Size matters

speaking of belts, when i was selecting mine, i felt i was dangerously close to cliché territory: my choices were skinny belt, medium belt, wide belt. yes, in every imaginable color, but since i already knew i wanted black, the choice really came down to these 3 widths. i got bored with staring at my options, realizing that i was admiring more than deciding and just instinctively grabbed one.

it's the perfect belt for me (i can say with certainty now that i've held it up to all my clothes). a teeny tiny part of me was disappointed that i went with a medium width, wondering if i had wimped out. but the medium will actually serve my style, needs and imagination the longest. the beauty of the belt lies in the material, the quality, the simplicity, and not the neutrality of the belt (and by "neutrality" here i do not mean a high probability of compatibility. i mean "middle of the road").

and while i am not someone who would ever consciously aim for middle-of-the-road (frankly, i prefer to be off on the shoulder, sartorially speaking), it raised questions for me. what would make an item be defined as a style neutral? merely not being an extreme? merely not being trendy? is "trendy" applied to anything that is painfully, nauseatingly popular? if i had found this belt a year ago or 5, or 10, it would have been perfect for me. the appeal of it is not based on ephemeral and fictional standards of rightness. i do not like "in" and "out" lists since the very existence of the list is what makes the definition (things are not "in" or "out" until they are on the list - and then their status only matters to list makers and list readers. that's my theory anyway.).

is being unpopular the only way for an item to not be trendy?

do all items have a "middle of the road" option for people to retreat to when they (pants, blazers, hemlines, etc.) are rendered in "trendy" styles?


Songy said...

darn.. my head hurts thinking about it. I don't think so though. Whatever works with your shape and the clothes you have that is the one to buy regardless of the trend. My problem is that the shopping scene here is so trend orientated that I can't find 'basic' middle of the road style that easily.

Sara said...

You know, I'm considering the belt this season, too so I understand your experience and decision. I want to want the skinny belt - I really do. I want to wear layers and hold it all together with the skinny belt. But do I want this look because it's out there and "trendy" or do I want it because I see it as something I could pull off? Would I really get far more mileage out of the "middle-of-the-road" option?

And because I still haven't answered that question, I still haven't bought a belt this season.

Because I think things do have both versions - trendy and middle of road. And I try to think of myself as interested more in what works for me than trends, but it's often hard to resist.

erica said...

in general i try to stick with whatever seems classic for me. ten years ago i wouldn't have really known what that meant except 50s retro-ish silhouettes, which i still love. when i bought a trench coat last year, i agonized over buying a statement piece (like a junya watanabe) or the old standby (burberry). in the end, i went with the cliche, mainly because i decided that what makes a trench a trench is its overall anonymity. i don't plan on buying another trench, but if i did, it would be a really different take on the classic and not just one in another color.

fashionaddict said...

This reminds me of a discussion I had with a friend about whether there are some definitions of beauty that are universal, despite cultural and social differences all over the world. While there are certain elements widely prized, I prefer the idea, as you put it so nicely, that these are "ephemeral and fictional standards of rightness". I don't think there's a pat answer and I like it that way because I like the idea of possibilities.

Anyway, I digressed.

To answer the first question, I disagree, since, for example, the colour black is highly popular, but wearing it would hardly mark you as "trendy".

I suppose anything that steers clear of extremes is "middle of the road"?

Sal said...

1. Thanks for the blogroll add, lady!

2. You are good for my brain.

3. Classic items are neither trendy nor unpopular, no? A black pencil skirt can be elegant and pleasing any time of any year. But maybe this falls too far to the "middle-of-the-road" side of things ...

It seems like most trends are just modified versions of existing items - adding a new color, or more exaggerated detail to an existing form. So I'm sure a mid-road version of virtually every trend could be tracked down.