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No one has to look alike. No one has to squeeze into an unflattering must-have item just because a few fashion insiders deemed it must-have. After years of the industry preaching personal style, it seems it’s taking its own advice, and designers seem more concerned with carving out their own look — and gaining fans of it — than jumping on an inauthentic trend.

Women can approach fashion as if they have options, Mr. Zee said. Take colorblocking, for example.

“I’ve said that’s a ‘trend’ for five seasons. This season I’ll say it’s black and white, and maybe last year I said it was red and pink, but the look hangs out, has a longer life, and that gives you a broader sense of style,” Mr. Zee said.

When tastemakers began touting “personal style,” Mr. Zee said, he wasn’t fully sure they meant it. But say something often enough, and people start believing it.

“In the moment, maybe it was a marketing ploy,” he said, “but then came ‘Sex and the City’ — which I think was a tent pole of personal style — and then the Internet and the popularity of ‘street style,’ and now I think women are saying, ‘I’m going to do what I like to do.’”

Going into 2013, Ms. Salzman said, consumers have developed a mindset that will focus on a bigger picture than one snapped at the end of a catwalk.

“We’re going to spend more time thinking about what it means to buy something, and we’re much more engaged about what our clothing says as our signature,” she said.