We talk a lot about trends here at AFL and at The Edit Advisory. It is my job to look at the runways, see emerging patterns, and help brands interpret those patterns for their target demographic. Arguably, most of the trends you see – from Neiman’s to Old Navy – are influenced by the runways.

While personally, I am not a slave to the trends, I do follow them and did before it was my job. Even though this blog is the proverbial side hustle, I treat it like a multimillion-dollar corporation in many ways. One of those ways is feeling like an expert on my subject matter – fashion – and I firmly believe you cannot call yourself a professional if you do know what is going on in your industry. This is another reason why my foray into working for corporate technology companies did not work. I do not want to be an expert in whatever sector I was working in. I cannot get passionate about demand gen trends to generate more leads for your payroll software.

Plus, how can you say you are not a trend follower when you do not know what they are? You cannot reject what you do not know about.

And honestly, watching the runways and seeing how different markets react to these high designs; evaluating what I see in terms of my own personal style; watching these trends proliferate through my feeds. What can I say? It is fun!

In last week’s video on colored leather, I mentioned how I evaluate a trend and decide if it is something I want to incorporate into my own closet. I promised a longer blog post on the subject and here it is. These are the steps I take to ensure I am not glomming on to something sparkly from the runways because it is trendy. 

First, I ask myself one important question: Do I like it? If the answer is no, I move on leaving room for the trend to grow on me as different interpretations become available at different price points. I am looking at you, Dad Sneaker. I swore those Balenciaga Triple S kicks were the ugliest thing and even if they were $10 and not $1,000 plus, I would never wear them….. until I found a cute version or two at Madewell and H&M. Some are calling them chunky sneakers now, but the whole trend started from the Balenciaga runway.

If the answer to the above is yes, then I ask myself if it has a real place in my wardrobe or is this a fun purchase? This is something that is outside my comfort zone, but I am drawn to, nonetheless. I liken it to being a healthy eater who does not think life is worth living without ice cream or other occasional sweet indulgences. Is this trend or item the sartorial version of a decadent flourless chocolate cake at Chez Zee, because I am a big believer in balance. These are items I either thrift, wait for an amazing sale or purchase fast fashion. The initial cost and cost per wear are BIG factors here.

Now that I have decided that I want to incorporate something into my wardrobe, I need to figure out the how. Thanks to the cyclical nature of fashion, my age, and my penchant for holding onto clothing, the first thing I need to figure out is if this is already in my closet? Or even close proximity? Do I already own an interpretation of this trend, or more often, do I already own an original version of whatever inspired this latest trend?

If I do decide that I need to make a purchase, I ask myself: Can I thrift this? Do I need to buy this new or secondary? Should I invest in this trend with a quality item that will last or is this a quick thrift or even fast fashion purchase? The dad sneaker trend was a fast fashion purchase, but not after searching thrift stores for some 1980s originals. But I have invested in the latest iteration of the classic white button-down for both a new Ganni blouse, as well as scoring a classic men’s Burberry on The Real Real. Both made from high-quality cotton that will stand the test of time, as well as multiple washes. This is another place where I pay close attention to cost per wear, especially if I know from the start the cost could be higher than I prefer to spend.

For this post, I thought the shacket would be a fun example. I purchased a couple through fast fashion as I scour the thrift racks for the men’s work jacket original. I do have to say that I am pleased with the quality of my high street pieces and do plan on keeping and wearing them long after they are no longer the It Item of the season (the long one is great for winter morning school drop offs!).

For the current shacket trend, I styled the H&M shacket for both work and play. Even before the pandemic, working in creative industries (or tech where anything goes dress-wise), I evaluated most purchases with the, “can I wear this in both my work life, my mom life, and/or just my life life?” question. I liked the juxtaposition of the flannel with lace in the casual outfit and the jacquard of the dress. Both bring femininity to a masculine piece.

Lastly, though, I wanted to include photos of my interpretation of the shacket with a couple of pictures I took a few years ago when life outside of the house was still a thing. Not sure why I never shared them before. Maybe it is because I did not know what to call my penchant for wearing the vintage third layer of a suit or other ensemble as a top. I was shacketing before shacketing was a thing! Both these pieces were purchased from Thrifted Feels a local vintage curator with an amazing online shop.

The lace top is a vintage Victor Costa that started out as the fancy overlayer for what can only be described as a questionable mother-of-the-bride dress. Cut out the dress part and add more snaps to the front of the shacket and it became a great top for a business cocktail party. I paired it with all modern pieces: pants and bag from Zara and statement heels from Vivienne Westwood. Someone actually thought the top was one of those lacey concoctions from Self Portrait!

The floral shacket came with a shell and matching skirt, but the shacket was the best piece. I just paired it with cropped navy trousers for a work appropriate look. The red vintage Casadei heels were a fun pop of color. I love the detail along the bottom of the shacket and the oversized gold buttons that matched the gold detail on the heel of the shoes.

I hope you find these tips helpful. Please let me know in the comments how you decide to try a new trend or if there is one you would love to try but not sure if you should. Apply these tips and let me know if it helps!

Photography by Breezy Ritter