Through knowing one’s self today you can have a unique point of view and a sense of difference instead of following the sheep or having to give into the fashion dogma. Fashion is often regarded as a shallow industry where looks matter over action, voice is undermined by opinion and honesty is met with critics.
As trends adapt and come into the market it is tempting to jump on them to stay relevant, but we often don’t realise where that decision making comes from and why we buy the things we do. Understanding social media’s physiological effects and social proof gives us context to make better purchasing decisions that are more tailored to our actual needs and wants.
With better information and understanding this allows us to be more content with the purchases we make and what is actually needed within our lifestyle thus allowing us to be more confident, more comfortable and most importantly be ourselves.
The Social Impact
It’s pretty obvious that social media is a medium that dictates what’s cool and what’s not, the number of likes, positive comments and shares directly influences the cognitive way we think about a topic. Let’s take an example and test this theory - say there’s an Instagram post from “so-and-so” brand which has racked up +1,000 likes and +100 positive comments so far, that can change our perception about the product and brand the likelihood of expenditure increases in turn due to these positive remarks and triggers.
In marketing and physiological terms this is called social influence or social proof, where this informative action from peers and society dictates our feelings towards something. Another concept that relates directly to this is that a “like” is the new five star produce review result. Because we’re easily manipulated by brands, our peers and marketing tactics what’s to say we aren’t representing our true selves when we walk down the street or go about our day to day business? If you think about it the mere fact that we are being dictated to fit the norm and to fit an idea leaves little room for opinion and personal expression.
Next time you see something that you might consider purchasing think about why you actually want those sneakers. Is it because you saw them on your favourite celebrity? Or is it because the hundreds of comments that others say they want it too influenced your feelings? To combat this be more thoughtful of yourself and buy things that will actually increase your happiness long term vs. short term dopamine hit, think about how many times you’d wear it and if it would go well with what you have currently.
This is really important to understand early on so that you can be in control of your purchases and you as the consumer can dictate what you think you should have. I’m not here to dictate that anything is right or wrong, but I think it’s important to be open with yourself when you form an opinion, especially an opinion that leads to your hard earned money leaving your bank account.
Being self aware is a tool to find satisfaction and clarity not just mentally, but also through style and fashion without the need to follow trends. The idea of a fashion trend is that they come and go, they are a pattern of output that changes over time which is influenced by many factors such as social climate, celebrities, designers, marketing and more. The result of a trend is that we are lead to believe it is cool and it’s the latest and greatest thing to invest in.
To put this into context an example of a fashion trend recently was the “Dad” sneaker, which in the 1980’s to the 90's were commonly worn due to their comfort, durability and social climate at the time, then ultimately the trend declined slowly as consumers in the market began substituting the bulky silhouette for more modern alternatives as new technology and innovation entered the industry.
Now let’s skip forward to the modern day, the trend was revitalised through celebrity endorsements, designer collaborations and tasteful marketing which led to a strong shift in social society that it was “cool” again. This leads us to now question trends as their adaptation over time makes us think if we are being sucked into something we don’t actually like. This is why knowing what you like is at utmost importance to not just save you money or be sucked into trends but also to be satisfied with your purchasing decision.
Honestly the idea of looking “cool” for 4 months may seem well and good by investing into a trend, but staying in your own lane, knowing what actually works for you and sticking to your style - to me that’s freedom. If you enjoy running and often opt for a more sporty shape of sneaker to wear as it fits with your lifestyle then purchasing a cowboy boot to rock with your next fit might not be the wisest decision.
The benefits of knowing yourself and your wardrobe tastes lead to a much easier process when getting ready in the morning, you’ll likely not overspend when shopping and it gives you peace of mind and clarity - all of this can buy you back more vital time in life to do things you want to do without fussing over what’s dropping next week, who’s wearing what or where to cop that latest release from. Self awareness is the tool that can help you navigate the vicious cycle of fashion trends.
Confidence & Comfort
Let’s be real, confidence and comfort are paramount not just for practicalities sake but for your mental mindset as well - the ability to feel good externally and internally means you have found a harmonious relationship or the secret sauce. To achieve this paradise of personal style will naturally take time as you need to fully identify your lifestyle and what makes you feel good inside and out.
Comfort can often be disguised as sweatpants, oversized hoodies and baggy cotton t-shirts but you can also be extremely comfortable in well fitted garments, it's a fine balance of what comfort means to you personally. If you’re sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day in a studio environment it would be a dream to wear sweatpants all day everyday but then you might get an unexpected visit from a client, need to run off to a lunch meeting or be asked to run some errands - if you roll up to that meeting with sweatpants on, an oversized hoodie and sneakers that have seen another life it’s safe to say you’re not feeling like a million bucks and won’t exude confidence or the mental clarity to execute what you need.
There’s no worse feeling than being underdressed or worrying about what you have on through the day and thinking in the back of your mind, “Do I look okay today?”. The idea is that your personal style should be just that - personal, its refined and feels like a second skin where everything just fits right and is a natural extension of you.
A way to execute this effectively is to find brands that communicate a message you relate to personally and believe in. Find what excites you about them, share their passion for their craft and understand what they’re trying to achieve from their perspective. By creating a more humanised relationship between yourself and the products you own, it feeds into your reasoning as to why your purchased this item and gives you a heightened sense of understanding and attachment.
You as the customer can also control the purchasing experience and making that more of a personal reason to exchange your dollars in return for a good is something we all should be thinking about more deeply.
By understanding how fashion trends form and what social media does to unknowingly influence our tastes we can then begin to make better purchasing decisions for ourselves to be the best versions of ourselves. With having an honest reflection into your consumption habits, what truly excites you within fashion, what your lifestyle warrants and how you want to showcase yourself you can then take those insights to ensure you’re moving forward with your style for the right reasons to be a more authentic version of you.
Don’t let anyone dictate what you should wear and why you should wear it, find that out for yourself and understand why you want that. From doing so you’ll simplify your wardrobe in an age of chaos and unlimited choice that will lead to increasing you to saving money and time, increasing your confidence and appreciating what you own for longer. At the end of the day we always want to be better, and what’s better than being you.
Zayyar is the founder of Newspread, an independent online news platform from New Zealand. Follow their Instagram here.