My mom’s closet is like the Museum of Natural History: It’s filled with creatures that have long been extinct. They aren’t stuffed, like the museum’s collections, but are instead made of leather, wool, or denim.
When I wandered through her closet growing up, there was no glass barrier preventing me from picking through these clothes that had been held in captivity for too long. And as I held up an old plaid button-down or a pair of chunky heels, I couldn’t understand why or how she had accumulated so many trends. By definition, trends are supposed to come and go. If every trend has an expiration date, why would anyone hold onto one after it begins to sour?
My mom was definitely a pack rat, keeping any shirt that held an ounce of a memory, but there was more behind her reasoning. Most of the time, she seemed blissfully unaware of trends, and if she noticed one and bought into it, she was content to keep her trendy clothes because they were comfortable or fit her personal style—not because they were in style. For once, I have to say that my mother knows best.
Over the summer, I encountered the trend dilemma when I decided that I wanted to get a high-low skirt—those skirts that are short in the front and long in the back. When I told a friend what I was planning, she said, “But it seems like one of those trends that will go away soon.”
She was thinking long-term. This trend was not like skinny jeans, leggings, or other basic styles that could sustain themselves for years. It was a risky trend that should have seemed awkward, like someone had cut off half of the front of her skirt, but for now it was socially acceptable to wear. As my friend was pointing out, it would have made no sense to invest in it.
She was right. What would happen two or three months down the line when these skirts became an endangered, or even extinct, species? Would I really want to be caught dead in one? At that time, the answer was no.
Looking back, I wish it had been yes. As long as it fit my style, I shouldn’t have cared whether it was in or out. Even those moms who wear baggy gauchos to their kids’ soccer practices must find some redeeming quality in wearing what essentially looks like a skirt with legs.
Besides, if we wore trends only as long as they were fashionable, it would be exhausting. As Oscar Wilde aptly said, “Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.” If the everyday person tried to keep pace with fashion, her wallet would always be empty, and she would always be dissatisfied with the contents of her closet.
When it comes to trends, we need to forget about following the herd and instead focus on our own survival. Instead of worrying about following trends and their approaching expiration dates, find the trends that you feel comfortable in, that flatter you, and that you can see yourself wearing for a while. Those are the ones that are worth adding to your collection.
Sarah Batchu is a Barnard College sophomore and a page design associate editor for Spectator. Fashion Realist runs alternate Fridays.