Are you ever too old to follow trends?

Something I’m asked a lot about is trends, and whether there’s a point in life when you should stop following them. We all know trends are cyclical, and a mantra often recited to me is “if you were alive to follow trends the first time around, avoid them the second time”.

The prevailing view is that trends are for younger folk – after all, the fashion industry is obsessed with youth, so surely the trends it sets are aimed at them?  And, as such, anyone over the age of 40 just looks try-hard – or even the dreaded ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ – if they try to incorporate them into their look.

As I always say, these so-called rules of how to dress over 40 are utter nonsense. In truth, I’ve never been an advocate for being a slave to trends. What you wear should be a reflection of who you are, not a reflection of who the fashion industry says you should be. But I do believe incorporating nods to trends keeps your look fresh and contemporary. It is far too easy to stick to a certain way of dressing, which can quickly become outdated.

Yes, some trends may be harder to follow simply because they accentuate body parts that fewer of us want to show off as we age. But that doesn’t mean you have to ignore them altogether. It’s about picking the right ones and incorporating them into your personal aesthetic that has developed over time.

Moreover, with regards to obvious era revival trends, such as the 70s, the trick is to subtly reference them, and incorporate the style into your outfit in a new way. That way you’ll avoid potentially looking as if you’re stuck in the past.

That said, as more of us are becoming environmentally conscious shoppers and moving away from fast, disposable fashion, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to justify buying into a trend, knowing that next season you will have moved on.

So how can you keep your look contemporary, whilst still supporting slow fashion? Here are my top tips:

Animal print is hot right now, but I’ve always loved it and know I will continue to do so in years to come

1. Only follow trends that feel authentic to your personal style

A lot of people say you should only invest in classic pieces, and spend little on trendy ones. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

You can still invest in quality, trendier garments by asking yourself one simple question: “would I have liked this if it wasn’t on trend?”

If the answer is yes, then it is still a worthwhile purchase; you’ll know you’ll continue to love it in the future rather than be inclined to throw it away. And because it’s great quality it will continue to last for when the trend comes back around again!

2. Understand your body shape

Whether we like it or not, unfortunately some trends are simply better suited to certain body shapes. One of the main trends this season is cycling shorts and, as someone who doesn’t like her thighs, it’s not for me.

When we try to force our bodies into a trend that doesn’t suit us, or we don’t feel physically comfortable in it, the end result can be disappointing. So always keep in mind what usually works for your figure and celebrates your assets, and what doesn’t.

That way you’ll only have pieces you feel comfortable and confident in – regardless of whether they’re bang on trend or not – which is what true style is all about anyway.

Colour blocking is very on trend – so a classic shaped knit with colour blocking elements is both modern and timeless

3. Keep it subtle

To avoid looking too ‘try hard’, eschew pieces that are bang on trend in every aspect.

Instead look for pieces that reference trends, such as a certain cut, detail or print. That way you’ll look both modern and effortless, and the piece won’t instantly date.

4. Try new styling

If you’re considering a trend that you’ve lived through before, you can still embrace it and look modern through styling.

This could mean wearing the item a new way or accessorising it differently. It could even simply involve changing your hair style or wearing make-up in a fresh way.

Even though trends come around again, we always see new iterations of them on the catwalk. So use these as inspirations for updating your look. Pinterest is also a great source of ideas.

5. Visit a charity shop

If you’re still unsure about adopting the slow fashion approach, but equally don’t want to contribute to fast disposable fashion, take a trip to your local charity shop. You may have to do some digging but you can find some real gems for very little.

To help, a lot of charities now have specialist fashion boutiques where they sell their best, most stylish pieces.


Jacynth Bassett

About Jacynth Bassett

I'm the founder of the-Bias-Cut - Shopping With Attitude Where Ageism Is Never In Style. Swiftly becoming recognised as one of the UK’s leading pioneers of style at every age, I have written on the topic for The Guardian online, The Huffington Post and have contributed to an internationally published book. I also regularly speak on panels and podcasts, am a ViewVo accredited business mentor, and the weekly ‘Style Advisor’ for The Menopause Room. In my spare time, I love to dance, specialising in hip-hop, and to dine out with family and friends.