It has been said that every classic style began as a fashion trend. That makes sense. Take the classic business suit. It looks nothing like the suits men used to wear during the colonial era. So how did we get from there to where we are today? What we consider classic was developed through the natural evolution of fashion trends.
The number one difference between classic style and fashion trends can be explained in one word: time. Classic styles are those that withstand the test of time. Again, the men’s business suit is an excellent example. We have seen some minor modifications over the last 50 or 60 years, but the basic business suit has remained largely unchanged in terms of its overall presentation.
On the other hand, we have seen several trends come and go. The casual suits of the 1980s tell us all we need to know. Pastel colors, T-shirts instead of ties, and dress shoes and socks were trendy back then. But they did not stick around for decades. These days, you would never see a police detective or attorney dressed like the characters of Miami Vice.
Classic Trends Toward Conservative
If you study classic styles, you may have recognized that they tend to lean toward the conservative. A dark colored business suit is considered classic. Business suits sported dark colors two hundred years ago. Dark colors are just considered more reserved, classy, and dignified.
That’s not to say that bright colors are bad. Rather, it simply suggests that they are reserved for certain types of occasions – just as darker colors are. And when it comes to classic trends, darker and more neutral colors seem to prevail. Whether that is due to an inherent bias or something completely unrelated, no one knows. Nor does it really matter.
The point is that classic style choices are considered conservative style choices. There are times when being conservative is the best way to go. The previous example of police detectives and attorneys illustrates this point perfectly.
Representation in a Court Room
If you were the defendant in a court case, how would you expect your attorney to be dressed? You would expect a conservative business suit in a darker color, combined with a white dress shirt and a plain tie. You might even expect your attorney to own a pair of GC Tech shoe covers to keep his shoes clean during inclement weather. Why?
You want the jury to focus on the merits of your case. You don’t want them distracted by the clothing your attorney is wearing. Likewise, your attorney will suggest that you dress conservatively as well. He will recommend a haircut and a shave, if appropriate.
Guess what? Even the judge expects a certain level of taste and decorum in their courtroom. They are not likely to look favorably on an attorney who comes to court dressed in a brightly colored suit with an extravagant hairstyle and a 5 o’clock shadow.
Fashion Trends Come and Go
The long and short of it is that fashion trends come and go. We often call them ‘fads’ for this very reason. Most of them only live for a single season. Some might hang on for a year or two, but they don’t stick around much beyond that. On the other hand, classic styles live for decades.
What is considered classic two hundred years from now will probably look somewhat different from our modern definition. But the one constant is time. Classic styles withstand the test of time. Fashion trends do not. Now that you know the difference, which do you prefer?