Trendy or Timeless? 3 Style Lessons That Stand the Test of Time

Woman in a clothing store looking down at shirt optionsI have spent more dollars than I’d like to admit on trying to keep up with the ever-changing fashion trends. I’ve loved fashion since I was a little girl, changing the outfits on my paper dolls and scribbling “designs” into a notebook. This passion for fashion has stayed with me ever since. 

After a while, I realized that many of the trends I was chasing didn’t always fit with my style, budget, or lifestyle. Like, where did I think I was going to wear that lavender matte lipstick in 2016? And don’t even get me started on the neon-colored, plastic statement jewelry I collected all through my high school preppy phase.  

To my chagrin, I also realized that many things that fell “out of style” quickly came “back in” a few months or years later after I had already sworn them off despite my true affinity for them (I’m talking to you, skinny jeans). 

Fighting the urge to always be trendy is a lesson I continue to learn! After a few failed fashion experiments and many bags of Goodwill donations later, here are three lessons I’ve learned along the way to help me balance the trend cycle with my personal style — and my wallet! 

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Adopt the “one in, one out” rule

Whenever I buy something new for my wardrobe, I donate one (or more) items that I haven’t worn in a while. While deciding which item to donate, I’m forced to confront clothes and shoes that I wore once and forgot about or wore once before they fell apart. They may have been super on-trend and stylish at one point, but I’m tossing them in the donation bin six months later. 

This “one in, one out” exercise also helps me get a sense of my personal style by taking note of things I keep and things I’m happy to get rid of. So the next time I’m shopping, I know which items are truly worth buying, and which won’t get much mileage. Not to mention, donating clothes is a million times better for the environment than throwing them out. Other great options are reselling the items on websites like Poshmark and Depop, or letting your friends raid your closet!

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Experiment with trends that don’t require buying something new

I know I said donating clothes helps the environment, but an even better choice would be not making needless purchases at all. This means shopping your closet! I’m always baffled when things I wore in middle and high school come back in style. 

A few years ago, layering T-shirts underneath tank tops became trendy. This was something I did in middle school to comply with the dress code, but then Kendall Jenner did it and it was suddenly back in style. Instead of running out to buy two new shirts to layer, I used what I already had. 

Other ways to experiment include trying new hairstyles — right now I’m a big fan of mini braids, makeup techniques (like wearing blush on the bridge of your nose), or nail art trends. 

Accessories are another way to experiment with trends without breaking the bank. DIY beaded jewelry, cheap Amazon sunglasses, fold-over socks, belt bags (otherwise known as fanny packs)… the list goes on for low-cost ways to experiment with different trends without overhauling your entire wardrobe. 

RELATED: How to Shop Your Own Closet

Remember that confidence is always in style

Like I said earlier, things have a way of coming back in style when you’d least expect it. So if you’re loving a certain item or style of clothing, there’s a good chance it was considered trendy at one point and will come back in style eventually. 

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And until then, there’s nothing more attractive and eye-catching than someone who feels confident in their skin and happy with what they’re wearing. Living in New York has helped me a lot with practicing this – there are so many people around, all with different styles and flairs. I’ve realized that frankly, no one really cares what I’m wearing – everyone is strutting their stuff. So why should I stress about being “cool” or “trendy”? Especially when trends change so much! 

As designer Yves Saint Laurent once said, “Fashions fade, style is eternal.” At the end of the day, the best clothes to wear are the ones YOU feel best in, regardless of what Vogue or fashion influencers think.

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Francesca is a devoted cat mom (and Taylor Swift fan) currently living in New York City. She is pursuing a Masters degree in teaching. In her free time, she loves visiting museums, hiking/spending time outdoors, and reading. Her favorite Starbucks order is a chai latte with almond milk.