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How Late Is Too Late to Buy Into a Trend?

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Now more than ever, it feels right to ignore what’s “in” and “out.”

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Reformation’s Avalon Bodysuit Photo: Reformation

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When it’s your job to both consume and create shopping content, certain editorial patterns begin to emerge. Every March, for instance, you can count on a slew of “festival style” stories urging you to stock up on crop tops and cutoffs. Late October and early November are gift guide season. And come December, brace yourselves, because it’s time for roundups of trends to avoid in the new year. Be it peplums (so 2012!) or furry slides (ugh, 2016 much?), seemingly every fashion site (this one included) has strong opinions on worn-to-death trends that deserve to disappear.

Not to be a traitor to my line of work and all, but I’ve always taken issue with those roundups — because ever since I can remember, I’ve had a habit of hopping (and staying) on fashion bandwagons long after they’ve left the station. I didn’t buy a pair of Stan Smiths, for instance, until they’d stopped popping up in street style photos. Earlier this month, I found myself browsing eBay in search of Reformation’s lace-up Avalon Bodysuit, a piece I loved back when it first debuted in 2015 but for some reason couldn’t bring myself to bite the bullet and buy. Hell, I’m still not over chokers!

I am probably going to buy this choker, don’t @ me.
I am probably going to buy this choker, don’t @ me.
Photo: Urban Outfitters

But is that a bad thing? With fast fashion brands churning out fresh styles at breakneck speed and social media determining whether (and for how long) a look sticks, we’ve got more trends bubbling up and dying down than ever before. Now more than ever, it feels right to ignore what’s “in” and “out” entirely and just buy what you like.

Positive I couldn’t be the only person in this camp, I consulted a few friends. Racked senior editor Alanna Okun pointed to some backless loafers she’d just purchased, similar to the Gucci pair that was absolutely everywhere in 2015. “I usually hate trends at first, because I am cranky and also I fear change,” she says. “But once something hits a fever pitch and then starts to subside, it’s all I can think about.” Waiting to shop a trend until after the first (or second) wave can also save you cash, of course: Alanna’s loafers cost her a grand total of $30 at DSW, while my aforementioned Reformation bodysuit can now be found for less than $50 on eBay.

Or I could go the route of associate video producer Rebecca Jennings, who assured me I wasn’t the only one still into the lace-up look; she recently bought a similar suit from Urban Outfitters’ sale section. “Yes, I am aware this look is tired as hell,” she says. “But I needed some mildly slutty going-out tops, and nothing says ‘here for a good time’ better than a knockoff of a top Emily Ratajkowski wore in 2015.” Indeed.

Hair game raised.

A post shared by leighbelz (@leighbelz) on

InStyle features and news director Leigh Belz Ray is another self-proclaimed “late trend adopter”; back when the two of us worked together at Lucky, we were at one point the only staffers who refused to buy into the Birkenstock craze (she finally got a pair in 2015; I’m still holding out). Leigh points to the Great Ombré Hair Phenomenon of 2013 as another example: By the time she was finally ready to try the look herself two years later, she remembers, friends told her ombré was long over.

“But then I looked around and realized that 70 percent of the women I commuted with on the L train had some version of the lived-in ombré,” she says. “Who cares if I was an early or late adopter? I just liked the look. So I did it. And I didn’t feel late to the party. In fact, I was mad at myself for letting my friends temporarily talk me out of it!”

And that’s just it: Every time I’ve ever invested in a so-called “over” trend that nevertheless feels like me — be it sweatshirt dresses or side-swept bangs I’ve never regretted it. But what about you? Do you feel weird buying something that’s “so last year?” I want to know.