This morning my husband passed me the Business Section of the Saturday paper and pointed me to a small article he wanted me to read. It was about the unwelcome economic results of U.S. department chains. I had read previously that Amazon was challenging the retail business model big-time, so this downturn in sales didn’t seem like a big surprise. And since neither of us is known for the impact we have ever had on retail in general (except perhaps for books), I wasn’t sure why he thought I should read it. But, what the heck, it was Saturday morning with the luxury of a full day ahead – in fact, a full weekend ahead – so why not just shut up and read it.
It didn’t take me long to find the attraction. As my husband said, “It turns out we’ve been leading the pack all along; it’s just taken a (very) long time for everyone to follow our lead.” As the article reports, “Consumers are spending more of their money on technology or experiences, rather than clothing. That means they may wear an old outfit a bit longer than before and budget those funds toward something else.”* Wear an old outfit a bit longer, what a concept! This trend still has a ways to go to catch up with us. Depending on the author’s definition of “a bit longer”, to really follow our lead that may have to change to “a lot longer”. And, to be fair, we have not developed this fashion trend so much as a matter of budget control as a lack of interest. Or maybe as a result of frustration over styles changing for no particular reason other than to get people to buy new clothes. So it is with satisfaction and relief that I read that there are no major new fashion trends to draw buyers into the stores. [I may well be challenged on this by a few people near and dear to me, who know far more about this topic than I. In my defense, I’m only reporting on what I’ve read!]
Although nobody would call me a clothes horse by any stretch of the imagination, I like to think that I’m usually presentable in public. My frustrations arise from the way styles, available colours, and even my favourite clothing stores keep disappearing. Off and on throughout my life I’ve found stores and styles that I’ve really loved, styles that I thought looked really good on me – or at least I felt good wearing them. But then what happens: the styles change; my favourite clothes wear out; or, the perfect store actually goes out of business. It never fails.
I’m pretty good at handling things going out of styles. For example, I’m with it enough to know when it’s time to cut the shoulder pads out of a dress or jacket I just can’t bear to part with! And I’ve had no trouble just skipping buying anything new in years when the predominant new colour has been arbitrarily selected to be one that makes me look like I have the stomach flu, like peach … or a bilious shade of olive green. They may look good on a rack, but put them next to the skin one of large segments of the population and it is not a pretty picture. So if this new fashion trend to not have a trend includes not restricting new clothes to three unpleasant colours, that is a huge step in the right direction.
I’m pretty good at adapting to new fashions in a marginal sort of way. I eventually decided I didn’t want to be the only woman in the room without a scarf draped around her neck, even if it seems like a strange fashion statement for a bunch of women going through menopause. The scarves help dress up my aging clothes, so I’ve become a fan. And thanks to my office partner, I’ve given leggings a try. Boy, are they comfortable, although whether or not they’re meant for an old(er) woman is undoubtedly open to question.
I’d love to buy a new version of an old favourite when it gets too shiny – or a bit snug. But I can rarely find a replication of the look. This all makes shopping an exercise in frustration. Which is why the article my husband shared with me this morning holds out such promise. It gives me hope that perhaps the new trend is going to be that people can wear whatever they want, for as long as they can get away with it. The only problem is that this trend only works if the manufacturers keep producing the best of the past 20 years … in my favourite colours!
Picture from The Loft, Toronto’s Eaton Centre
*Quote from Lindsey Rupp (Bloomberg News) in the Globe and Mail, May 14, 2016