growing a minimalist wardrobe: on trend.

April 20, 2016

I use the subway as my barometer. Once I’ve officially started a seeing a pattern of women wearing the same confusing thing on the subway, I  know it’s a trend. Inevitably, I’m late to the party. Flared jeans hacked off above the ankle and hovering above a pair of clunky white leather sneakers? Surely this girl’s marching along to her own drummer, I think. But then I get off the subway and I see another woman with the same crop. Same loose threads a flying. Same white sneaks. 

Oh. It’s a thing. With rules. Now I’m on the lookout.

How many pairs do I see on the streets in a given day? One pair? Two pairs? Now they’re at the park, too? It’s official. I start wondering how long it will be until a pair wends its way into my life. A month? Two? Three years from now, when I finally climb aboard only to discover that people are now wearing jeans with zippers in the knees? I don’t know. Maybe they never make it into my drawer—or onto my body—at all.

Here’s the thing: you’ve got to find your own way. You either dig something or you don’t. And sometimes you come around to something and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes a trend seems so abhorrent that you’re just positive you’ll never and then your friend who always looks fabulous shows up wearing a pair of cropped flares and before you know it the thing that looked bizarre looks amazing. So chic!

It’s funny how these things crop up. (Pun, of course, intended.)

One minute you’re feeling perfectly comfortable in your pair of neat and trim skinny jeans and the next your telling your husband that no, you can’t watch another episode of The Americans, because you’ve got things to do. And things is trolling the internet for the perfect iteration of the cropped flare to suit your inner wild woman. (Inner sheep? Ewe?) And maybe after lots of searching it turns out that cropped flares might just never be your thing, but a cropped wide-leg? Minus the stringy bits? You can dig. Sailor pants? Okay! Let’s do this. In white? In blue? In indigo? Maybe I’ll buy nothing and maybe I will. Maybe it’ll take me a year.

I guess the point is that we get to have fun. And we get to take risks. We get to be perplexed and we get to change our minds. We get to dress up like our much cooler friends if we want to. We shouldn’t throw our money around like lunatics or exploit people in distant lands for the sake of a little trend fix, but if we want to experiment with what it feels like to wear a cropped pant? I say we go for it. We get to live a little. And if living a little for you—or me—means wearing some ivory-colored cropped pants with your trusty sweatshirt of the same color and a pair of high-topped sneakers, and if that makes you feel sort of like a painter out of central casting circa 1950, and if feeling like an old-time movie painter makes you feel wonderful for whatever the reason, well, then, terrific. Break rules when you want to. Follow trends when you want to. Don’t forget to have fun. Three cents for a Wednesday.

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  • Reply Erin April 20, 2016 at 8:50 am

    Holy shyte.

    I’m pretty sure that we just zapped back into late 1990’s/early 2000’s.

    I KNOW for a fact that I wore “shell tops” (as we in South Jersey called those sneakers) in my late teens, early twenties (also late 1990’s/early 2000’s). I had quite a few pair.

    I THINK that I had weird cropped flair jeans like that in college (see above time line). Mine weren’t frayed, but they were just as peculiar.

    I don’t think I will be boarding this trend train. But, I also never thought I would buy ankle booties and alas – there is a pair (barely worn) in my closet. Don’t even get me started on the peep toe variety though (if it’s cold enough to wear boots, why would you want your toes sticking out???).

    Fun post.


    • Reply Heather April 20, 2016 at 3:04 pm

      I think you’re right that we’re replaying the late 1990s / early 2000s. And I am also skipping the flared crops this time around. 🙂 However, my brother has happyily dusted off his cool-again 20-year-old Doc Marten’s and was proudly showing the “made in England” on the soles as proof of their vintage.

      • Reply Erin April 21, 2016 at 9:46 am

        NICE! I may or may not have bought a pair of those double strap Birks that I know I had in the late 90’s. Sadly, this time around it was because my Dr told me I needed more orthopedic shoes and not because I thought they were trendy/cute. 😮

        • Reply Erin Boyle April 21, 2016 at 11:58 am

          But then, win!

    • Reply Emily Mahi'ai June 1, 2016 at 11:51 am

      I adore this post. You put into words my exact feelings on following trends. Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes not, and that’s okay! To each their own. I personally love those chunky white sneakers but can’t bring myself to like the cropped flare thing…but Kamm sailor pants I can dig. Anyway, just found your blog and am having a blast going through it. So good!

  • Reply Cordelia April 20, 2016 at 8:59 am

    I love all three of these cents! I have been downsizing from a house to an apartment, which means downsizing my closet. I just recently realized I had no idea what styles and trends I actually like – and what I like because my “much cooler friends” wear them. Time to get really present to what I am wearing and why. Thank you for your morning inspiration! Can’t wait to continue to simplify!

  • Reply Alli April 20, 2016 at 9:14 am

    Oh this made me laugh. As the previous commenter mentioned, we definitely wore those “pirate” pants during the early 2000’s. And I am from South Jersey as well! I had those white sneakers too, but they had a green stripe. My husband hated that I kept them for so long. In fact I threw them out just a few years ago. To think, I could have kept them and been on trend again. Thank you for the early morning laugh! I say wear what you want!

  • Reply Abbie April 20, 2016 at 9:55 am

    “If feeling like a movie painter makes you feel fantastic” LOVE it. Brightened my morning Erin 🙂

  • Reply Jennifer April 20, 2016 at 10:05 am

    A favourite post! The whimsical prose felt like a fresh breeze. Having the window open on a spring morning made that experience literal. I’ve been following your blog for a couple of years, also bought your book, and continue to look forward to your words!

    An idea: if shorter pants are now the rage, big sisters rejoice! All one needs to do is borrow a pair of little sis’ flares. Or a shorter friend. Or, in my case, an old pair from shorter high school years à la turn of the millennium, freshly hacking (pun!) the bottom hem!

  • Reply Anna April 20, 2016 at 10:12 am

    Ha! This cracked me right up – an excellent start to my morning. I agree: no to the cropped flares, but heck yes to the sailor pants, and heck yes to the irrational joy of a (perhaps goofy) outfit that just feels wonderful.

  • Reply Lindsay April 20, 2016 at 10:12 am

    see, i think this cropped flare trend is just a big “screw you” from the denim industry to short girls like me. there is no way this look will flatter my body, so i’m letting it go the way of wedge sneakers, peep-toe booties (i’m with erin, above, on this one) and gaucho pants before it.

  • Reply Jessie April 20, 2016 at 11:20 am

    Love. I haven’t quite gone full capsule but I’ve been intentionally narrowing down my personal style and slowly investing in ethical/sustainable for the past 2 years or so. I’ve discovered that trends just don’t grab me the way they used to. I still have boyfriend jeans from 2005 and wide leg jeans from 2008 in rotation and I continued to wear them when they were “out of style” because I just like them (and they’re comfy)! I did spring for an off-the-shoulder item in the form of a two-piece dress from the Vetta Capsule kickstarter (sustainable fabrics and made in NYC!), which I recognized as similar to one of my favorite outfits from 5th grade!

  • Reply Emilie April 20, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Amen! One of the things I appreciate about friends raised in European countries is: they are are so individual in their style. It took me a while to let trends roll on by and find clothes that were a reflected. But once I did that, there was no looking back. Thanks for such a wonderful post, Erin!

  • Reply Emilie April 20, 2016 at 11:33 am

    ….. meant to put “clothes that were a reflection of me”

  • Reply Theresa April 20, 2016 at 11:58 am

    I adore cropped flares! And those Kamm pants are dream pants for sure! Wish I could cough up the cash for a pair!

  • Reply Breanna April 20, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    I was once vehemently opposed to peplum tops/dressed. I finally realized they are AMAZING and everything I ever wanted. Now I have three peplum tops and a peplum dress. I am trying to do this capsule wardrobe thing, but I can’t see myself getting rid up those tops. It’s a process, right?

    • Reply Erin Boyle April 20, 2016 at 1:43 pm

      don’t get rid of them. KEEP WHAT YOU LOVE!!!!

  • Reply Kari.M April 20, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    Oh, my. So many ridiculous things that women will wear in the name of trends. Love your sense of humour. And I’ll take what you’re wearing now over cropped flares or sailor pants, any day.

    • Reply Erin Boyle April 20, 2016 at 1:44 pm

      Getting to be ridiculous is half the fun though!

  • Reply Kim (R) April 20, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    I don’t get this cropped flare trend at all. It looks like someone took some of their old pants from the mid-late 90s that they’ve outgrown and put em on. That said, I think your cropped pant painter outfit in this post is great! So, to each their own. I’m not saying I won’t ever try a trend again and yes, I have done trendy in the past (those 90s flared pants I mentioned were mine). I’ve just realized that my style is mostly black grandma clothes and I don’t see that changing all that much in the future.

  • Reply Sydni April 20, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    I’m always late to trends too. Liked your post and thoughts buuuut I think those cropped flares look awful!! So bizarre!

  • Reply shannon April 20, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    Incredibly timely – I just looked through the new J Crew catalog last night and was complaining to my husband about all of those cropped flares! I don’t understand it!

  • Reply Alessia | April 20, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    Such a good timing for this post! Was wondering what my summer wardrobe would look like and realising that now, being 37, I can feel free to not conform anymore. Going to try to look like a movie painter this year 😉

  • Reply Hannah April 20, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    Definite yuck on the cropped flares. For me that’s an “avoid at all costs” look!

  • Reply Lucy April 20, 2016 at 8:09 pm

    Great post!
    I’m kind of sick of all my skinny jeans, but not really sure what’s next. The cropped flares are sort of odd (although I welcome any trend involving comfortable shoes). I’m currently 3 months pregnant so fortunately/unfortunately I have a self-imposed moratorium on non-stretchy clothing purchases. I’ll figure out the futurepants thing in 2017 I guess.

  • Reply Ariel April 20, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    I hear you, lady! We should all feel the freedom to try something new and experiment if we want to, if only for the reason that it’s fun. Though there are some trends I am happy to have seen disappear like low-rise jeans. One trend (anyway I *think* it’s a trend, but I’m pretty out of the fashion loop…) I would like to try is the jumpsuit. If cut the right way and tied at the waist, it seems like it can be quite flattering. So I am on the hunt for a good one! I also recently bought a wool rancher hat with a wide brim, which was thrilling because I’ve always been a self-proclaimed “no hats” person except when at a baseball game or at the beach. Who knows if it will become a staple of my wardrobe or if it will just be fun for awhile, but I certainly have been enjoying wearing it, even if it feels just a little silly up here in New England where that type of accessory is not really a thing.

    • Reply Erin Boyle April 21, 2016 at 11:59 am

      Yes! Go for the jumpsuit!

  • Reply Ro April 21, 2016 at 10:40 am

    I wonder…. did too many makers of flare jeans not size the length properly? And now some are cutting them off because they are too short but too cute? Two weeks ago, my millennial-aged daughter regretfully returned a very cute pair of flare jeans because they were too short and the extra-long length was sold out. We actually discussed the idea that she could make them into crops but decided that that would be weird – haha

  • Reply Kate April 21, 2016 at 11:05 am

    These cropped flair jeans remind me of all the girls going from 3rd to the 4th grade wearing last year’s worn out flairs because suddenly it’s September and it’s cold and their mom hasn’t had time to buy new jeans since their last growth spurt. It seems all a bit too hipster ironic to me.

    • Reply Erin Boyle April 21, 2016 at 11:58 am

      To each her own!

  • Reply Gpc April 21, 2016 at 11:54 am

    I have been wearing cropped flared denim for years. I guess every style of denim can now be called a “trend”? I am so tired of the generalization. Where what makes you feel good, plain and simple…

    • Reply Erin Boyle April 21, 2016 at 11:57 am

      Definitely the spirit of the post! Wear what you wanna!

  • Reply Mun April 21, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    Agree! Being thoughtful is not about stopping all the fun. Live life to the max!

  • Reply michelle April 21, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    I take NYC subways too and yes I’ve seen what you’re talking about! I honestly think those pants are hideous and have all the wrong proportions. I like similar shoes to the adidas, and love the simple retro-ness about them, but they simply look terrible. I started wearing Birkenstock Arizonas last year because of my flat feet and alignment issues, but actually love it’s laid back style despite the trend.

    Great post! Thanks, Michelle from

  • Reply Julia April 21, 2016 at 9:25 pm

    love this post! for some reason your words have struck a particular chord with me, today (which is saying something because most of your words strike a chord with me!)

  • Reply Ana Mo Shoshin April 22, 2016 at 8:39 am

    Oh, trends!
    I will not be wearing cropped flares.

    (but never say never)

  • Reply kari April 22, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    Your opening lines caught my eye. I love how you approached the complexity (perplexity?) of trends from the perspective of an urban dweller, a subway rider. I too live in a big city, though one of a very different flavor. Although like you I am a people watcher, I had to laugh at the idea of tracking trends by the attire of metro transit riders in my area. If I followed the subway trends of DC, I’d look forever stiff, somber, and important in black and gray suits (or else bold, bright and out of place like the seasonal tourists, the youngest of which wear matching tees to aid their chaperones). DC commuters seem more career conscious (in a desk job way) than folks in any other city I’ve visited, and they generally don’t take fashion risks! 🙂

  • Reply Anea May 26, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    I’ve just discovered your blog through reading your book! I loved it to bits and I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts 🙂

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