When I was a teenager, I poured over every fashion magazine I could get my hands on. I memorized the names of all the designers, photographers, and stylists who brought such striking images to life. When fashion week would roll around twice a year, I would dig through the photos from all the top shows—saving the outfits that inspired me the most on my computer to review later.
Then, the industry began to shift. Street style photos replaced the formerly glossy pages of magazines. These new images of women getting out of cabs and running to fashion shows saturated the web and social media. Soon, what the editors wore to attend fashion shows started to matter more than what walked down the runway. While their high-fashion lifestyles weren’t attainable, many of their outfits were.
The clothes shown on the catwalk are often unwearable for the average woman. But the average consumer could copy what the editors wore. Well, at least they could knock off what the editors wore.
Over the years I’ve added to my collection of photos from fashion week. A mix of dream outfits and everyday style. When I look through those photos now, I’m surprised at how many of the styles I still love. The clothing I loved ten years ago wasn’t practical as a college student, but now I frequently reference those photos for style inspiration.
As a bonus, I’ve noticed my spending habits have changed for the better. That means less off the shoulder tops (trendy) and more white linen button-up shirts (timeless). Learning what works well for my body type is another way I’ve avoided trends. At five feet, two inches tall, a voluminous maxi dress will never be my friend. But I can wear longer hems if I choose a more streamlined silhouette. Knowing what I look and feel good in helps me skip over fast fashion styles that aren’t meant for me. You can create your own definition of timeless, and it starts with pinpointing what makes you feel your best.
Once I entered the workforce, I no longer had time to spend hours perusing fashion week updates. But I did have time to scroll through Instagram a couple times a day. I was new to the platform. I didn’t realize that it contained such a wealth of accounts that provided style inspiration (my neutral-fabric-loving heart can’t get enough of influencers Christie Tyler and Catherine).
Somehow I landed on a certain niche. A rather pink and feminine niche. Not exactly my style, but those women and their outfits sure were bright and fun to look at. Next thing I knew, nothing in my wardrobe felt good enough.
Suddenly, I felt I wore too much navy.
And why didn’t I own any exciting patterns?
I started to pick up a few styles that matched what I was seeing on Instagram. After a few uses, those items sat untouched. Why had I thought tropical prints were a good idea?
Then I found all the old photos I had saved. This was before the influence of social media, a time before our digital lives became perfectly curated. The outfits I saved weren’t chosen to prove trendiness or to enhance an Instagram feed. I simply liked them. And yes, there was a lot of navy involved.
Instead of wasting money on trends, I now carefully think about how a new style will fit into my wardrobe. Does it coordinate with what I already own? Would I have liked this item last year? Will I like it next year? Focusing on defining my personal style stops me from overshopping and falling whim to trends.
Invest in timeless styles.
It turns out my style leans towards classic. I like neutral colors and simple silhouettes. I’ve never been one to shy away from a basic shift dress or a crew neck sweater. So why fight it? By following the tastemakers who attend fashion week, I’m able to find outfit inspiration that includes these timeless styles. When I look back at my inspiration photos, many of them incorporate classic pieces styled in a modern way.
Sometimes all it takes is a certain tuck, rolled up sleeves, or a strategic piece of jewelry to make a simple style feel special. Each season, I now look to see how my favorite pieces are being styled. This allows me to get extra wear out of almost every piece of clothing I own. Fashion meets frugality.
Fashion week is about speed. The newest, latest, and greatest. But sometimes saturation can be confused with infatuation.
Not every fashion week style I loved back in the day was a win. At one point, I was very drawn to 1950’s silhouettes. Today, I’d gladly pass on the Mad Men knockoffs. I’m confident in the styles that I chose then and still love today.
Wait a season and see how you really feel about a style. We’ve all had a trend grow on us that we originally hated—only to dump that same trend a year later. I would rather slow down and wait to buy a new style than waste money on a piece I’ll donate after a few wears.
As tempting as it is to shop after seeing the latest designer wares during fashion week, I try to hold off until I am sure I love a trend. The less I buy, the more I am able to invest in pieces. I’d rather buy ten high quality pieces a year than thirty that will fall apart after a few wash cycles.
When I conducted an end of year spending review, I realized I was spending way more money than I wanted to on clothing. When I opened my closet, I wasn’t happy with what I saw. I would’ve rather spent that money on a relaxing vacation or put it towards a future home down payment. That money could have been collecting interest in a high-yield savings account or helping to grow my investment portfolio. Now, before I make a purchase, I wait. Not only to see if I’ll still like a style months from now, but to see if I really need to spend that money.
While many look to fashion week for the most innovative styles, I see it as a chance to continue to hone my personal style. It’s an opportunity to build out a wardrobe I can count on for many years to come. I’ve saved not just money, but also time by reflecting on my favorite fashion week styles. Not to mention, a decent amount of space in my closet.