We have more choices than ever before, and it's great! My challenge has mostly been figuring out where to find the items I want. Middle aged women are for the most part being force fed a certain style that is tauted as being age appropriate. You have to get past the local mall and department stores, and go to boutiques and other places if you want anything else. Sorry for the rant. I just had to get this off my chest.

Gryffin, very well said.

Suz, I think you may have caught my canktankerousness from the polish thread. I think most of us, whether modern classic, UWP, or others, cherry pick the trends we want to adopt. Some adopt more than others. Even alternative styles do evolve somewhat, so they too have trends. I think of trends as the item and style as more how we put it into an outfit. Like how we take a lemming item and each make it our own.

Sterling, I did understand (I think) what people were saying; I'm one of those people saying it, in fact! At any rate, I definitely fall into the camp of those who would like to develop a focused personal style. (I don't consider myself "there" yet -- but maybe I'll never be; I'm a bit of a work in progress, and also, I think the flux is part of what it's all about!)

But you might be onto something. A grumpy mood will leave one unduly sensitive!!

Gryffin, so true -- just because we have preferences does not necessarily imply a negative judgement about others. I can love a look on someone else that I would never try for myself -- not because I lack daring (or whatever quality might be needed to try that look) but simply because it wouldn't be "me" in some deep way.

On the topic of being "mainstream" -- I don't consider this forum mainstream! What's popular on the forum is (typically) virtually unknown and often unavailable where I live. At minimum, unusual. Okay, we do have skinny jeans here. And booties. And lots and lots of black puffer coats. But I don't often see people in white jeans (forum staple) or in all black with rich textural interest (forum staple) or in daytime sparkle (forum staple) or cool draped avant garde pieces (forum staple) or even in commonly available pencil skirts!! Mona and I have sighed many a sigh about "our little town." OTOH, I'm not sure where "mainstream" is, any more. I don't know if any of us knows! I think the forum is a sort of little world unto itself -- our standards are formed by communing with one another together with all the outside influences each of us brings -- and it's a highly nutritious salad!

Karie, you add another layer to this discussion that might be helpful. Fashion, personal style PLUS trend. Hmmm.

Shedev, that's a really great way to put it. It's similar to what Karie is trying to say. Or, in other words, style is all in the styling, Annagybe might say.

And, yes....maybe I need to get a mood adjustment.

Bettycrocker, I'm curious about the style you feel is foisted on women our age range in the malls? I ask in all sincerity as someone who hardly ever gets to the mall (and whose mall is pretty well bereft of stores apart from those intended for teens.)

IMO someone who has personal style is a person who is a superb sailor in the sea of fashion. They navigate the treacherous currents & they don't get be-calmed & bored. How they do this is different for each & everyone of them. They all belong to the Seafarers Union while sailing their own ships
They also have a great appreciation of anyone who braves the stormy fashion waters year after year.

Suz, Maybe the word you're looking for can be borrowed from my world. How does dialectic work? It's not a fashion term but it does connote two ends of a spectrum. Like good and bad, or black and white. I don't think they have to be opposites but there should be some sort of tension between them. People naturally gravitate towards dialectics and often fail to consider what comes between. The most common being black and white thinking and failing to see shades of grey that fall in the middle.

Argggh!!! Runs screaming from the room....I did a paper on Kant's "Dialectical Imperative" as an undergrad....

Oh boy. I think I need to go lie down in the snow.

(Just teasing, Staysfit!)

Caro, you nailed it, as usual. We are all stalwart sailors, each with a different rope to coil and jib to hoist!

Seriously, you've all given me much to ponder, not least the wisdom of Mr. Suz when he cautioned me about my crummy mood!

Here Here Suz! Thanks for the shout-out to those of us who enjoy trying out and/or adopting the trends!
I've noticed in some of the comments on this thread that some people are making a distinction between current and trendy - I'm wondering what the difference is between the two?
Also, I personally think that every single person has a personal style - regardless of whether it is intentional or not. I've gotten the impression on the forum over the last couple of weeks that those who are working on developing a personal style are actually just trying to identify and stay true to it - putting thought and intention into what they buy and what they wear. But even if they did not do that - they'd still have a personal style, wouldn't they?

Sterling, you say "fashion victim" like it's a bad thing!?

Oh and Deborah and Suz -- thanks for identifying my personal style as trend-driven. I'll take it as a compliment! I think experimenting with trends is fun. Period. And although I am not confident in all matters, I have never worried too much if people judged me for "trying too hard" when it comes to style.

Denise, it was most definitely expressed as a compliment

Suz, the mall offerings (at least where I live, which has a lot more stores than most towns) has shapeless clothes that my DDs call frumpy and that I call matronly. They'd be fine for an 80-year-old, I suppose, but not for me. I see a lot of women my age wearing that stuff, but it's not for me. The worst part is that you see the same stuff in store after store after store ad nauseum. It's like all the buyers go to the same source. If I wore only what I could find in town, I wouldn't have most of what's in my closet right now, and I wouldn't be happy.

Still, look at it another way. Teens have the same problem. If they don't want to wear what's offered at the local stores, they also have to look elsewhere.

Like I said, middle aged women are expected to look a certain way. Whenever I go to the mall, which I hardly ever do anymore except when shopping with my youngest DD, all I see is a sea of sameness. The same merchandise in every store. There's no variety. Nothing to distinguish Belks from J.C. Penneys from Macy's. They're all the same.

Absolutely a compliment, Denise! And Marley, too.

Marley, you raise two really great points. I am not sure what is meant by the distinction between "current" and "trendy" either. To me they are the same -- but I think sometimes people use "trendy" as a pejorative, and that's what I was trying to call into question a little bit.

Also, you're right -- even if people don't try consciously to define their style, they have some kind of style. But if is is diffuse or unfocused it might not feel like much of a style. That's true for me, anyway. Before I joined YLF and for a long time afterwards I was convinced I had no style at all, and even now I wonder....

caro's analogy (extended metaphor?) is pure poetry. Mine's a lot more crass: maybe fashion is just an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Some people (usually young and skinny) can sample everything and enjoy it. Some people eat too much (overbuy, hoard, shop for a fantasy life) and feel guilty. Some people are gluten-intolerant (sized out of what they'd like) and some are watching their carbs (budget). Some used to eat everything but can't as they get older. Some are vegetarians, some kosher, some bring their own food to the party ... (Okay, I'll stop.)

With fashion, most of us have "dietary restrictions" in terms of what looks good on us, what we can afford, what we feel comfortable facing the world in. Some restrictions might be self-imposed (no dessert), and maybe we can relax them now and then. (This analogy is breaking down the longer I drag it out ...)

My personal problem with the fashion buffet is that -- even with all the choices out there -- I usually can't find just what I'm hungry for.

I think this ties in with Kibbe in that, he would argue, we just have to declare certain sections of the table off limits (for me, anything delicate) and enjoy the variety of what we can have.

I think I get it, Bettycrocker -- thanks for elaborating.

Now here is something. Our very own Transcona Shannon is (IMO) an absolute genius because she can turn even the most unlikely items from the most unlikely mall store into pure gold in her closet. There's a mall store known as Cleo up here. It is not *bad* I guess, and they do have some nice looking items (although it is very difficult to tell that judging from their online presence). Be that as it may, they also offer a lot of items that to me, at any rate, look like pure duds. Frumpalicious!!

But I have seen Shannon take some of those pieces and incorporate them into her wardrobe and make them look unbelievably great. She shops there partly because it's available and it's one of the few petites options around up here -- and by leaving no retail stone unturned, she truly makes it work!

Having said that, I don't have similar luck. But I guess my point is, with fabulous styling abilities like Shannon's, it's amazing what you can do with mall dross.

Gauche, I actually LOVE that analogy!! So much truth in that. Hmmm.

For years, I was some kind of fashion anorexic, never even going to the table at all.

I like the vast online buffet a lot more than the extremely limited mall buffet.

Continuing with the food analogy, I am a very picky eater. Just like with food, it is not always good for my health, or in this case, the closet.

Suz, how could you create such an interesting thread for me to read while my first coffee is still only half drunk? Ok, I know Angie has said many times that there is no style without fashion and I totally agree with her.

I will amplify that to say that a big part of the fun of style for me is fashion. Fashion week starts soon and I can't wait! No I do not purchase designer clothes from the new season (I would but that is not in my budget). But I love having my eye informed and trained by what is new and then apply it to what I see in all sorts of stores and my closet. Fashion is what makes style a dynamic process and not just another goal to tick off. I feel like I often say style is knowing what we want to copy - I will add fashion is a lot of what we are copying.

What a great thread! Karie said something that kind of struck a chord with me...Fashion is kind of the big picture and trends and personal style are part of it. I feel that personal style and trends (btw, I think current and trends are the same animal too Marley) are the two things that can be mixed together either in equal parts or more of one than the other along a continuum. However, to Debs point that there will probably always be a bit of trend in our PS if we are buying from all the big stores as they all buy stock from what is current.

Suz, this is a great point to raise, as what a shame if anyone feels judged in these type of discussions. As gryffin mentions, I think generally people are commenting on their own personal preferences, not making judgments. Personally, I think it's the diversity on the forum that makes it interesting - I would not be interested in a forum of "me" - what a bore!

For me, personal style is what we use to filter fashion - we all deal in fashion as we are all buying clothes to some extent. Similarly, we all deal in style because none of us buys EVERYTHING; we have to make choices. Some of us have a style that filters more (e.g. could be a more conservative, classic style), or less (e.g. could be more edgy, trendy, or fashion-forward style). To borrow a thought from The Devil Wears Prada, some of us prefer to buy virtually off the runway, others wait to see what trickles down to Banana Republic (and all points in between). And a very few of us, like E., seem to transcend the whole thing, but I think she is quite a rarity indeed!

Personally I am very grateful for all these types on the forum, and so glad this thread came about!

Great thread Suz! Loads of great comments and insight

I'm reminded of this article from Vanity Fair, speculating that fashion is all but over:


I don't agree with his thesis entirely, but he has a point. Being "trendy" now means something altogether different from what it meant 20 years ago. There's so much diversity out there that what you choose to wear has become much more about personal choice rather than this or that fashion. And as many people have already pointed out, trends vary with location and subculture.

So I'm not at all sure I know what "being trendy" means any more. There are certainly changes to what's in the shops but there are also many normalised solutions that have been around for years (skinny jeans and parkas). And there's more scope than ever to create a personally authentic look that sidesteps any of those.

I don't think I've ever been bothered about being particularly trendy in the sense of wearing the same styles as everyone else, or wearing the latest new thing from the catwalk just for the sake of it. I quite enjoy being ahead of the curve, but I also know I'll find a way to wear wide legged pants every year whether they're fashionable or not.

I love looking at fashion. I take influence from what I see around me and wear what feels personally relevant that season. I apply my own aesthetic values to my shopping choices and work with the results. Does that make me trendy? Probably not.

Aproprio, that's a really interesting article. Thank you!

I would count you as one who has unique personal style informed by trends. I.e. fashion is not irrelevant to you and you don't pretend it is; nonetheless, you do not look like everyone else at any given time.

Maybe that's what we all strive for.

What a gigantic, fascinating thread!

If Caro's right, then I'm like that line from the hymn ....."For those in peril on the Sea!" I have beached myself in a Sunfish more than once -- literally and metaphorically! I love Caro's analogy, and to Gauche's point (which I'm partial to because, well, I'm left handed):

I think limitations are a form of freedom. They help us filter what is increasingly umlimited choice through our values and needs. I chafe against the limitations (size 14, please, in B/M stores, and on sale), but I think I would definitely be "adrift" at the dessert table without them.

As for the interaction on the forum: I find it most helpful to exegete (borrowing a useful word from my DH's world) comments by interpreting within the immediate context. DH calls this "coming to terms with the writer." I'm trying to discern what Forum Member X intends to convey when referring to "fashion" versus "personal style," or "trendy" versus "stylish." I also realize that we all reveal bits of insecurities in posts that can also be scene as vague, low-level critiques of others. I, for one, am reticent to ever call myself fashionable or stylish. Curiously, the better I feel about myself on a given day, the more beauty and style I see in others. The forum has helped me grow in this area as much as it has assisted me in building my wardrobe, and I'm so grateful!

Beth Ann, that's a lovely insight; thank you.

And yes. I am sure my grumpy mood may have made me a poorer "reader" at least for a moment. Even a poorer reader of myself (since I was including myself in this mini- caution/ critique.)

Mea culpa, all.

Personal style. One of my favorite quotes about being personal comes from the movie "You've Got Mail:"

It wasn't personal.
What's that supposed to mean? All that means is it wasn't personal to you, but it was personal to me. What's so wrong with being personal anyway?

Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.

Style is personal. Style begins by being personal. Fashion by itself isn't personal, in its broadness it's used to describe all that's in the stores and on the runways. When we bring it into our homes and incorporate it into our style, that's when it becomes personal style.

I like blazers, my friend Wendy likes cardigans. Both are current/trendy (pretty much the same thing, but a slight difference I think). My personal style includes plenty of blazers, hers doesn't. But here's where it gets fuzzy: My lifestyle is dressier than hers; she inspects parachutes in a factory, I teach in a school. So how much of our personal style is influenced / dictated by our lifestyle? Ah, more food for thought!

Funny I'm not sure what is trendy anymore. It often feels like everything is trendy now-a-days because everything is available in the stores. Blazers, check. Cardigans, check. Pullovers, check. I recall when it would be very hard to purchase these pieces at one time, and one would have to wait a season or two (or more) until more options came out. But now I feel like one can find these pieces year round. Now COLORS, that I feel still is rather trendy and they float in and out of the stores fast. I was in a store this weekend, and it was all greys. But a month or two back, it was all blues.

I love Caro's metaphor! Maybe it'll make it into Angie's blog some day.

Finally having a chance to reply to this thread - and what a fascinating topic and read Suz. Thank you so much for starting the discussion

IMHO you cannot have style (and totally agree with Karie that anyone's style is their personal style) without taking part in the trends - at least to a degree. But this has left me wondering if a person can have personal style without being stylish?

For example, say wearing a suit is part of someone's personal style - they have a collection of suits and wear them often, like a uniform. But if those same suits are several years old and the lapels aren't a current size and the button stance is dated, is that person stylish?

And if you do not buy trendy items, can you still make an ensemble look current in the way you combine those items? I guess that relates to my Cleo items...by the way, thank you for your incredibly generous compliment Cleo is many things but trendy really isn't one of them. And yes I shop there because they are located here and carry petite items which fit me well. But oh my goodness, they can veer into frumpy and "old lady"! But if I take that floral dress and pair it with a denim jacket and ankle booties (for example) does that now make the outfit trendy?

In the end, we all shop and wear what feels right for us and makes us happy - or at least we're supposed to right?

You know it is always risky to try to generalize and to try to imagine what someone else is thinking.

But, I'll dive in to say, let's flip the concept on its head.

If the question is asked of say, most everyone on the forum, "Are you trying to develop your personal style", what would likely be the answer? Is it likely to be yes, or, heck no, I'm trying to develop style for someone else, or, I'm trying to develop impersonal style or, I aspire to be a huge fashion victim.

Feel free to shoot me down on this because there are actually other choices that are not even related such as, I just want to find some comfortable shoes.

Just lookin' at the dialectic from a different angle.