It’s always fascinating to me which fashion trends catch on with the general public. While the fashion and entertainment industries introduce hundreds of cutting edge looks each year, only a handful are adopted by the masses.
Sometimes, they’re good.
More often, they’re bad.
And, unfortunately, are often adopted by people who bare little resemblance to whomever originated the trend. Yet people of all ages and sizes quickly copy the look, often with questionable results.
That’s what’s I’ve been thinking in recent weeks, after seeing the same poorly-executed looks again and again. Here are five trends that need to stop NOW, in my opinion:
Unnatural Hair Color
Peacock. Lavender. Burgundy. It’s cutting edge on Katy Perry and Kelly Osborne; no so much on the “average Jane.” Yet I keep seeing unnatural color hair on women all up and down the east coast. And frankly, it looks bad – because 95% don’t bother with the upkeep. Weird hair color is jolting enough, but weird hair color with obvious roots? Tacky.
Leggings as Pants
I wasn’t fond of leggings the last time they were popular in the early 90’s, but at least most women had enough sense back then to wear tunics or sweaters to cover their bottoms and thighs. That filter is long gone. Which means you can’t help but see every nook and cranny – and on some, it’s enough to make you lose your lunch.
I was walking behind a heavy-set woman who was wearing black leggings with wide, lime-colored vertical stripes. With every step, her thighs jiggled and swayed so much that those vertical stripes looked like slithering snakes. It was creepy. Not to mention inappropriate.
Easter Egg Colored Nails
Pastel colored fingernail polish is nothing new, and peach and light pink have been around for decades. But light green, sky blue, and lavender haven’t, and when you paint each nail a different pastel color, your nails look like Easter eggs. Which is cute when you’re 10. Not so much when you’re 30. How do you conduct serious business with a woman whose fingernails look like a child’s? You don’t. All you wonder is what other child-like behavior she’s going to bring to the table.
I danced en pointe for five years, and it ruined my feet for the next ten. I refused to wear open-toe shoes until all the callouses were gone because I didn’t want to offend anyone. Sadly, most others couldn’t care less – and now nasty feet seems to have become a trend. Unsightly nails, cracked heels, hair on toes – how is this fashionable? Or is it just laziness? I don’t get it. But I do know that if they can’t be bothered with the grooming they show in public, I don’t even want to know what’s going on with the grooming they keep private.
For centuries, a tan was the sign of the working class, because only laborers toiled in the sun. Then, when Coco Chanel stepped off a yacht in the South of France sporting a tan in the 1930’s, it became a sign of the leisure class, because only those with money had time to bask in the sun. By the 1970’s people were slathering themselves in baby oil and laying on reflecting mats to “catch some rays.” By the 1990’s, they were wishing they hadn’t as skin-related cancers skyrocketed.
Today, most people recognize the dangers of tanning and stay away from it. Like smoking, it hasn’t been fashionable for years. So what’s up with the renewed interest in spray tans? And orange, no less? Hardly anyone looks good in orange.
We were sitting at a stoplight a few days ago when my 16 year old daughter started giggling.
“What?” I asked.
“See the woman next to us?”
I looked. It was a woman in her 40’s who had burgundy hair, false eyelashes, a spray tan, and fake fingernails.
“What about her?” I asked.
“I was just wondering what kind of deep conversation you could have with someone that shallow.”
I’ve been thinking about that comment for days.
Because it’s profound.
It shows an insight most people don’t grasp in a lifetime.
Yes, the woman may very well be smart as a whip and sweet as sugar. But all the artifice speaks to a fascination with the superficial, not scholarship.
And first impressions tend to be right.
Because how you look and act conveys so much more than you realize.
There’s nothing wrong with following trends; in fact, in business, it’s vital to be seen as current instead of out of date.
But you have to be careful which trends you follow.
- Crazy colored hair and nails are off-putting in most business situations.
- Unkempt grooming says you’re not into details.
- Trendy but unflattering clothes implies you’re desperate to fit in – and that you’re a follower, not a leader.
Once you learn how to “read” others using their manners and dress, you’ll save a lot of time and trouble.
There’s a scene from Up In The Air (2009) where George Clooney’s character is schooling Anna Kendrick on how to quickly get through airport security lines. It’s about as politically incorrect as it gets, but it’s startlingly accurate:
That stereotyping he does? That’s what others do to you all the time, whether they say it or not.
Those five trends I listed:
- Unnatural Hair Color
- Leggings as Pants
- Easter Egg Colored Nails
- Unshod Feet
- Spray Tans
All have one thing in common: they’re off-putting to others. Because we look at the trend instead of the person wearing it. It becomes a barrier.
If that’s what you want, by all means, drive people away.
But if that’s not your goal, think carefully about which trends you follow. It will make a huge difference in how people respond to you and ultimately impact your bottom line.
Diana Pemberton-Sikes is an image consultant and creator of Signature Style Blueprint, an ecourse that shows women how to create a signature style using their best features and favorite accessories. Want to be as memorable as Audrey Hepburn or Jacqueline Kennedy? Signature Style Blueprint will show you how.