of the thing. It seemed like they were everywhere. However, plenty of stores carried plenty of tops that didn’t feature a curved hem.

Currently the trend in tops is that they’re getting shorter, that may be the norm we see for a while, but I guarantee you you’ll be able to find longer tops–there will always be stores and brands that fit your needs and your aesthetic.

It’s the greatest gift that online shopping has given us. You may have to look a little harder to find what you need, but its out there.

Women say to me all the time “The only thing that’s out there is (fill in the blank–ruffles, cold shoulder tops, midi skirts..what ever) I can’t buy anything I like.

Honestly, Linda, you’re not trying hard enough, because while all of those things have had, or are having, their moments, you could still buy a million things that are not ruffled, cold shouldered, or midi length. If you mean that the one store you went to only had those things, I would encourage you to try more than one store.

Try two–or even 3. It’s out there.

Before we wrap up, I want to share why this matters–I see women all the time using “I don’t want to waste money on a trend” as an excuse for not buying things they love.

That Gingham blouse? Linda had expensive tastes and it wasn’t from Target. She wanted a really great gingham blouse, but she talked herself out of it, and used “I don’t want to waste money on a trend” as an excuse.

I hear this in the Capsule Community often “Should I buy X? Will it be In style next year?” and my answer is always the same. Do you love X? Will you want to wear it next year regardless if it’s having a moment or not? Those are the questions you need to answer

By the way, Buying something simply because it’s a trend is lazy–it lets you get out of putting thought into what you want your style to be, and buying with intention.

There will be trends you love and trends you don’t. Don’t hesitate to go all in on the trends you love, and completely avoid those you don’t.

Let’s worst-case scenario it for a second though. What if you did accidentally participate in a short lived trend? You bought a top this summer you liked, and next year, you really felt like it was out. So what?

If you took money from your kid’s college fund for it, or didn’t pay your electric bill so you could have it, you should feel bad about that. But you should feel bad if you do those things for any piece of clothing.

But if you spend an affordable amount (that you could afford to lose) on an item you loved only for a short time? So what. I’m not saying this should be a long term strategy your wardrobe, but if it happened once a decade?

You’ll survive. Don’t let the fear of being trendy hold you back.

Finally, when you stop participating in trends altogether, you look dated. You look like you got stuck in a time warp and didn’t realize the world kept moving forward…and it makes you look older than you really are.

You don’t have to shop at forever 21 (after all, those are probably fads), but updating your basics each decade probably isn’t a bad idea.

That’s it friends. Your homework this episode is to, one day, give up a tiny bit of physical comfort to gain a little bit more physiological comfort that comes from knowing you’ve put your best foot forward. Can’t wait to hear the results in the Everyday Style Lounge on Facebook!

Have a great week, I’ll see you next time

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