the effect of microtrends on our wardrobes

Warning! Has your wardrobe consisted of the following: cowboy boots, the house of sunny dress or parachute pants? I hate to say it… you may be a victim of following micro trends.

Bella Hadid with parachute pants via Instagram 

We have all had to answer the dreaded question at least once: ‘Do I like it or is it trending?’ It’s a question that can send shivers down your spine. One that forces you to face the influence social media has on your wardrobe. More recently I have struggled with this – I almost bought a pair of Salomon trainers, despite my inability to read a map and intense hatred for camping and the outdoors. Trying to find your own place in the world of fashion can be hard for some, especially with an influx of micro trends flying about. While no one can deny the devastating effects micro trends have on the environment, many often forget the effects they have on our sense of self and style.

‘Micro trends’ feel like a dirty word in the discourse of fashion and cultural analysis. If anything, the term serves as a bleak reminder of the rapid way in which social media is influencing the once cyclical fashion cycle. If you are unfamiliar with the term, an article published by the cavalier daily defines micro trends as fashion pieces, often inspired by celebrities and influencers, that are only meant to last for the duration of a fashion season. Think marble print clothing or the Amazon corset, those are (or were) micro trends. We once saw them everywhere, but now, they are simply a distant memory. The influence of social media, namely TikTok, has paved the way for micro trends to dominate both the fashion cycle and our wardrobes.

Unfortunately, micro trends ultimately impact what our view of style is. When you constantly see a piece everywhere, it can feel confusing differentiating between what is stylish and what is a micro trend. Yes, it can feel thrilling to know you are wearing items similar to those donned by Bella Hadid, but how does it align with your own personal style? The use of phrases such as ‘must have’ subconsciously tell us that we, well, ‘must have’ these items – when that is in fact not true. When our idea of fashion is fuelled by following micro trends, an unrealistic fear of social ostracization starts to emerge, subsequently leading to overconsumption and empty purchases.

In order to overcome this, finding your personal style is the solution. By figuring out what works for you, you can pick and choose what trends to partake in. However, this may be easier said than done, especially when social media (the land of micro trends), feels like the enemy.

There is, of course, a financial component to keeping up with micro trends. With new micro trends creeping up on our screens every week, the attempt to keep up with the latest clothing items can become an economic burden. Take the popular Arc’teryx jacket. It has become a staple within the gorp-core trend. While this jacket may feel like the latest ‘it item’, becoming a statement piece for the ultimate cool girl cosplaying as a hiker, it does lean on the higher end of the price spectrum.

Not everyone can afford them, ultimately widening the gap between who is considered as fashionable and who is not. It is no surprise that BNPL (buy now pay later) schemes are so appealing to young people, as they allow us to buy into trends immediately. However, the economic repercussions of said schemes are monstrous. Citizen advice reports that a quarter of young people involved in buy now pay later schemes have not been able to pay for food, rent or bills as a result.

@oliviagraceherring Anything queen Bella Hadid wears I give a go… not sure I will be wearing this one out of the house though feels a little too like pjs for me!!! What do you think?? #b#bellahadidbellahadiduggs ♬ original sound - ur fav sped up 🫶🏼

The only people who truly benefit from following micro trends are influencers. Unlike the regular person, influencers are often gifted certain pieces and are able to follow and adapt to changes in the fashion cycle as whenever they need to. Average consumers, who don’t have access to a plentiful supply of money, often feel left out – depriving them from the feeling of inclusion they once got from following said trend. So again, what’s the point in constantly following micro trends when many of us can’t afford to?

However… maybe the issue isn’t micro trends, but wider societal attitudes to them? If people aren’t shamed into believing that certain items are no longer trendy, clothing items like the House of Sunny dress won’t become depressing trophies reflecting a time where we once had money to spend on clothes. It’s important to note that we can’t critique ourselves for following trends, after all, following trends is habitual. By following micro trends we aren’t indulging in a hedonistic lifestyle, following trends comes naturally as human beings.

Look, micro trends aren’t inherently evil. However, the problem lies in figuring out whether we actually like what is trending. Perhaps when making our next purchases, instead of seeking instant gratification we should think about the value these items could bring to our wardrobe. So go ahead, get that Nike ACG skirt or get that knock off Miu Miu skirt… you know you want to…or do you?

Joelle Bello @joelle.bello