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What Do Trends Really Mean?

By Nicole Blevins

Spring 2024 Fashion Trends from Glamour Magazine ― Gabrielle Langdon / Getty

Everyone wants to fit in. Whether it be with their family, best friends, or people they want to be friends with, there are things we change about ourselves to live up to a certain standard. Sometimes those standards are made up for us, but most of the time we make up a set of beliefs that we think we need to align with. We put on a pretty face for everyone to look at, but when we’re alone, do we even like what we see?

I feel this way a lot when I look at different fashion trends. Over the last year, a myriad of clothing became incredibly popular: ballet flats, low-rise jeans, crochet tops, cargo pants, casual sneakers, and the list goes on. I often find myself wearing utility-style jeans and tight long-sleeve shirts that show the smallest slip of my stomach with a slick back hair-do, but is that really me? I’m the girl who loves color and patterns and flowy materials, but my closet is full of neutrals and tight-fitting clothes. How did I get here and how do I get out? The problem is the deep, underlying desire to be someone that people admire. A lot of young men and women, especially in college, are still trying to figure out who they are and what they like. We get so caught up in trying to be someone else that we forget everything we’ve ever wanted to be. There is this backward ideology in society that says when we are confident, we should not care, and if we do care, we are not confident. In a way, I think the way we dress is a huge reflection of that. 

I feel that I am a very confident person, but I’m not confident in what I wear. I don’t take many risks. I stay where it is comfortable, which moves towards what has been trending. At the same time, though, some people are praised for creating trends, even as the followers of those trends are perceived as being basic. Lately, there isn’t even enough time to consider whether we like the trends before another one completely takes over. Social media influencers are now largely responsible for setting the standards that we try so hard to achieve. Because they are not traditional “celebrities”, they purport to have a more authentic quality that attracts a lot of young people to their pages. Our generation puts a lot of trust in influencers for being “real”, and, with that, we see how they present themselves and we try to copy it. 

Now most influencers have Amazon storefronts and discount codes which disseminate trends faster than ever before. We don’t even realize what we are buying before we click purchase, when, oftentimes, the only goal in sight is to be like someone we idolize on the internet. There is something so rewarding about being a part of something exclusive, but we start to abuse it when there is no deeper meaning behind the items in our shopping carts beyond what it represents to others. How is it that pieces of fabric have become such large signifiers of who we are?

Some people want nothing to do with social media trends. They dress for themselves and to compliment their personalities, but even the idea of “being different” has become a popular accessory, so are we even escaping it? Our personal image is so important to us, whether we know it or not. What we see on the outside is only surface level, and in reality, there can be much deeper connections to the style choices we make. When people truly start to think more introspectively there is less of an influence from the outer world. And, as a result, trends don’t really come to mean anything more than what a few people initially think should be higher on the pecking order. 

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