Friday Food for Thought: Fast Fashion Fixes

This year it’s creative nail art.
Last year it was braids.
The year before… feathers.
Before the recession, it was anything with logos on it. Canvas Coach bags covered with Cs, Tory Burch flats, limited-edition tee shirts by trendy designers.


cheap fashion trends

Have you heard of The Lipstick Index? This phrase was coined by the chairman of Estée Lauder to explain why their sales went up after 9/11. From the late ‘20s and into the start of the Great Depression, the economy went down the tubes yet cosmetic sales rose.

Time and time again, when the economy is down, women find budget-friendly ways to still feel fashionable and beautiful. And when the economy is good, the masses clamor to get the hottest trend they can at the highest pricepoint they can afford.

I understand this, and I too have bought a trendy accessory or beauty product to make me feel better, feel fashionable. And it works. It’s amazing how a new color of lipstick or some fun nail art can change your look as well as your outlook. However, it’s important to understand that these budget-friendly trends are just that – trends.

We seem to be living in a time where people are sacrificing quality for quantity. Cheap polyester dresses that don’t fit quite right, sky-high platforms that tear heels to shreds, neon accessories that will be passé come October. We’re spending $30 a month on mystery boxes of travel sizes of beauty products or mediocre-quality shirts and accessories. We’ll buy Starbucks every day, but balk at the idea of spending three figures on a pair of shoes or trousers that will be en vogue years from today.

I encourage you to do an experiment – for the next month track all the money you spend on nail polish, fun lipstick colors, self-tanner, Starbucks, super trendy jewelry, and novelty clothing (witty tee shirts, pieces that can only be worn for specific situations, fast food fashion a la Forever 21). Don’t stop your regular routine, just gather up the receipts and a month from now, tally them and see how much you spent.

How much was it? Enough for a cashmere sweater? A pair of perfectly-tailored trousers? Designer jeans that make your rear look amazing? A classic designer bag?  Black pumps that are chic, slightly sexy, and wearable for eight hours straight?

With Weight Watchers I often have an internal debate with food – which is more important, short-term pleasure or long-term satisfaction? The same could be said for fashion. There is nothing wrong with trendy splurges – in fact I recommend them to keep wardrobe staples looking current. However take a good look at your closet, your dressing table, your makeup bag – are all those quick fixes keeping you from achieving quality personal style?

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  1. Eleanorjane
    June 11, 2012 / 7:09 pm

    I love me a bit of a cheap trend myself… I don’t spend much on them but I think a fashionable nail colour or piece of costume jewellery can perk up a tired outfit.

    I am trying to make sure I only buy clothing and shoes that are *just right*. Right colour, right fit, fitting into the rest of my wardrobe etc… this is a bit easier with clothes than shoes. I’m fighting hard with trying to find shoes comfy enough for a 30 min walk to work but pretty enough for my taste. I was a die-hard heel wearer so I’m struggling to adjust…

  2. June 8, 2012 / 9:51 pm

    Oh man I used to track my monthly spending habits and my “shopping” spending wasn’t pretty… it usually came out more so than my food haha! Since I subscribe to 3 beauty sample sites, I’ve tried to tone down my impulse spending on beauty items… definitely think I’ve gotten better. I am trying to invest in more quality pieces as I get older and my wardrobe matures. I don’t by the H&M handbags because they break in a month… so frustrating! 

  3. June 8, 2012 / 7:01 pm

    I did not, I usually only seem to catch All Things Considered on a drive home and that’s about it on a regular basis. Will be sure to check this out, thank you Kara!

  4. lorena
    June 8, 2012 / 4:36 pm

    Interesting – lately i have been trying to maybe get one or two items that are on trend and mix them up with whatever i already have. Also, I look first in my own stash of stuff and sometimes find the trends are already in there .. sor example, for neons i pulled a bright nail polish from 3 years ago and hot pink shoes from last year that work the magic. 
    Now, I am just looking for a few neon necklaces…
    I began keeping record of what I spent on clothing+shoes+accessories and am trying to hold back a bit…

  5. Mrs.M in MI
    June 8, 2012 / 4:15 pm

    Excellent food for thought!  My rule is that when I feel the need for something new, I hit the thrift shop.  I can walk away with a few quality pieces for $10 and feel more energetic about my wardrobe.  This happens once every 2-3 months, and I make myself get rid of as much as I bring in, so I think I’m doing okay.

  6. Jessie
    June 8, 2012 / 3:58 pm

    I laugh at the latest forever 21 jibes because I recently bought earrings there that my boss thought were vintage & loved them. Likewise, I have a top from there that I wore under a good blazer & get tons of compliments on. I guess, like anything, there are exceptions to the rule, but you need to know the rule to break it effectively!

  7. June 8, 2012 / 3:49 pm

    Great post! Lately, when buying new clothes or accessories, I’ve tried to think more about how to wear them and if they will last or not than about how trendy they are. I’ve noticed a change in my wardrobe, and I’m slowly reaching my goal of having classic pieces and trendy pieces work together to stay in fashion longer.

  8. Grace Mitchell
    June 8, 2012 / 3:41 pm

    I think the “worth it to me” factor is important. Are the passels of subscription boxes I’ve tried worth the $10-$30 I’m paying for them? Often not. However, I *do* get $10-$30 worth of joy out of getting a fun surprise in the mail, even if not everything in it is usable or usable long-term. It’s all a trade-off.

  9. June 8, 2012 / 3:36 pm

    If you find it’s worth it, then it IS worth it. Do I need another bangle bracelet? Not technically but if I see one that sings to me, I will probably add it to the collection. 🙂 However, I choose bangles over say another bottle of Essie or tube of Revlon Lip Butter 🙂

  10. June 8, 2012 / 3:32 pm

    so smart, I probably spend $50 a month on those damn nail stickers!! But love ’em so much it’s worth it for me 😉

  11. June 8, 2012 / 3:14 pm

    Wow, this is an amazing post and I couldn’t agree more. I think you are absolutely right, quantity rather than quality is the trend and it makes me a little sad to be honest. I love fashion and I’ve been guilty of buying trendy items. Lately though, I’ve really trying harder to invest in quality, I went through my closet and found polyester tops and dresses, cheap accessories, and other items that I no longer wear. Will I stop buying trendy items? No, I will just limit myself and rather invest the money in something that I will love not only this month but for years to come. Great, great post. 

  12. Marsha
    June 8, 2012 / 3:07 pm

    I totally agree with you–I have to change my philosophy when it comes to shopping–quality definitely beats quantity.

  13. June 8, 2012 / 2:39 pm

    Melissa’s rule is right on target. And Allie, BRAVA! well said. #thatisall

  14. June 8, 2012 / 1:46 pm

    I have heard of that. I wrote about it here.

     I agree with you on the could you save up until you had something nicer. Sometimes yes sometimes no.  I totally save up for things and get them but there is also how sometimes you only want to spend $5 on something and not put it away. I am only making sense in my head. I guess because I don’t buy lots of little things often I don’t equate those as saving up for a nice thing. If you are the kind of person that does that 1 or 2 times a week then totally you could save that up and get new shoes. Etc.

    Cheap shit clothes are just that. Cheap. If you are going to do that kind of stuff at least get a natural fiber! Come middle of summer yes you have a closet full of Forever 21 dresses but you don’t want to wear any because they are too hot and choke you!

    The one thing I do like about “cheap thrills” is no matter what your size, your weight. That inexpensive necklace will fit. BUT like I said I don’t do it often. I don’t understand the mystery boxes at all. I want to know exactly what I am spending my money on.

    You know what baffles me the people who buy SCADS of shoes. Like Target and Payless not like 1 or 2 pairs here and there I am talking tons. There is no way that none of those kill your feet. I don’t believe it. Yeah you have 100 pairs of shoes but how many don’t hurt?? That’s what I want to ask people.

    OK I promise to stop talking now.

  15. Melissa Forrester
    June 8, 2012 / 1:46 pm

    My new rule with shopping for myself is I ask myself will I wear this next year and if the answer is NO-I do not buy! I am interested in buying pieces that will last me. I try to buy one or two trendy items for summer since the items are usually cheap. I also agree with makeup/skin care! I buy Lancome facial products which are expensive but last months! So, in the long run it is the same price as items that I would buy at Target! Thanks for a great article!

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