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Millennials Don’t Know What to Wear. Gen Z Has Thoughts.

Something about my outfit just wasn’t right.

Was it the height of my socks? The cut of my jeans or sweater?

If you, like me, find yourself asking these questions, there’s a good chance you’re a millennial trying to wade through TikToks that shame your choice of jeans.

We’re not just getting dragged for our skinny jeans. Gen Z is letting us know our choices in socks, shirt cuts, neutral colors, and even buying new instead of used, are tired, outdated — and sometimes even offensive.

Every generation has a hard time keeping up with fashion trends, but Gen Z became the generation to define cool in the era of TikTok, when trends moved faster than ever.

As you let go of curling wands and slim fits, instead of getting overwhelmed (and having early 2000s flashbacks), try these stylists’ tips for embracing new trends while still being true to yourself.

It’s not just you. The rise of TikTok has led to trends changing so quickly that brands and consumers cannot keep up, said Stacey Widlitz, a retail analyst.

“Everything Gen Z consumes is driven by influencers,” she said. “As fast as something comes in is as fast as something can go out.”

As we stayed home in lockdowns, fashion also kept changing.

If you weren’t actively seeking out fashion content, “you missed it,” Payton Dale, 32, a stylist, said, estimating that many people missed up to six different trend cycles over three years of the pandemic.

We’ll get straight to it: It might finally be time to retire your skinny jeans.

Kelly Augustine, 37, a celebrity stylist and size inclusivity advocate, finds ditching skinny jeans to be less about generational change and more about a “post-pandemic freedom.”

“I don’t really want to wear things that are really tight and go down to my ankles,” she said, adding that she is dressing her clients in (and wearing) cargo pants with drawstrings at the bottom and wide-leg pants. Tailoring in the waist and seat is key, she said.

Ashlyn Greer, 33, the founder of the virtual styling service Fashivly, said she was “personally offended” by skinny jeans and suggested a slim, straight jean as a starting point.

“There are ways that we can update and still feel current without going against everything that feels normal,” she said.

But this time, she said in an interview, is different: “We’re talking a seven- or eight-inch rise, not a two-inch rise.”

For Ms. Brunton, it’s about finding the balance between trends and personal style “while also realizing something like a wide-brim Santa Barbara hat can be left in 2012.”

Kendall Hoyt, 25, a digital creator who has three older millennial sisters, said many millennials were “traumatized” by the diet culture of the early 2000s. “A lot of people are scared to show their body or scared to dress too young,” she said. “Those are really limiting beliefs.”

But fear not, she said. Wide-leg jeans do not have to be scary.

Ms. Greer said her favorite all-around jean for multiple body types is the Perfect Vintage Straight Jean from Madewell. For a longer straight jean that has more of a vintage feel, she recommends Reformation’s Val 90s Mid-Rise Straight jeans.

For men, the easiest way to move to a looser fit is to try pants with a relaxed top, from the waist to the knee, but with a slight taper from the knee down. While baggier hems are more popular, Turner Allen, 31, a stylist, suggests wearing a pant that skims the top of the shoe: in denim he suggests a quarter- or half-break. For relaxed jeans, he is a fan of the Baggy Jean from Abercrombie & Fitch and the Loose Fit Jeans from Los Angeles Apparel.

When it comes to dresses and skirts, Ms. Greer said maxi skirts and dresses (specifically denim and sheer materials) are trending, while high-waisted, pleated midi-skirts are on their way out.

Then there’s the tuck: You may be inclined to tuck the front of your blouse into your pants, but what was once known as the chic French Tuck has now been deemed the out-of-date Millennial Tuck, Ms. Greer said.

Consider layering to help define your waistline instead.

Jeans with a sweater look better untucked if you have a jacket layered over the sweater, she said. You can also combine a cropped shirt with a longer jacket, or a longer top with a cropped jacket, to help “break up your body a little bit.”

It’s not just pants and dresses. Stay with me, here.

For men, we’re moving on from clean white minimal sneakers and toward “dad sneakers,” Mr. Turner said. Start with a simple New Balance sneaker, a gateway to more elaborate designs.

For women, it’s time to retire the ankle boots known as mojo booties.

“People really wear them to anything — jail, a funeral,” Ms. Brunton said. “Just no, girl. This is not an all-weather moment.”

No-show or ankle socks were once ubiquitous. Now, showing ankles is “pretty polarizing,” Ms. Greer said. Try layering socks over leggings, or a crew sock or quarter-length sock that shows a little bit over flats or sneakers, she said. (She has other suggestions on boots and clogs here.)

Infinity scarves are out, but blanket scarves, skinny scarves and mid-width waffle-knit or cashmere scarves in neutral colors are good options, she said.

Ms. Augustine suggested adding some feathers or other textures to your look “as a fun way to layer that doesn’t make winter feel like prison.”

The cross-body bag, which millennials have clung to for decades, is out, according to Ms. Hoyt, who called them “tiresome.” Instead, she opts for a shoulder, tote or slouchy bag.

She is also sick of seeing the double-G Gucci belt. “That belt is not being used to hold up your jeans,” she said. “It’s an eyesore.”

Hannah Brown, 32, turned to her TikTok followers for help with a gym outfit that felt outdated.

Her followers recommend she swap her V-neck top for a square-cut, crop top; her ankle socks for a taller, bunched sock to wear over her leggings (definitely not under); white sneakers instead of black ones; and a thicker legging, flare legging or cargo pant.

Ms. Brown said some commenters ridiculed her for asking for suggestions. She should wear whatever she wants, they said.

“I am absolutely with them — take what resonates and leave what doesn’t,” she said. “I think that’s the fun of fashion.”

Stylists of all ages agree: Embrace your style and creativity, whatever that might look like.

“What’s really cool about being in your 30s is you have the opportunity to experiment and figure out your style,” Ms. Dale said.

To jump-start that, Ms. Dale suggested asking yourself: If you could trade closets with anyone in the world, and everything would fit you, who would it be?

Ms. Augustine emphasized the need for staples and good tailoring, regardless of what’s going on in the fashion space. For her that means a great long coat, turtleneck and a good boot (even better, a pointed boot).

But at the end of the day, changing up your look requires a change in mentality. Ms. Brunton encouraged millennials to let go of needing to be perfect.




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