The Influence of Trends
Trends represent a big segment of fashion consciousness, this is an indisputable fact. For the last couple of seasons the nautical, preppy, town meets country and military trends have had a huge influence on the clothes we buy and the looks we create. More recently the biker trend, block colours and new, more vibrant patterns have gradually been permeating the male fashion world. Without trends I’m sure a lot of people probably wouldn’t really know what to wear, we rely very heavily on them to dictate our style, irrespective of whether you are a strict trend follower or prefer the style of the ever ubiquitous, sartorial gent.
However, this reliance on trends does of course create issues. In this instance I want to concentrate on key items; the pieces that create the trends we all love to follow, the things that fill our stores and wardrobes, the things we consider fashionable.
But what is the problem with this? Surely we need these items because they play such a pivotal role? In this particular case it is something that we have touched on a great deal in previous articles but never really discussed in any great detail; key items becoming too common. I should point out however that I don’t just want to create a list of items that could be construed as over worn or clichéd, I also wish to consider whether or not this should actually have any impact on our choices.
As we have said numerous times before, fashion is an entirely subjective beast and we base our decisions on what we as a person find attractive or fashionable, but does a quest for individuality drive us away from pieces that we might have invested in otherwise?
This issue isn’t restricted to one particular season or item, it goes across the board; after all, key items don’t just feature in one particular trend. Often these items can adapt to numerous trends and are very useful when creating outfits that fuse a number of looks or developing a more classic, timeless style. When you consider that a transitional wardrobe is something all fashionable men should be striving for, this debate becomes a lot more important.
Below are just some of the items that could well be considered to be style overload.
The Boat Shoe/Espadrille
I thought I would start with shoes because as we all know they are arguably the most important part of any outfit. I have grouped together espadrilles and boat shoes because they serve much the same purpose and niche of the footwear market, so what applies to one more often than not applies to the other.
It is fairly obvious just how popular both these styles of shoe have become, in fact it is now very hard to walk down the street without seeing at least a few pairs and they are available almost everywhere. This has been the case for the last couple of seasons and you could be excused for beginning to consider them a little too common or lacking in individuality; certainly there has been some level of market saturation, one only has to look at TOMS for an example; irrespective of their great cause and company ethic, from a fashion point of view, everyone seems to be wearing them (I also wonder sometimes whether people actually realise what the company itself does, rather than see them as a nice shoe that is currently on trend).
However, although I personally don’t wear either shoe (I’m not a fan of the style), I do think they both still have a very important role to play in both current and future trends as well as within timeless fashion. Boat shoes in particular play big roles in the preppy, nautical and heritage trends, while espadrilles are the perfect alternative to the many more formal styles – a good way to introduce individuality to your outfit as a whole. It is perhaps more an issue of HOW you wear them, rather than WHAT you are wearing.
The subject of much fierce fashionable debate all on their own, cuffed jeans are a good example of a trend whose popularity has sky rocketed within a very short period of time; this being the cause of debate, is this a good or bad thing?
Much of the issue stems, I believe, from the cut. They often come as carrot, banana or drop crotch jeans, meaning you are mixing two very new and different designs that have very little in common with the standard denim we are used to. They also suffer from a great deal of stereotyping and appeal (for the most part) to a very strict demographic; certainly not a look to be enjoyed by everyone, but we should also consider the factor of geographical location.
This is a topic we touched on before when discussing Brand Association and it rings very true here; on a recent trip to Birmingham for example I noticed an overwhelming prominence of cuffed trousers and jeans, whilst in other places they are much less common. While I think this is a factor, I also believe that it is also an example of a specific style becoming popular in a particular area; it suits their dress sense and fits in with the majority of the people they know. In the end they can still be seen as current fashion and being on trend, but it might not be what you personally consider to be fashionable.
As mentioned previously, this is not a problem specific to a certain season (although it does seem to affect the spring/summer more.) Quilted Jackets are another example of an item that has gained popularity very quickly and quite coincidently, is often seen paired with cuffed jeans, boat shoes or espadrilles. But before we become all stereotypical and judgemental we must consider all the angles.
For a start, these jackets are hugely versatile; light enough for spring and even into early summer but thick enough to be worn throughout autumn and, if layered properly during the winter, they offer the perfect year round outerwear choice. They are also very easy to wear and can be thrown on over almost anything. Finally, like boat shoes, they adapt and play a very important part in many trends, most notably heritage and town meets country – a good example of easy fashion.
But as with many other key items, they suffer from a lack of individuality and a certain level of bad association. Perhaps another candidate for the HOW you wear it cause.
The Check Shirt
We here at FashionBeans like check shirts, as items go they sit firmly in the timeless camp but that still doesn’t make them immune from the worn too much by too many virus. Their popularity arguably stems from the ease with which they can be worn, the very simple nature of their design; no fashion based bravery needed and the huge diversity of colours and patterns available.
Unfortunately, it is exactly this versatility that pushes it closer and closer to the realms of the over worn. Regardless of differing colour or style, it is ultimately still a check shirt, fashion that every Tom, Dick and Nigel can wear; go for a night out on the town and checked shirts far outweigh any other – all worn in exactly the same way.
The reasons for avoiding check shirts seems overwhelming, but this shouldn’t be the case because their versatility is so good and they become the building blocks for the holy grail we all strive for – a timeless, capsule wardrobe. Chances are your shirt will be pretty much unique to you on most occasions (due to the extraordinary amount of styles and colours available now) so then it becomes up to you to style it correctly. Mixing it with interesting accessories such as ties and bow ties is a great start, as not many men can pull off a pattern mix shirt and tie combination. Other options would be to opt for more current styles and fits, such as small checks, gingham or plaid, in slimmer, more formal cuts.
Again it becomes HOW you wear it – but I know a lot of people who now neglect the check section of their wardrobe because of the increasing popularity. Are you one of these?
In a similar way to check shirts, this is perhaps not an item that many would have considered to be overloading and to a certain extent you would be right – accessories are among the most versatile and timeless items of fashion you could buy; they go across most trends, help to accentuate your outfit regardless of what it is and perhaps most importantly, mark you out as an individual.
But we should still remember that variety really is the spice of life and if everyone is wearing the same pair of sunglasses (I’m thinking black Rayban wayfarers here) there is definitely no spice whatsoever. Sunglasses are also items that need to be carefully considered, just because everyone else is wearing them doesn’t mean they actually suit you – check out Matt Allinson’s Fashion Basics article on eyewear for more information.
The Wayfarer’s shape is iconic and it is only natural that lots of people want to cash in on that action but there are alternatives out there, even by changing the colour you alter their whole appearance. Definitely a timeless classic, but perhaps one that needs a little mixing up.
So, I have identified just a few of the items that could be considered over worn or in danger of enter style overload and I have also suggested why this shouldn’t necessarily dictate whether or not we wear them, but what are the alternatives?
As I have said before, this is by no means an exhaustive list, you might disagree with my choices or you might be able to think of lots more, you might even believe that there is no place in fashion for some of these items. Regardless of whether this is or is not the case we should still consider the virtues of each and every one, there is a reason they have become so popular (thus perhaps over worn) and we should always bare in mind that it could be argued that fashion is actually what the masses want and not what we personally believe or want it to be.
Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is fashion. Style it could be said is something completely different – but they are still intrinsically linked – one does not exist without the other, and before we rush headlong into a complete disregard of certain items we must first decide why we don’t like something. Is it because it just doesn’t work with our style? Or is it because of the connotations surrounding it? If it is the latter then we should also remember that HOW we wear affects WHAT we wear.
But now it’s time for your opinion:
- Do you think style overload is a problem?
- Does it affect your choices? What else affects them?
- Do stereotypes still impact upon your choices?
- What other items do you think are over worn?
- How much do you think how you wear an item affects the perception of it?
Let me know what you think in the comments below.