How to Develop Your Personal Style in a World of Influencers and Microtrends

posted in shopping tips, style

In the age of microtrends, social media, and influencer marketing, we are constantly bombarded with a combination of overt and subtle advertisements. We are conditioned to believe we need to follow the latest fashion trend or buy the newest clothing item not only to be cool, but fashionable as well. All this noise makes it hard to develop your personal style. 

What Are Microtrends In Fashion?

Microtrends are short lived trends that are only popular for a few weeks to a few months. In fashion, specific clothing items or entire aesthetics can be microtrends. For example, the green wool House of Sunny dress was popular for the summer months of 2020. Even Kendall Jenner hopped on this trend! By the end of the season, however, this garment was viewed as overdone and out-of-date (ironic, considering the design rose to popularity only a few months prior). Microtrends harm personal style by convincing consumers they need to constantly buy into new trends to be fashionable. 

Image source: Pexels

The Role of Influencers In Fashion

Over the past 5-10 years there has been a rise in popularity of influencers, or online tastemakers. The role of influencers is simple — to influence people to buy products and buy into specific trends. When we see 20+ influencers posting about the hottest new jacket, shoes, or bag, it is easy to get enticed into buying that item. A lot of the time, the constant online exposure to microtrends via influencers causes us to buy into a trend, even if we do not find it cool or attractive at first. 

How To Tune Out Social Media Telling You What to Wear

Developing your personal style in a world of influencers and microtrends is difficult, and social media and the rise of fast fashion does not make it any easier. The key to enhancing your personal style is to tune out these social media messages and fast fashion advertising. Fashion is consumed differently than it was a decade or two ago. Instead of waiting for seasonal runway shows and occasionally flipping through a Vogue magazine, we now have endless fashion content at our fingertips thanks to social media. For example, there are over 1.2 billion videos with the hashtag #fashionhaul on TikTok alone!

The growing popularity of platforms like TikTok and Instagram has led to the hypervisibility of trends on social media. Fashion trends and specific clothing items are plastered all over social media, quickly becoming popular. We are conditioned to believe we are missing out if we do not hop on a trend, yet we quickly become sick of the trend after buying into it due to constantly seeing the trend online. One microtrend currently circling the internet is the Ugg Ultra Mini boots. The hashtag #uggultramini has over 60.4 million videos under it on TikTok. This hypervisibility of trends causes a quick turnover from trendy to tacky. 

One way to not let social media dictate your sense of style is to avoid watching hauls, or if you do enjoy that style of content, watch thrift hauls. Thrift hauls are entertaining but do not pressure you to “click the link in the description box” and mindlessly buy into current trends. Another tip is to filter who you follow online. Only follow people who inspire you rather than influencers who dictate what you should and should not wear. 

Image source: Pexels

How To Tune Out Fast Fashion Brands Telling You What to Wear

Fast fashion also negatively impacts personal style. There used to be four fashion seasons, but now fast fashion brands are churning out new collections every few weeks. The popular fast fashion brand Shein adds an average of 6,000 new items to its website every day! These brands want you to constantly invest in short-lived trends rather than build a timeless wardrobe. 

Shein and other fast fashion brands rely on influencer marketing for a lot of their advertising, so limiting the amount of influencer and haul content you watch online will help prevent you from being influenced to buy into every trend. There are, of course, other reasons to steer clear of fast fashion, from environmental concerns to human rights issues. Check out “Which Brands are Fast Fashion? We Break it Down” to know which brands to avoid. 

More Ways to Develop Your Personal Style

Being exposed to trends is inevitable, so instead of blindly buying into a fad, find elements of trends you like and incorporate them into your wardrobe. For example, the wrap sweaters seen in balletcore outfits may perfectly align with your personal style, while ballet flats do not. Don’t just copy an outfit you see an influencer wearing; instead ask yourself “Do I like this outfit? What do I like about it? Will I like this item/style in six months? In a year? Would I wear this if it wasn’t trendy?” Taking a step back and thinking critically is a great way to weed out trends that do not align with your specific sense of style. 

Another way to develop your personal style is to repurpose old clothes. You do not need to get rid of old clothes that were once trendy; you can alter them into a new garment! Reworking old clothes is sustainable and allows you to have one-of-a-kind pieces that make your style more unique. 

Social media is a double-edged sword when it comes to fashion inspiration. Many people turn to apps like Pinterest for outfit images and styling content, but the astronomically large amount of content can be overwhelming. To combat this issue, find outfit inspiration through other channels. Look at what people are wearing on the street, flip through fashion magazines, and take note of what your friends and peers are wearing. 

Another tip for finding your personal style is to not confine yourself to a single aesthetic. Social media and influencers often teach us that to have a strong sense of personal style, we need to fit ourselves into a box. Fashion sense is often divided into categories, such as grunge, dark academia, downtown girl, and coquette aesthetics. Real fashion sense, however, comes from being able to switch up your look and experiment. Fashion is supposed to be fun! Have fun with your outfits and do not be afraid to try out looks that cannot be categorized as a single aesthetic. 

Lastly, remember that the words stylish and trendy are not synonymous. We often associate style with wearing the trendiest clothing and knowing what’s popular. Instead of associating style with trends, associate style with how clothing makes you feel. Someone with good personal style wears clothes that make them feel confident, powerful, and like their best self. Tune out the social media, microtrend, and fast fashion background noise and dress in what makes you feel like your best and most authentic self. 

Follow Steffi Haenicke:
Steffi Haenicke is a Chicago-based writer, DePaul University graduate, and longtime fashion lover. She is passionate about sustainable fashion, with a particular interest in the accelerating trend cycle and overconsumption. In her free time, Steffi enjoys knitting, reading, sewing, and adding to her art journal.

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