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How To Spot A Fashion Victim

(And avoid becoming one yourself)

fashion victimWhat is a “fashion victim”?

You’ve probably heard the term used before on both television and in magazines, but what are critics referring to? And why are these folks called “victims”?

Fashion victims are people who take a fashion trend and run with it regardless of how it looks on them, whether it’s appropriate, or if they’re wearing it in excess. In their quest to be in style, they completely miss the most important part of being stylish: customizing a trend to suit their own body, age, and circumstance.

They’re called victims because they unwittingly become little more than mannequins, mindlessly following the dictates of the fashion world. Even if something doesn’t feel or look quite right to them, they’ll wear it anyway – because they follow fashion. Period. And yes, they probably WOULD jump off a cliff if everyone else was doing it.

So what are some telltale signs of a fashion victim?

  1. Wearing Unflattering TrendsWearing clothing and accessories that don’t work on one’s body is the single biggest giveaway that you’ve encountered a fashion lemming.Fashion victims will snap up the latest trends and wear them proudly, showing everyone that they know what’s in style.

    Meanwhile, everyone is thinking, “So you know what’s in style. But do you have a mirror?”

    Current trend in point? Low-rise pants.

    Not since stretch pants has a trend that flatters so few women been adopted in such mass.

    This look puts a horizontal line right at the hips, calling attention to the whole area from the waist to the knees.

    If you’re between the ages of 15-25, have a trim waist, flat stomach, slim but shapely hips, and firm fanny and thighs, this look can be really cute. If not, it won’t. Take a look around any high school or college campus and see for yourself.

  2. Going Overboard On a TrendWearing too much of one thing is never a good idea, whether it be jewelry, makeup, clothes, or perfume. It’s another area where fashion victims often “miss the boat”.To be truly chic, create a single focal point. Determine your assets, then use your clothing and accessories to draw attention to them one at a time.

    Have comment-generating eyes? A small waist? Fabulous legs? Then play them up and focus attention to one of these spots.

    Let’s say you want to wear the current western trend to an upcoming barbeque. Using a white shirt and denim skirt as your base, you could wear a bandana scarf or turquoise necklace to focus attention on your face, or a snazzy belt to call interest to your waist, or a mid-thigh skirt with flesh-colored, lace up sandals to show off your gams.

    Just don’t do all three at once, as a fashion victim might be inclined to do. Why not?

    Because calling attention to one thing makes that one element shine. But creating many focal points forces them to compete against each other for attention, immediately diminishing the impact of each. It’s the difference between adding a pinch of garlic and a clove of garlic to a recipe. A pinch gives it that little extra flavor. A clove overpowers everything else.

  3. Wearing a Has-Been TrendThe problem with following trends really closely is that they become dated very quickly. So if you fill your closet with a favorite trend and it passes out of style, then you’ll look out of style by wearing it. Almost like you surfaced only long enough to snap up a certain look before heading back to your own little world. The verdict? Fashion victim.The disco era left tons of fashion victims in its wake, with some people wearing afros, polyester suits, and rows and rows of chain necklaces for years after the trend had faded.

    Heck, I even know one woman who’s worn the Farrah Fawcett flip continuously since 1976.

    Check, please. REALITY check!

    If you like to follow trends, you need to take note of when they leave the building so you can send them off in a timely fashion. Don’t fall in love with them and never let them go. They’re meant to be a passing flirtation, so treat them as such. Buy cheap, wear often, and say goodbye when the relationship is over. Invest in classics, go cheap on trends.

  4. Following Trends Regardless Of Anything ElseThere are always people who are so “into” fashion that they’re completely out of touch with the world around them. They’re so anxious to show their fashion sense that they suspend their common sense for the sake of looking good.You know the type – wearing the new fall or spring line the instant it hits the stores, regardless of the weather; wearing trends to places that can jeopardize their health or safety (who else has walked across a pasture in spike heels, besides me?); or suffering through a style that binds, pinches, or is too tight, just because it’s in style. If you’re a mannequin, then you’re a victim.

    A beautiful fashionista I once worked with at a charitable organization had a monthly spending allowance of $15,000.

    Needless to say, her wardrobe was amazing. But she sometimes followed fashion to her own detriment. One blazing hot August day in Houston, she came to work in one of the smartest looks of that upcoming fall season, a cashmere sweater and leather pants. The staff was having a fire safety inservice outside that day, learning how to use a fire extinguisher to put out a fire.

    Between the heat of the day, the practice fire, and her clothes, Leslie collapsed and had to be treated for heat exhaustion. She looked fabulous throughout the whole ordeal, but needless to say, it provided plenty of water-cooler chuckles for weeks afterward.

    Looking good doesn’t mean you have to appear ridiculously smitten with fashion. Use common sense and creativity to adapt your fashion habit to any given situation, weather it be weather, terrain, or whatever. Otherwise, you’ll look foolish instead of fashionable. And yes, I speak from experience on this one.

  5. Wearing Age-Inappropriate TrendsThere are some looks-like a white shirt and blue jeans– that look fabulous on people of all ages.Then there are some that should only be worn by people of a certain age -like baseball caps perched sideways or backwards, pinafores, or pull on polyester pants.

    Fashion victims never stop to question whether a fashion is appropriate for their age, whatever it is. They simply wear the fashion and assume it’s okay.

    Here’s a rule of thumb:

    If it’s a look that your mother or grandmother would look great in, you probably shouldn’t wear it. If it looks great on your daughter or granddaughter, it probably won’t on you.

    When a rock star from the early 80’s showed up at a recent awards show wearing the same type of clothes she’d wore in her heyday, fashion critics had a field day. She hadn’t maintained her figure, and gave audiences an eyeful of what 20 years of inactivity can do to a pair of thighs. It wasn’t pretty.

    Be age-appropriate in your selections, adapting trends to work for you. Wearing styles that are either too old are too young for you have the same effect: they make you look older than you are.

    Classic, ageless styles will always make you look current, allowing you to both enjoy your youth and savor your years by dressing age-appropriately.

So what’s the bottom line here?

Following fashion has been in fashion for thousands of years. While it certainly benefits you in so many ways to maintain a current appearance, following fashion is not a “one-size-fits-all” activity.

You need to consider your shape, age, and lifestyle when following trends to make sure they fit YOU, instead of forcing yourself to fit THEM. Otherwise, you become a clothing mannequin – and run the risk of becoming a fashion victim.

About Diana Pemberton-Sikes

Diana Pemberton-Sikes is a wardrobe and image consultant and author of Wardrobe Magic, an ebook that shows women how to transform their unruly closets into workable, wearable wardrobes. Visit her online at Fashion For Real Women. Need some tips and tricks? Pick up a copy of Wardrobe Magic. Visit her site for more information.


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