Young people have a strong connection to personal style as a form of expression and a creative outlet. However, as there is more and more fashion content on social media platforms, it can be easy to fall into the allure of mirroring someone whose sense of style is the ideal in the moment.
Being secure in a sense of style that feels unique has become increasingly hard as trends and influencers dominate social media.
In the last few years, micro-trends have accelerated the pace of what is in or out of popular style. Items produced in this new trend cycle last through about one or two seasons, and then are thrown out when the new exciting trends pop up to dominate our Instagram and TikTok feeds.
Considering this constant reinvention, young people may feel they don’t have a developed personal style. Amidst the mountain of influencers posting their outfits and offering clothing recommendations, people’s true opinions become muffled.
It is not uncommon for people — especially on social media — to have a label on their preferred style. Y2k, grunge, balletcore, streetwear, gorpcore, preppy — these endless descriptors can easily be put into Pinterest, followed by phrases like “outfit ideas,” “aesthetic outfits” and “style inspiration” to call up thousands of images and posts featuring outfits from all over the internet.
It’s so easy to get sucked into a cycle of following these different inspiration pictures and the creators attached to them, molding your wardrobe to fit the confines of what someone else’s style is.
Influence over our sense of style can also come from right next to us — the people we see on public transit, in class or walking around the city force us to look at what everyone is wearing. Too often, this leads us to compare our own style to others.
When there are millions of young people all over the world hanging on to every word from the endless style influencer, it becomes increasingly difficult to ask: where do the trends stop, and I begin?
Fashion has always been a referential industry with designers often adapting concepts from others to fit their own brand aesthetic, but on an individual level, copying or carefully referencing someone else’s sense of style can lead to a loss of personal style.
For myself, personal style is something that I constantly reference, questioning whether a new piece or trend fits within what I want to portray or if I have been exposed to it so much that I associate it with being “in fashion.”
The one thing that is hardest to get over is the unconscious desire to buy — which I am sure is not uncommon — especially now. I have a much smaller collection of clothes than when I was younger, and as a result, have gotten more creative with how to reuse these pieces to extend their longevity.
There is nothing inherently wrong with indulging and buying something that is trending if it is something that you like and want to incorporate into your wardrobe. The underlying issue is buying a trending skirt simply for the sake of the trend.
When we start buying items for the sole fact that they are popular, clothing and style stops being a mode of expression and becomes something boring that we do for approval from the rest of society.
Personal style as a concept is so intimate and individual, but in recent years it has been overruled in favor of following momentary trends. I cannot believe that I am the only one who has to pause before making a purchase to ask — “do I truly like this style or is it just what is dominating the current culture?”