The Trend Trap: A Few Words on Wardrobe Sanity

I wish I could say that I have a wardrobe filled with amazing investment pieces, and that I’ve never fallen prey to one of those “Try the Trend” stories you see in magazines every month.

I wish that were true, but it’s not. A quick glance through my closet would reveal a Western shirt from the “Cowboy” trend that was hot a few years ago, which is now gathering dust next to a jeweled sweatshirt for which I paid way too much to look like a casual chandelier. I admit it: sometimes I fall into “The Trend Trap.” It can happen to the best of us — no one is immune.

My cashmere coat and I are happy to invite a $25 sweater from H&M to come play for a season.

I’ve identified “The Trend Trap” as a five-part cycle that strikes when you least expect it. Feel free to throw in an “Amen” from the choir loft if any of the following speak to you:


1. You’re vulnerable: One day, for whatever reason, you’re in a weakened state. Maybe you’ve had a bad meeting or a fight with your significant other. You’re a little down, a little bored and a general malaise has just set in.

2. Everyone is wearing it: It is in this weakened condition that you spy a style blog/email blast/store update or magazine cover with headlines that want to help you. They show you women who look happy and adorable and alluring in their outfits — outfits that seem to solve all problems. All of them are screaming that Trend X is the solution. Right now. Get in on it before everyone else around you gets it to first.

3. Your conscience is merely a murmur: You weigh this decision for about a half second. Don’t you have something akin to this trend sitting somewhere gathering dust? Didn’t you burn it with the hatred reserved for people who steal parking spaces about a year or so ago? It’s BACK. You can’t…you won’t…

4. Revisionist history: Then you’re hit with another message: There’s a NEW way to try the trend! You just didn’t style it the right way the first time around! Now you can rock it properly.

5. And… you bought it: Before you know it you are rrripping open a package with said item inside. But when you try it on, it’s the same situation: it’s still not you. And you’ve spent way more money on it than you’d care to admit.

Kristin Booker mixes a classic pea coat and trendy ripped jeans. (Photo: Giafrese/

So let’s stop the madness. As someone who has literally just given about half her wardrobe of “trend pieces” to consignment or thrift, I’m here to tell you that all that nagging you received as a kid about investing money in good, classic pieces is rock solid advice. Because it doesn’t matter if you’re a boss, an underboss, a creative or a stay-at-home mom — good clothes that are built to last are worth their weight in gold.

Your wardrobe essentials should be like your rent: a tad painful when you write the check, but worth it because you LIVE there.

Take residence in:

  • A great coat
  • A versatile black blazer
  • A pair of black pumps
  • A beautiful everyday handbag
  • A fantastic watch
  • A white button-down shirt
  • A black dress
  • A pair of jeans that are tailored to your body

If you work in a professional environment, your suits are part of this expenditure. If you’re more casual, invest in your denim. Those classics are the foundation of everything good; they relieve stress because they’re durable, they fit and they always make sure you feel like a million bucks.

After you have these items, spot the trends, feel them out, and indulge sparingly. H&M, Forever 21 and ASOS exist for this very reason. Cheap essentials, such as tees and tanks — and the occasionally trendy dress or top for $20 — are fine purchases at these stores when planned and not bought on the spur of the moment.

I now know that as long as I have my power basics, I can handle any trend you throw at me. My cashmere coat and I are happy to invite a $25 sweater from H&M to come play for a season; the Helmut Lang blazer I have can happily take on a fringe bag from ASOS. Occasionally, a trend will pop by, but those investment classics and I have a good thing going, and we’re in it to win it.

So I invite you to take a look at your wardrobe and rid it of what you will never wear again. It’s a freeing feeling —trust me.

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