The Trend Conundrum

Fashion trends, as we all know, are highly unpredictable. Some arrive and only stay a season, some show up and embed themselves in our minds and wardrobes forever. Over the years, there have been trends that were universally adopted and others that were universally despised.

Before I get into my whole trend tirade, let me preface with this…the photo that provoked this post:

  Credit: Richard Beetham/Splash News Online  Published: Friday Dec 11, 2009 05:00 PM EST on
Credit: Richard Beetham/Splash News Online. Published: Friday Dec 11, 2009 05:00 PM EST on

That’s the adorable Carey Mulligan with her boyfriend Shia LeBeouf. I’ll return to the photo in a moment. Back to the topic at hand: fashion trends.

Trends are a tricky thing, you see; what makes some women look so pulled together is not a wardrobe full of the latest styles and trends, but the ability to know which ones to avoid. Trends are the proverbial damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t conundrum. Working them all can make you look more fashion victim than fashion forward. Incorporating the wrong ones? Equally devastating. Ignoring them completely (for years) makes you look like you’re stuck in a time warp (mom jeans, anyone?).

Now back to the photo.

It’s hard to tell from the angle, but it appears as though Carey Mulligan is wearing a pair of zip-ankle harem pants. Also hard to tell from the photo is that Carey is not pear-shaped, and actually has a very enviable figure. Again, hard to see that she has a great little body because of those bloody awful harem pants…a recent trend that should just die quickly, and forever.

OK, so the point of this is not to pick on Carey Mulligan or to malign the importance of individuality. I’m an absolute believer in fashion freedom and have certainly made my share of mistakes in the cultivation of personal style. And I acknowledge that good style is truly insignificant in the grand scheme of things.


If memorable, excellent personal style is important to you, if it is something you aspire to, then understanding trends and how they relate to you is critical. Even if your only goal is simply not to look bad, attention and thought must be paid to trends being pushed in the market, and what to do—or not to do—with them. Now I’ve been told by others that I have good style, my friends and family regularly come to me for fashion advice, and I almost always receive a compliment from a stranger on something I’m wearing every time I step outside my door. So it is with these credentials that I offer my perspective on the latest trends and how (or whether) to incorporate them into one’s repertoire.

Here’s my quick-hit list on what’s trendy now:

  • Harem pants: No. Make that a double HELL NO!
  • Sharp shoulders, shoulder pads: No. I think everyone who jumped on the bandwagon will look back at their 2009 photos and think the same thing they thought when looking back at their 1985 photos.
  • Big hair: Sure, why not? If you don’t mind the torture of combing out all that teasing at the end of the night. Hey, at least we’ve moved beyond permed big hair.
  • Statement jewelry: YES! Big rings and big necklaces are like wearable art. Statement jewelry is a 21st century trend that is here to stay.
  • Clutches: Yes. So nice to see designers doing clutches for anytime, and not just with formal wear.
  • Jade green nails: Maybe. But only if you’re in your early 20s.
  • Sequins: Yes. But don’t invest in more than one piece…a skirt, top, or dress embellished with sequins.
  • Leather: Yes. One piece at a time. Either a dress, a skirt, or a jacket, but definitely not all together, and definitely not with a tall boot. Ankle boots are a good complement.
  • Double denim: Can I get another hell no? That’s another 80s trend that needs to just stay in the 80s.
  • Studs and chains: Yes. Keep them to one body part only. Either an armful of studded bracelets, boots with chain detail, or a wide studded belt. Never all together.
  • Lace leggings: No. Another bad 80s revival. If you want to do a lace leg, do black or nude lace tights.
  • Thigh high boots: Yes, honey, yes, yes, yes. But not with a tight, micro mini skirt. Safest bet: flat black boots worn with leggings or skinny jeans and a tunic or long, chunky sweater; or with a shift dress and tights.


  1. It depends what your goals are, really. If you just want to be known for looking in style as opposed to out, and getting compliments, then sure, you avoid the harem pants and the pointy shoulders. If part of your relationship with clothing involves exploring shape, proportion and outline, both with and against the body, then such counterintuitive constructions are welcome into your wardrobe.

    It’s when such extreme shapes become part of the vernacular, and incorporated into casual wear without any thought for overall effect, that fugly disasters like Carey, above, occur – neither interesting NOR flattering.

    (And personally, I will always say NO! to clutches. A more essentially useless piece of baggage does not exist – particularly in larger sizes. “Here, put all your crap in this! Now carry it awkwardly!”)

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