In this world fashion brings about three kinds of people: People who push fashion forward, people who follow the latest trends, and people who simply don’t care. Since everyone wears clothes (at least we hope), what are the biggest differences among these groups of people? Where do they get their fashion inspiration?

So Who Leads Fashion, Who Follows, and Who Doesn’t Care

To get to the heart of these questions, we dove into thousands of survey responses in the CivicScience database. Among those who answered the question, “Which of the following describes your fashion behavior”, 17% of people answered that they follow fashion ideas from the other 16% with fashion expertise. The group who answered, “I’m not into fashion” was the largest, totaling 67%. Those considered fashion innovators and fashion leaders were equal at 8%. In other words, of the 1/3rd of people who pay attention to fashion, about half are on the cutting edge and half follow the trends.

So what differentiates the fashion-conscious from the fashion-oblivious? One difference is age. All three fashion-conscious groups are likely to be in the18 to 24 age group, whereas, the fashion-oblivious tend to be 65 and older. Another distinction between the four groups is origin of fashion inspiration. Fashion innovators are more likely to seek out inspiration from TV/Movies, whereas, fashion leaders tend to study and analyze magazines for inspiration. Because fashion followers and fashion avoiders are not in a quest to make a fashion statement, they tend to receive their inspiration from friends and family. TV, movies, and magazines give people the confidence to push new fashion trends forward; and those who follow the latest trends and do not care as much to follow fashion stick with their friends and family as inspiration.

Everybody Wears Clothes, How do they Decide WHAT to Wear?

As one would assume, age is a strong factor of style choice. The youngest age group in our database, 24 and younger, was most likely to choose sporty/athletic as their favorite style of fashion. Most likely, this age group is attending school and involved in many activities, so dressing in a casual, comfortable sporty/athletic outfit would only make sense. The 25 to 29 age group who are graduating college and searching for a job chose sophisticated/chic as their favorite fashion style; we can’t have newly graduated students going into work wearing work-out clothes. The 30 to 34 age group are more likely to have a steadier job than those who are younger and choose business/professional style of clothing, a step up from sophisticated/chic.

Those who grew up in the 80’s and are now between 35 and 54 choose 80’s revival as their favorite style of fashion, duh. We found the 55 to 64 age group’s favorite style of fashion to be bohemian/hippie/granola and business/professional,one extreme to the next, kind of similar to the 70’s. Then there is the eldest and wisest age group in our database, 65 and older, who has seen all the fashion trends through the years. Business/professional and sophisticated/chic are their favorites.

A person’s age may limit their style choice but where they see fashion trends is the root of their inspiration for such a style of dress. Either consciously or unconsciously, people get their fashion inspiration from the media and the people around them. To understand what inspires different types of people, we asked the question, “Of the following, where do you MOST get your fashion inspiration”. We found that nearly half of people get their fashion inspiration from friends and family. The next most common choices were TV/movies and magazines, equally 17% and 18%. Fashion blogs and social media sites were the least common. From these stats we dug deeper to find the characteristics of people who chose either TV/movies, magazines, fashion blogs, family/friends or social media sites as their fashion inspiration outlet.  


People whose fashion inspiration comes from TV/movies are likely to be 35-44 years old, divorced, and male. They go to the cinema regularly and their favorite genre is most likely horror, although, we don’t know many horror films with good fashion. Another way they get their fashion inspiration is from TV channels, perhaps from CBS and MSNBC, which they watch most often. They also spend 12 hours per week on the Internet, where they may look for clothing but end up purchasing their clothes in stores.


Pictures, articles, and advertisements seen in magazines are another source for fashion inspiration. Magazines tend to give inspiration to women 65 and older. People who derive their fashion inspiration from magazines also prefer drama movies and sedans. People who earn over $150K choose magazines as their source of inspiration more than people of other income ranges and are more likely to have a graduate degree.


Those who turn to fashion blogs as inspiration tend to be women 18 to 24 years old and single, living in an urban community. They are also commonly African American or Hispanic. These fashion-conscious bloggers tend to go to the movies regularly and never watch sports TV. Naturally, those who get their fashion inspiration from fashion blogs shop on the Internet regularly and frequently look online first for clothing before purchasing in stores.


Friends and family are the most inspirational when it comes to fashion, especially for men. Those who gain their sense of fashion from friends and family tend to be 45 to 54 years old, white, and married. They most likely live in a rural community in the US Midwest and drive a truck. If you love Converse shoes and never go to the movies then you probably get your fashion inspiration from friends and family. Funny enough, those who get their fashion inspiration from friends and family are also likely to not shop for clothing. Let’s hope the common middle-aged man’s friends and family have a good sense of fashion because they are not only giving inspiration but also probably doing their shopping as well.


Social media sites such as Pinterest, Tumblr, Polyvore, and Instagram are also sources of fashion inspiration. Those who chose social media sites as the medium where they find most of their fashion inspiration most likely have a Twitter account and spend more than 15 hours per week on Facebook. People who follow the latest trends on social media sites tend to be woman 18 to 24 years old, earning $0-24K, in income, and tend to have a high school education or less.

To Sum Things Up

Overall, the most common way people find fashion inspiration is from friends and family; although, this inspiration is not enough to push fashion forward. What does inspire the fashion-conscious, who innovate and lead the fashion world, are magazines, TV, and movies. Despite all of the new media channels available to consumers, like blogs and social networks, magazines are still the most popular way for the fashion-centric person to find their inspiration, whether they’re 18 or 65.