The Psychology of Fashion Trends: Why We Follow Them and How They Change

Fashion can be seen as an expression of identity and personal creativity. But the veritable sea of fashion influences more than just our unique style choices; it can also drive our behavior. In other words, fashion trends are influenced by powerful psychological forces, and they can even change over time. Therefore, understanding the psychology behind fashion trends is important if we want to make informed decisions about what we wear. In this article, we will explore why people follow certain fashion trends, how fashion trends change, and how this ultimately affects our individual shopping habits.

Why Do We Follow Fashion Trends?

Generally speaking, people follow fashion trends because they want to be a part of something larger than themselves. People want to feel that they are part of a collective, be it their local community, their workplace, their social circle, or the broader world. For example, at a workplace it may be important to dress in a professional manner, as this sends the message that you are part of the team and that you are serious about your job. Similarly, within a social circle, people may want to wear similar clothes as everyone else in an attempt to show that they are part of the group.

In addition to feeling included, people may also follow trends in order to gain popularity or admiration from others. People like to stand out and be noticed, and so following trends can be an effective way of doing this. For example, if you are seen wearing the latest fad in fashion, you will be admired and envied by your peers. This appreciation can result in increased self-confidence, which can then lead to increased social standing within your circle.

Finally, people may follow fashion trends because they want to keep up with the ever-changing global zeitgeist. Trends in fashion often reflect changes in society and the world around us. As such, they may be seen as an indication of progress or a sign of the times. By keeping up with the latest trends, people can show that they are aware of what is happening in the world and that they are adapting to reflect these changes.

How Do Fashion Trends Change?

Fashion trends change because of shifts in culture, mass media, and technology.

Cultural shifts can be both conscious and unconscious, as different cultures adopt and reject different clothing styles. For example, the 1970s saw a rise in cultural liberation, which was reflected in the more relaxed, free-spirited styles promoted by the famous designer Yves Saint Laurent. Similarly, the 1980s saw a shift toward a more conservative, preppier style, due in part to the increasing popularity of Ronald Reagan among the middle classes.

The influence of mass media in fashion trends should not be underestimated. Movies, TV shows, magazines, and the internet all have an impact on the kind of clothing styles that become popular. For example, emojis, bomber jackets, and retro-style sunglasses have all become trendy recently due to their frequent appearances in popular media.

Finally, technology also plays an important role in the changing of fashion trends. New fabrics and materials, and innovative designs and techniques, can drastically change the way clothes are made and worn. For instance, the humble hoodie has been transformed from a simple and economical garment to a fashion staple thanks to advancements in fabric technologies and improvements in design.

How Does This Affect Our Shopping Habits?

Our understanding of the psychology of fashion trends and their ability to change can have an effect on our shopping habits. Firstly, it can encourage us to think more carefully about what we are buying and why. For example, rather than simply buying a garment because it looks fashionable, we can think carefully about how it fits with our values and beliefs, and how it reflects our personality. Furthermore, understanding fashion trends can help to ensure that we remain “in style” without sacrificing our individual style, thus avoiding feelings of embarrassment or alienation.

On the other hand, understanding fashion trends can also lead us to engage in excessive consumerism. We may be more likely to buy more clothes than we can afford or that we truly need, for fear of “missing out” on the latest trend. Similarly, we may be more likely to buy clothes from the same stores or brands, out of loyalty or a desire to “fit in” with the crowd. Conversely, understanding fashion trends can help us to save money, both by enabling us to recognize fads that will not pass the test of time and by helping us to utilize old items in a new and fashionable way.

Fashion trends are heavily influenced by psychological forces, and they can even change over time. People generally follow trends to be part of a collective; to gain admiration; and to keep up with the ever-changing global zeitgeist. Factors such as cultural shifts, mass media, and technology all have an effect on the changing of fashion trends, and understanding of these factors can affect our shopping habits in both positive and negative ways. By reflecting on why we choose to follow certain trends, and by understanding why they change, we can make informed decisions about what we wear that are based on our individual preferences rather than the latest fad.