Fashion trends that aren't worth the money

Fashion trends have been around pretty much as long as humans have been wearing clothes. Each year, some catwalk fashion trends make the cover of every magazine and enter every home, while others are relegated to the annals of history. According to Avon Dorsey, celebrity stylist and former style editor at Essence, true staying power in fashion "involves a trend's resonance with the masses, meaning it's easily interpreted by the consumer without a designer narrative and without celebrity influence."

So if we can't rely on fashion designers and celebrities to tell us what's going to stick around, how's a girl supposed to figure out what styles are worth the money? If only you had a crystal ball to figure out which trends to spend your hard-earned cash on and which to skip. That's where we come in with our experts in fashion, styling, and all things trendy. There are a lot of interesting and exciting looks out there, but not all of them are winners you should spend your paycheck on. These are the fashion trends that just aren't worth the money.

Pump the brakes on fast fashion

If you're just starting to dabble in fashion, you've probably started buying some core, neutral pieces for your wardrobe, and sometimes you're even able to find them cheap at the mall! But before you go buying six $5 camisoles or three pairs of $20 jeans, take a page from fashion designer Priscilla Von Sorella's book. 

"The biggest mistake I see people make when shopping is throwing their money on what the industry calls 'Fast Fashion,'" she told The List. "This consists of low-quality garments such as mall outlets or Instagram-focused brands that sell outfits for under $25-50." If that price range sounds like your speed, not so fast! Von Sorella explained, "Typically, these brands manufacture their clothing in under-developed countries where workers are paid unfairly." She added that fast fashion could also have a negative impact on the environment, as the clothes may have a "shorter life span."

Instead, says Von Sorella, you're better off investing wisely in better-made clothing for a bit of higher — but still accessible — price. Still not sure? "If it feels cheap, it's because it was made with little care for its longevity," Von Sorella said.

This fashion trend is patchy at best

There's something to be said for using every last bit of fabric you have, especially when the economy is bad and you're trying to make the most of your money. But if you're still deciding how you feel about the patchwork look, take heed.

Image consultant, stylist, and owner of HonorYourStyle, Kendra Porter spelled it out for The List. "Patchwork prints to me just don't stand up well over time," she revealed. This has very little to do with the patches themselves and everything to do with the way the fashion world is always changing. She elaborated, "Fashion is cyclical and patterns are as well." This is why even though we see floral patterns each year, they have subtle differences that change year after year, and that's with a time-tested pattern! So if the same floral pattern doesn't hold up year after year, you can forget about your patchwork standing the test of time. 

"Unless you are a hippie at heart," Porter shared, "I think patchwork will always be an homage to the past or economic downturns (hence using every bit of fabric) and never relevant for any significant amount of time."

Turn down the neon

If you're concerned about buying into fashion trends that aren't worth the money, you can go ahead and say goodbye to all that neon. While floral prints (as different as they may be) are often still relevant year after year, there's a reason we only see neon trending every couple of years. Sure, it may feel cool to be part of the bold and vibrant "It" crowd in your neon separates, but that's a lot of money to spend on something you'll only be able to wear in very specific circumstances. How many neon outfits do you see in the office or at the grocery store? 

Allena Rissa, founder of The Better Fit, told The List in September 2020, that, although neon was all the rage in 2019, "it's quickly fading as a trendy color to wear." Sure, it harkens back to what were simpler times for many of us, but it's probably going to feel dated as soon as you purchase it. In fact, neon activewear was one of the fashion trends people ditched in 2020. Rissa continued, "Whether it's neon activewear or swimsuits, these bright pieces are not worth spending money on. Instead, focus more on floral patterns or stripes."

One-time wears are for the birds

There's not much that's worse than buying an awesome, expensive outfit only to have it hang in your closet, untouched. Almost as bad is wearing a piece just one time and never finding another occasion to dust it off. 

Annie Draddy, co-founder of Henry & Higby, a business of professional organizers who help folks get rid of things they don't need, knows all about things that hang in a closet for way too long. Her advice for overspending on fashion trends is to avoid buying things for a specific occasion. She told The List, "Our best advice when it comes to buying fashion trends is to buy things that you love and can and will wear regularly." 

No more of those New Year's Eve dresses that will hang in your closet from now until eternity or sequined tops you'll wear one time to a club with your girlfriends, only seeing the light of day every two or three years. It just isn't worth it. "The cost of fast and/or trendy fashion when it comes to our closets, our wallets and the environment is immeasurable," Draddy shared. Make sure you really think about what you're buying before you click confirm.

Bag the micro bags

Women's handbags have long been the subject of both jokes and awe. There's a lot we need to carry — from tissues and makeup to period products, medications, and, well, pretty much anything that will fit. With so much to carry, how are you possibly going to fit it all into one of the trendy micro bags you're seeing everywhere? 

Gracie Davies, fashion designer at The Fashion Jacket, explained, "Even though it was met with instant adoration because it adds the element of class and also it is 'highly instagrammable,' the major downside is the functionality of the toy like proportioned bag." Davies noted that due to its size, "we cannot use these bags to keep our cell phone, mints or let alone a wallet!" 

Bianca and Paola Muns, founders of MUNS The Brand, agreed. They noted that, even though the tiny bag trend has been around for a while and many designers have their own version, it doesn't have staying power. They shared, "They end up being very unpractical because nothing fits in it and [they're] sold at extremely high prices. This trend will eventually disappear, leaving these bags to waste and with no option of repurposing these pieces."

Free your closet from fur

We all know that wearing fur is controversial, to say the least, but even the fashion pros are beginning to agree that fur isn't where you should put your hard-earned money. Celebrity stylist Avon Dorsey noted that many people are focused on saving money right now and that there are many great trends to choose from that won't break the bank. However, he remarked, "The only trend that I would avoid right now is purchasing any new fur, obviously for economical reasons but also from an ethical and sustainable standpoint." 

If it's the look you're going for, there are other ways to accomplish that, whether you end up going for faux fur or something repurposed. Dorsey continued, "There are so many fur options already available on the market and we don't need more animals to suffer because of a trend. You can simply up-cycle and re-work a thrifted or vintage fur, and feel good knowing that you're not perpetuating an unnecessary process."

Choose your shoes wisely

According to Christian Dior (via Marie Claire), "You can never take too much care over the choice of your shoes." So when you're choosing your next trendy footwear, take another moment to think about wearability as well as style

Fashion designer Priscilla Von Sorella told The List that low wearability often leads to trends going out of style quickly. "Sure, it's fun to explore new styles, but it can be a poor investment to buy something that will go out of style in a few months," she said. "Think of it this way: if it came into style quickly, it will go out of style just as fast."

Two fashion trends she said fall into this category are plastic shoes with a see-through exterior and "dad shoes," those chunky, bulky designer sneakers with high socks. Von Sorella continued, "I just personally don't see how these trends became popular and I think if consumers are only following to be a part of the trend, then it's for the wrong reason."

Your sweater and belt have quite the carbon footprint

People have been making leather for bags, clothing, and shoes for more than 7,000 years. That's a long time for a particular style to be circulating in and out of fashion, but leather just isn't worth the money.

Joey Clark, stylist and owner of Kin Boutique, shared, "Even though I do believe in investing in a few key genuine leather pieces, there's no longer a need to break the bank without sacrificing on style." She also revealed that the fabrications being used to produce vegan leather look and feel real, plus they're more environmentally conscious.

Courtney Barriger, sustainable fashion expert and creator of E.S.NOW, agreed and even took it a step further, eschewing the trends of wool and cashmere as well, noting that their environmental impact means "you should walk away from it this year." Indeed, the demand for cashmere is contributing to the complete decimation of grasslands in Mongolia, and the 2017 "Pulse of the Fashion Industry" report ranked the production of wool as more polluting than rayon, polyester, acrylic, and spandex. In fact, the report put wool second behind only silk for the greatest impact on global warming when it comes to fabrication.

Bulky utility jumpsuits are a stiff sale

Jumpsuits and rompers are certainly having a moment and make up one of the fashion trends that completely took over the past decade, despite the challenges they pose when trying to use a restroom in public. While most trendy jumpsuits have been limited to light, breathable fabrics (and therefore to the warmer months), a new trend is emerging. Utility jumpsuits made with heavier material are better-suited for colder months, but that doesn't mean it's a fashion trend you should spend your money on.

Lisa Langel, founder of Scout and Poppy, told The List, "This is a style that is difficult to find a flattering fit with for most body types. They look bulky and heavy materials like denim can make them stiff and uncomfortable." Who wants to wear something stiff and uncomfortable that requires you to get totally exposed in a public restroom? There are far better ways to look trendy, and, as Langel noted, utility jumpsuits "are just not practical in [day-to-day] life." 

Her advice? If you really want to try the utility jumpsuit trend, don't invest a lot of money in one because the trend is likely to be gone before you know it.

You're busy, but the fashion trends you follow shouldn't be

Everything old is new again and that also applies to tie dye. But if you've ever tried to style tie dye, you know that it's no easy feat. 

Nina Dias, capsule wardrobe expert and founder of Cute Capsule, explained that while incorporating tie dye into your rotation will certainly put you on trend, it isn't without its challenges. "Tie dye has been a huge trend this spring and summer and we saw this print on dresses, t-shirts and even sweatpants all over Instagram," she revealed when speaking to The List in September 2020. "Although the trend seems to continue, I wouldn't advise in investing your money in it." She explained that tie dye clothing is often bright and busy, and so it doesn't go well with other items you'd want to style. "You probably won't get a lot of wear out of them," she noted. 

Sure, you could absolutely make your own, but how crafty are you really?

Don't be baited by the fisherman look

Hats are a great accessory for many reasons: sun protection, covering up a bad hair day, temperature regulation — the list goes on. That said, not every hat is a winner, and bucket hats just aren't where you should spend your paycheck. Sure, we all want to look like bucket hat enthusiast Rihanna, but Rihanna would look good with a potato on her head. So the average person may not quite pull off a bucket hat. Instead, you're more likely to look like Gilligan than a style icon. 

Scout and Poppy founder Lisa Langel agreed, asking, "Who knew that the fisherman hat would hit the runway?" It isn't that hats are a bad idea entirely — just that bucket hats in particular don't have the kind of staying power that makes them worth the cost. "I am all for sun protection," Langel said, "but I am not sure it's the most flattering look." Instead, Langel suggested opting for another style of hat, and she predicted wide-brim hats will continue to trend over bucket hats.

Leave the capes to the comic books

While it's true that capes are nothing new in fashion, that doesn't mean they're a fashion trend you should invest in. Sure, they look really cool and come in all sorts of colors, fabrics, and styles, but how often will you wear one?

Cassandra Sethi, personal stylist and founder of Next Level Wardrobe, told The List she'd advise her clients to stay away from capes, even if they're trending. "I don't know many people who would wear a cape day to day (besides superheroes) or know how to wear it in a complete outfit," she said. In fact, she told The List that being able to pull together a complete outfit is the secret to looking great, and trendy fashion doesn't easily lend itself to that. "I generally stay away from trends for my clients because most don't know how to create full outfits with them. And let's be honest, most of us aren't walking the red carpet and don't dream of being the center of attention." 

So even if you are something of a superhero balancing work, family, and your passions, it's probably best to leave the capes to the superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Don't waste your money trying to fit in

With so many fashion trends, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking you need to change your own personal style to fit in. Diane Pollack, a clothing designer-turned-stylist, told The List that this is the wrong way to think about trends. "I always say that trends are suggestions and not mandate," she said. So, because trends come and go, it's best to focus on your own personal style.

Fashion designer Priscilla Von Sorella agreed. "My advice is to not purchase trendy fads that aren't true to your style," she said. "If you're only buying it because you saw your favorite influencer wear it and not because it is something you would normally wear, you may just be following a quick trend." And that's just a waste of money.

If you're not sure about a piece of clothing, try it on! Pollack shared, "For me this year, I tried on a few of the puffy sleeve tops. Although I admire them on others, it did not feel like my style." She added that the worst fashion trends "are ones that aren't authentic to you and your personal style." If you're going to spend money, spend it on something you'll like for years to come.