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Navigating Trend Cycles with a Chronic Illness

Twee is back, and the difference between 2014 and now is that I have a chronic illness and find myself looking onto the aesthetic more skeptically. In fact, living with a chronic illness has found me looking at the constant cycling of fashion trends with a certain layer of cynicism. 

In a world where what is defined as ‘on trend’ is constantly shifting and changing, it is often difficult to navigate your illness alongside this. 

I find myself looking at each of these aesthetics and asking: where does this stand when your body does not quite fit the aestheticization of these trends, and how can you come to adapt them for your own body and style? 

The conversation surrounding the revival of the Twee style has come with a critique of the underlying fat-phobia that the initial trend saw, and I think this hones into one of the main flaws of trend cycles. They change and shift so fast that they become reduced down to a polished and packaged image of the style, and fail to branch out to the more practical needs of wearability. 

Aesthetics often miss the comfort that is crucial for people with chronic illnesses, but trends should never be unattainable, no matter your body type. 

Ultimately, all anyone with a chronic illness wants is comfort, especially in their clothes when they may be feeling bloated or experiencing chronic pain. Comfort enables confidence, and if you are wearing clothes that are comfortable, you are less likely to feel the pull to change into your pyjamas and call it a day. 

The last thing you want to worry about is if your body fits the current trend, and if those clothes are designed for you. 

Ironically, if you step outside of the Tumblr-ready image of the Twee style, its key foundations are grounded in comfort. 

Twee is characterised by big collars, chunky knits jumpers, colourful tights, shift dresses and skirts – all items of clothing that offer versatility and a looseness that enables comfort. 

Tights could easily be swapped for leggings to be softer on the stomach, and you could opt for a longer, floatier skirt with a plaid pattern so as to offer looseness on the stomach. Individual elements can be drawn out to incorporate the Twee style into your wardrobe. 

At the end of the day, the core of any trend is simply items of clothes. If we cast aside the notions of an aesthetic that has been curated to sell a certain image of a trend, these trends become increasingly simple. 

I find this to be the most approachable, budget-friendly and sustainable way to navigate trend cycles when your physical body often sits outside of the aesthetic. 

Taking small individual nods to the style and mixing it into a wardrobe that you know is comfortable ensures that you can have countless outfits that you are not going to want to change out of within an hour. 

This basic wardrobe would ideally be curated out of clothes you find comfortable and wearable, for example: a comfortable pair of jeans, t-shirts, turtlenecks and jumpers. For basics such as jeans and skirts, you could opt for elasticated waists or looser fabrics or cuts.

From this staple wardrobe, when any trend cycle arises, you can adapt elements of this aesthetic into a tried and tested wardrobe that you can rely on for comfort.

 With twee, patterns such as plaid and florals lean themselves nicely into mixing with plain staples, for example taking a turtleneck and adding a twee-inspired skirt. Or, opting for chunkier cardigans or thick cable jumpers is another way to add the twee aesthetic into a comfortable style of your own without compromising either way. 

Another foolproof way to incorporate different aesthetics and trends into your wardrobe would be through accessories. 

Twee is dominated by images of people wearing hats, chunky scarves and cross-body satchels – all items that can easily be incorporated into an outfit to infuse the twee trend into your look without compromising on comfort. 

This extends out from the current trend of Twee as well – there is always a way to draw out a comfortable element of a seemingly inaccessible trend. 

Last year saw corsets return to style, which in their very essence are restrictive garments. But, instead, you could opt for a knitted or ribbed fabric that offers the same shape, with less boning and rigid structure. Equally, if low-rise jeans do make the return that seems anticipated, you could look out for elasticated waist options, or stretchier denims. 

Ultimately, as trends go in and out of style, the aesthetics associated with them come as a pre-packaged image of such styles. 

Often times they cater for one body type and leave a myriad of others left feeling trapped outside of such a world. 

For those with a chronic illness, your body often seems to be out of your own control, and it is easy to see these trends with cynicism and feel held back by your illness. But, if you break down each trend to its actual stylistic elements you can easily incorporate them into your wardrobe in a comfortable way that makes you feel confident. 

It is so easy to feel as if your body is in and out of trend when you do not seem to be fitting the image of a trend, but ultimately, all a trend comes down to is clothing. 

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