Today I’m going to talk about the way I use some common fashion terms here on YLF. The differences between some of the terms are subtle. And they are used differently by different fashion professionals. In those cases I’m not claiming my definition is better. It’s just mine. 

Trendy: An item is trendy when it’s on-trend. Trends typically last five to seven years, and sometimes even longer. Trends can be fringe or mainstream. Fring trends are those that are only adopted by a smallish subset of consumers. Some trends start out fringe and go mainstream later. Some go mainstream right away, and some stay fringe forever. Although trendy items are current, current is not a synonym for trendy. A look or item can be current, but not on-trend. For example, moto jackets are current, but not on-trend.

Current: Current means not dated. Items are current when they are not necessarily on-trend or fashionable, but they are in style. A pair of mid-rise skinny jeans or a simple knee-length pencil skirt are current items, but not trendy items. Modern classics are current. I put the word modern with the word classic because classics can date, needing a periodic refresh as the trends evolve.

Dated: Dated means not current. It applies when an item or look has passed its trendy and stylish expiry date. What is considered dated these days is as clear as mud because it’s extremely subjective and almost anything goes. With all sorts of silhouettes, looks and combinations coming back into fashion, items are less prone to looking dated, and that’s a good thing. It’s more of a personal question for the wearer because what looks dated to one person is not to another.

Fad: A fashion trend that is short-lived and over in one season or less. Fashion fads are rare these days, because trends last a lot longer than they used to. This is another great way in which fashion has evolved.

Modern Retro: Modern Retro means that you’re incorporating a style, trend or design from a bygone era AND adding a good dose of modern or current to the look. Retro items are new pieces, not vintage items that were actually made during those eras. Integrating a dose of a bygone fashion era into your look defies the trends and holds its own these days. That’s why I feel that the retro chunky white pearl necklaces that I wear daily and with anything defy the trends and don’t look dated.

Just to complicate matters, adding a dose of specific era into your look can be trendy if those fashion eras are on-trend at the moment. For example, it’s all about the ‘80s and ‘90s influences in fashion right now, so you’re on-trend wearing them.

Vintage: Wardrobe items that are older than twenty years. The risk of these items looking dated is high, but there is a hip factor associated with wearing them if you can make them look current — even on-trend — in an outfit. For example, high-rise classic jeans (aka Mom jeans) and high-rise straight jeans are vintage items you’ll find in a thrift store. You can make them look fashionably right when you combine them with a good dose of current.

Fashion-Forward: A look or item that is ahead of its time. Fashion-forward items and outfit combinations can become on-trend and completely mainstream at a later date. Think of how unfathomable it was to wear sneakers with dressier outfits a couple of decades ago. The juxtaposition was absurdly fashion-forward. Now sneakers look fine, even fabulous, with most outfits. The goalposts for what is regular fashion and fashion-forward keeps on shifting.

Avant-Garde: Unique, experimental, daring, dramatic, and somewhat architectural looks and wardrobe items that defy the trends. They are modern, current, and always in style. The most recognizable avant-garde retailer is Scandinavian COS.

Do your own definitions differ for any of these terms?