In the realm of fashion and dress sense, there are many words and concepts used to describe the way we dress. We might subscribe to a particular concept or other, and these concepts may influence our buying choices. However, understanding the difference between trendy, fashionable and stylish can have a positive effect on your wardrobe, wallet and appearance.
Here’s one example of why that is true: it’s shockingly easy to fill your closet with items that (however cool or attractive on their own) don’t really complement many of the other items you own. Thus you never end up wearing them, you feel like you’ve got a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear… and your precious dollars have essentially been flushed down the U-bend.
Will you be trendy, fashionable or stylish?
Many people mistake being trendy for being fashionable, or being fashionable for being stylish. You could be forgiven for mixing up any of those concepts… however they are not the same thing! There is a fine line between trendy and fashionable, but being stylish is something else entirely. Let’s take a deeper look into the concepts behind trends, fashion and stylish:
The riskier choice: Trendy
There is nothing wrong with being trendy per se, but if you want to pull it off, you need to understand both fashion and style. Being trendy is easy: you only need to understand what is popular right now. Anyone with eyes in their head or a couple of spare dollars for a fashion magazine can manage to be trendy. For something to be trendy, it only needs to generate a lot of interest quickly. People are often reeled in by novelty, which is why there will always be a market for trendy apparel… but trends are by definition short-lived.
Something might be trendy for a month or two, before at best fading out and being forgotten; at worst, becoming ridiculous and even embarrassing to wear. To give you an example, platform shoes were trendy at one point. Now we can probably get away with saying that they are cumbersome and unattractive… but there was a time when they seemed like a must-have item! Would you wear them now? We are guessing not – and if you did, your friends might think you’d had a funny turn.
Being trendy is only about being up-to-date, but if you don’t also understand the intricacies of what makes an outfit work, there are no guarantees your choices will be attractive. Blind trendiness tends to be quite obvious, especially to the trained eye. You’ll also spend a lot of money on clothes, given the speed at which most trends fade out!
The middle-road choice: Fashionable
The words trendy and fashionable are often used interchangeably, but they are not exactly the same thing; there is another angle on fashionable – one that may make it seem more appealing than trendy. Like trendy, fashionable relates to what is popular, but the difference lies in timescales. If something is fashionable, it still holds appeal for an extended period of time. Fashionable clothing is not a ‘flash in the pan’ choice.
If you want to know for sure if something is fashionable, consider how popular it is and whether it has stood the test of time for a year or more. Good examples of fashionable apparel might include jeans, statement sneakers, hoodies and little black dresses… The ‘LBD’ could only have gained such a memorable nickname because it has stood the test of time. Branding and styles aside, most people will continue to wear jeans – it stands to reason, as Levi Strauss set that ball rolling in 1873, and it’s still going strong. Hoodies are popular with all age groups and genders, and they’re showing no signs of disappearing any time soon.
Generally, fashionable clothing is well made and can be considered classic. Provided it fits those criteria, people will always buy it. So if you’re fashionable, you are likely to be into quality clothes that lots of other people also like. It may now be obvious why following trends doggedly wouldn’t necessarily mean you have a fashionable wardrobe.
The ultimate choice: Stylish
Why is being stylish the ultimate choice? Well, stylish is the opposite of trendy and fashionable. If you’re trendy, you’re conforming to someone else’s version of what is ‘cool’ at any given time. If you’re fashionable, you are probably playing it safe but perhaps while incorporating your own preferences. For example, you like jeans but you prefer brand-name skinny jeans that flatter your shape, rather than nondescript supermarket jeans.
A person with style isn’t particularly concerned with what looks good on other people, or what fashion editors think hard-earned cash should be spent on. Stylish people are only concerned with unique self-expression. They want to show you who they are through their clothing choices. This means they won’t conform to any particular trends and they won’t be happy with anything generic. Their outfits will be an eclectic mix of items and the way they are put together will depend on mood.
Being someone with personal style means knowing which shapes, colors and patterns flatter their body and skin tone, etc. They don’t care if what they put together is ‘relevant’ or ‘current’. Rather than following the crowd, they follow their own senses. They have a strong awareness of what suits their true personality and how to convey that personality without words.
The killer combo: Stylish and Fashionable
If you have a strong sense of style, you can also be fashionable – without damaging that personal style. The bottom line is that you already know what suits you, since you’ve assessed your appearance in a diverse range of outfits honestly and intuitively. You probably have an instinct for what looks great on you, and you can mix timeless classics, one-off pieces and fashionable items to maintain your own personal style.
When you are genuinely stylish, you are able to use fashion to your advantage. Most items in a stylish person’s closet will be timeless and classic, and if they add a fashionable or trendy item to it, it’s only because it suits them and complements other items they own.