Trying a new-to-you trend can be fun, but a little expensive and risky, especially when you’ve had negative feelings about the trend in the past. And sometimes when you love an item in store and know exactly how it will work in your outfits, it doesn’t work out when you road-test it later. In these cases, purchasing the new-to-you trend at a cheaper price is a safe strategy. That way you’ll have tried something new, kept your style evolving, had fun dipping your toes into fashionable trends, AND kept the cost factor low if the item does not work out.

Note that “cheap” here is a relative term and depends very much on your situation and budget. In South Africa in the early ’90s, Levi’s was considered a premium brand and had price points way above anything from local denim manufacturers. These days I’m later in my career and live in the United States, so I view Levi’s completely differently. That doesn’t take anything away from the excitement I felt when I bought my first pair of Levi’s 501 jeans.

Patterned Blouse
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Here’s an example from my own wardrobe. The new ruffled blouse trend tickled my fancy because the soft and pretty silhouette looks fresh amidst a sea of voluminous drape and oversized slouch. But my negative feelings toward ruffles eight years ago stayed put in the back of my mind. So although I’m drawn to the romance of ruffles, I’m not convinced I will enjoy wearing them again. Enter this patterned blouse from H&M. For $35, I was prepared to explore my current feelings about ruffles and take the gamble. 

The ‘70s Victoriana integrity of the blouse is in line with my current love for Retro Futurism. Its high turtleneck is a good match for my long neck. The smocked detailing makes me smile and the alluring back neck slit is different. Plus the drape of the polyester is sublime. Feels like silk – I can scarcely believe it’s polyester. The rust and black pattern would work well with the rust, black, denim and cognac items I have in my wardrobe. Here are my exact wardrobe pieces that I thought would work well with the blouse.

I showed Greg the blouse semi-tucked into my high-rise cropped jeans with cognac belt and patent rust booties as soon as I got home. In-house fashion stylist Greg is generally allergic to ruffles, but to my surprise liked this blouse. HAH! 

I wore the retro ruffled darling the very next day to a YLF gathering, but styled differently to what I had originally imagined. Instead of going neutral I threw in some shocking pink and did some pattern mixing just for fun. The pink was just the happy bright I needed to create a little sunshine on an awfully wet Seattle day. Here are the exact pieces of the outfit. 

After road-testing the blouse that day I’m pleased to report that I felt fab. In fact I want to add another soft ruffled blouse to my blouse capsule because I’m loving the vibe. Trying the trend on the cheap — and liking it — has made me confident about purchasing the look at a higher price point. Perhaps this strategy will work for you too.