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Fashion Trends Versus What People Wear

by Tasi
(Beckley, WV, USA)

You are a wealth of information and I am so enjoying reading through all the newsletters and articles.


In your article on fashion trends for North America for winter 2009-2010, you talked about how dresses were coming back; and true the catalogs and fashion sites are pushing dresses this year. However the average woman in the street are still wearing pants, suits or sometimes separates. How do we reconcile what the fashion industry is pushing versus what I see my friends wearing casually and in the business world. It seems there is always a disconnect between the industry and real life on the streets.

Jane's answer...
Hi Tasi, this is such a good question, thank you! And I'm pleased you're enjoying my website :D

There will be quite a few different opinions on this topic! I'll give you my opinion. I have also run your question by my fellow AICI image consulting colleagues and incorporated some of their responses in my answer.

If you, or anyone else reading this, would like to express a different opinion, or ask a clarifying question, please feel free to add your comments below. It would be great to start a discussion on this subject.

Here's my answer...



I think it's a lot to do with all the choices we now have (women in particular), so we don't need to follow a particular fashion trend if it doesn't work for our body shape, personality or life style. This "dilutes" a trend -- that is, it is not necessarily obvious by looking around us in our socializing, places of work and so on, what the current trends are.

In times gone by, such as Jane Austin's era (late 1700s to early 1800s), it seems (assuming the film and TV productions of her work are a good indication) the empire-line dress was just about the only choice for a fashionable lady. And even as recently as the 1950s and 60s there was far less choice, so it would have been easy to identify the main fashion trends during those eras. In fact, in would have been hard to buy styles that didn't follow the trends and you would certainly have stood out if you didn't follow them -- tough luck if the empire line or hourglass shapes of the 1950s didn't suit your body shape!

Fashion was invented to stimulate economies and fashion cycles have sped up with the increasing variety, availability and reach of media communications. Clothing styles also change over time to meet changing lifestyle requirements. For example, farm workers in the Middle Ages have very different clothing needs to contemporary plane travellers.

Now-a-days I think the main reason for understanding what the current trends are is to identify which styles are contemporary and which less fashionable styles may start to date us. Especially when we get into our 30s, 40s and beyond, when we might be inclined to keep on wearing the clothes we already have in exactly the same way, even if this makes us look older. Or we might be tempted to keep buying the styles we used to wear when we were younger, even if the styles are no longer appropriate or no longer suit our current shape.

One of the jobs of an image consultant or a personal stylist is to help clients stay contemporary. This means keeping up with the main current trends and interpreting those trends into looks that will work for individual clients.

The Dress Trend


Here are some of my fellow image consultants' views on the dress trend itself and why it isn't being taken up more...

  • Finding a good dress for you can prove a challenge! It needs to...

    • Fit you well

    • Flatter your shape

    • Be in colors that flatter you

    • Have a pattern that works for your personality

    • Be in a style that works for your personality


  • A dress is usually a very feminine look. It is often more of a statement piece than separates, so not all women have the confidence to wear a dress

  • The selection of dresses seen in stores is often not good. Such as...


    • Poor quality construction

    • Insubstantial fabric

    • Poor selection of prints

    • Bad color combinations


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Dresses
by: Tyson

I have to admit my friends and I don't follow along with fashion trends though we are in our 20s. So I think Jane is quite right that it depends on the woman and the trend. I myself have avoided some clothes that I might have bought but didn't because I saw it a lot of other women.

In regards to dresses, this is a trend I've actually noticed on women in the last year. I work in Napa and see plenty of locals and tourists walk by all day. In the summer I noticed a staggering number of dresses compared to the past 5 summers. More than half the tweens, teens, 20-somethings, and even some 30 and 40-somethings were wearing dresses or skirts. The dress that was particularly popular was something I rarely see in Napa because it's a beach dress (perfect for Miami or southern California). It's a long dress with an empire waist and either spaghetti straps, no straps, or a halter cut. Thin material, one color or a print. I'd see it on several women in one day but I think most of them were tourists. And it's not the most flattering of dresses on every woman or even the women who chose to wear it but it's certainly feminine. I saw a lot of sun dresses too in the younger women.

However, I don't think the trend covers the professional outfits. I haven't noticed an increase in skirt suits or anything like that for business wear just as you see, Tasi. Around here the trend has only been casual.

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Thank You
by: Tasi

Thanks Jane, I love your response to my question.

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