In the wild west of the zeitgeist, Kelly Bertrand is done with TikTok trends and refuses to become a mob wife. What a sentence.
I don’t want this story to come across as grumpy millennial, or evoke an image of a slightly withered and very jaded 30-something who is clinging onto her skinny jeans and cry-laugh emoji as if what’s left of her life depended on it.
But this morning was the tipping point of my tolerance for trends. Glancing down at my various feeds, hundreds of young influencers shouted at me that the ‘clean girl aesthetic’ is dead. Instead, we’re now going with ‘mob wife’.
MOB WIFE. Which really means slightly smudged eyeliner, faux (of course) fur coats and undone big hair, rather than the slicked back buns and dewy skin and tiny tiny t-shirts of the clean girl.
Basically, Adriana from The Sopranos.
Why? No one bloody knows. But if TikTok is to believed you should throw out all your gloss and minimalist pants glazed doughnut nail supplies and instead head to Pagani, presumably, to stock up on leopard print (omg imagine if this is the resurrection of Pagani I just… can’t.)
We’re really in the wild west when it comes to how the zeitgeist affects our wallets, our homes and our personalities. If you’ll forgive the irony, we’re in an era of ‘eras’ – a time of *aesthetics* and vibes and trends that change faster than Taylor tickets sell out.
We’ve always had trends – they define decades and express the cultural complexities and changes of times gone by (and give us so much to work with for dress up Christmas parties). But trends used to stick around longer, they were deeper and more nuanced and told us something about the time they represented – grunge in the 90s, futuristic optimism of the 00s, the free-love moments of the 60s.
Now, apparently, all it takes is Hailey Bieber making a disgusting $40NZD smoothie at an LA supermarket to shift our collective zeitgeist towards a trend (please take it from me, a person who has been to Erewhon and had that exact smoothie on a press trip that it’s absolutely foul, horrifically sweet and cost our PR host $270NZD for our group of seven).
As the world begins to turn its back on consumerism and say no to fast fashion, it’s time to say no to fast trends and TikTok trends – not just in fashion, but in all areas of our lives.
It’s no to the stupid fad diets and yes to doing the basic shit well – good food, good exercise.
It’s no to buying Stanley cups that are so huge they don’t fit into your car cup holders, so you have to go to Mitre 10 and by down pipes to make your own – especially when you don’t even drink that much water anyway.
This is also not a holier-than-thou yarn about myself being immune to what my phone is telling me is cool. I all of a sudden own so many claw clips, I too have had a weird hankering to spend a shit tonne of money on a fancy drink bottle (I work from home!?) and even though I don’t really love ripple champagne glasses, I own so many because, *aesthetic*. I get suckered into a targeted ad as much as the next basic bitch who’s had a few too many vinos on a Friday night, and look, yay for me.
But what I want to do is get better at defining what MY style truly is, and bringing in different bits and bobs from classic trends and new vibes to create something that’s ME, not Instagram’s.
I want to go back to ‘jeans and a nice top’ because surely that’s the true legacy millennials have left on the world.
I want just one way to contour my face because it took me five years to learn how to do the first way properly, I don’t have the mental capacity to do figure eights or dots or any other shape.
I want to invest in classic stuff that’ll last longer, rather than getting sucked into trendy statement pieces that’ll end up at the op shop in 12 months.
In a conversation with my pal Lucille last year, something she said really struck me and stayed with me (she’s in charge of communications for Bumble so as you can imagine she’s a bloody oracle when it comes to life advice).
“Kelly,” she asked me. “Think about this. If you couldn’t post whatever you’re doing or buying or thinking to social media, would you still do it?”
I’m an average user of Instagram – I might post to my stories every other day, and lots of it is work stuff. But this question gave me pause. Do I only post things, or like things, because I think it’s what Instagram wants or will like?
Is it a sign of a millennial adrift in a trend-forward world for younger players that she doesn’t quite understand? Probably. I did just by small narrow sunglasses that I KNEW wouldn’t suit my face and just made me look like a sad round blueberry. I even bought a damn candle lamp after writing this somewhat scathing hit piece on them because, I don’t know, something in my brain circuited?!
So for this year, I’ve picked a few key words that’ll be my guide through whatever bloody era we’re entering into. No matter what becomes cool, these will be my touch points, my keystones, my parameters to my vibes.
For me, a type A, organised minimalist who loves the odd pop of colour, my words will be:
STRUCTURED. BOLD. CLASSIC. UNFUSSY.
From clothes to décor to how I organise my day, this is me for 2024 – if new TikTok trends happens to fit one of those words, great – I can bring some zeitgeist into my life and feel cool and young and shiny.
WHILE wearing jeans and a nice top, obviously.