What Is a Fashion Victim?

Maggie Worth

A fashion victim is a person who does not dress in a way that is flattering to her. This can be because she does not pay attention to fashion and, therefore, wears old-fashioned or out-dated styles. It can also be because she doesn’t understand what works for her body type and lifestyle and ends up dressing in unflattering clothes. It might also be because she follows every fashion trend indiscriminately, without regard to whether the trend is sensible for her lifestyle or even attractive on her. Regardless of the cause, a fashion victim’s attire and appearance are unattractive, inappropriate, or both.

A fashion victim selects out-dated or inappropriate clothing.
A fashion victim selects out-dated or inappropriate clothing.

The term originally referred to a person who was slavishly devoted to fashion trends — someone willing to wear unflattering styles simply because the style was “in.” These people often spent considerable amounts of money to ensure that their wardrobes included all the most recent fashions. Such “trend-hopping,” however, creates a lack of personal or signature style. This category of fashion victim also runs the risk of attaching themselves to styles that never catch on, despite a designer’s best attempts.

A fashion victim does not give regard to whether a fashion trend is attractive on her.
A fashion victim does not give regard to whether a fashion trend is attractive on her.

Eventually, the term evolved to include anyone who is fashion-challenged. This includes people who do not jump on every new fashion trend, but simply do not know how to choose cuts and colors that flatter their own figures and features. These people may think they are disguising a feature they dislike when they are actually accentuating it. For example, a woman may wear baggy clothing in an attempt to hide extra weight, but this can actually make her look bigger when a more tailored cut would make her appear slimmer.

Other fashion victims simply ignore style all together. They wear whatever is comfortable, inexpensive or easy, without regard to appearance or garment quality. They may not consider whether the colors or patterns on various clothing and accessory pieces go well together and may have no interest in whether their clothing is flattering to them or not.

The term "fashion victim" is said to have been coined by noted designer Oscar de la Renta. Versace also is quoted as saying that a fashion victim is a women who changes her look too often based on fashion trends. It has become a commonly-used term on fashion and style shows to indicate someone in need of a fashion intervention. Expert advice usually focuses on finding the style that is right for the individual, rather than adopting specific fashion trends.

A fashion victim’s attire and appearance are unattractive, inappropriate, or both.
A fashion victim’s attire and appearance are unattractive, inappropriate, or both.

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Discussion Comments


@irontoenail - This is a difficult thing to talk about in some ways, because people do strongly identify with clothing as a means of showing identity. And I agree that people should be allowed to wear whatever they want without being harassed, but I also think that evaluation of fashion choices is inevitable and maybe should even be encouraged to some extent, as long as it is kind and fair.

The thing is, you can't talk about how wonderful someone looks without having some kind of comparison. Which doesn't mean that another person has to be put down, but fashion is a form of art and those who set the trends should be acknowledged, while those who don't really understand them should be acknowledged as well.

I see it as somewhat like realizing that there are people out there who claim to be artists but have no talent and no work ethic to develop their talent. To me, that is the equivalent of a fashion victim.


@umbra21 - I hate it when my friends make fun of someone for being a "fashion victim" and not wearing what they think is appropriate. It'll often be either someone older, someone larger or someone wearing clothes that they don't consider to be of the right gender.

But it all reeks of discrimination to me. I don't see why an older lady shouldn't be allowed to wear a short skirt over tights, for example. If it makes her happy to wear it, what is the harm? I don't think we should judge anyone on what they wear.


I definitely prefer the original meaning of the term. I think it's a good idea to have a specific phrase relating to people who try to jump on every single fashion trend whether it's a good idea for them or not. And the phrase actually makes sense in that context, as they are a victim of the whims of fashion, rather than someone who is a victim of their own lack of fashion sense.

I suppose I probably don't like it as a way to describe someone who likes comfortable clothes rather than fashionable ones because that would certainly describe me. Occasionally I do look like I'm dressed fashionably, but that's only because even a broken clock can be right twice a day.

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