We are halfway through the season, and truly, it’s been one of the best Spring retail seasons I’ve seen. A large variety of wearable clothing and footwear silhouettes across different colours and lifestyles means that there is something for everyone. My clients, both dressy and casual, are extremely happy with their purchases. And I’m having the best Spring shopping season ever.
Let’s start with the positives.
- An Abundance of Spring Knitwear & Toppers: Retailers have finally taken into account that it’s cold in the Spring. Spring knitwear has been brilliant in cashmere, wool and cotton blends. The variety of toppers — from long Spring coats to short leather motos, blazers and boxy jackets — has been equally good. Fashion has kept us warm and covered for longer instead of heading straight to flimsy naked clothing at the beginning of February. Hallelujah.
- Large Colour Assortment: There’s just about every colour available at the moment. Pastels, brights, jewel tones, neon, earth tones, mid-tones, and muted mid-tones are pretty easy to find. There’s also a huge assortment of neutrals, especially in shades of white.
- Ink Blue: It’s great to see this dark shade of blue make a trendy comeback. Many people resort to black and grey because that’s all there is. Now we have ink blue as the softer and, for some, more flattering option. That’s how it should be.
- More Tops with Sleeves: Retailers have heard our pleas. A greater proportion of tops this season have sleeves, and different style sleeves at that. A few years ago, a larger portion of tops were sleeveless, which wasn’t a good idea at all.
- Longer Length Skirts: At last, there’s a larger assortment of knee-covering skirts thanks to the midi trend.
- Forgiving Silhouettes: Fashionable fits are fluid and oversized. Oversized fits can be hard to get right, but I’m thrilled with the abundance of fluid fits. It’s been so much easier to shop for tops and bottoms with clients now that there is life after body con fits.
- Lower Heel Heights: Although flats and heels over three inches are still the most popular fashionable shoe, availability of heels in the one to two inch range has improved. Long may it last.
- Fabulous Non-Premium Denim: Non-premium denim has never looked as good. More of my clients are shopping cost-saving non-premium denim these days because the fits can be better, the sizes more consistent, and the quality just as good.
Of course, no retail season is without its shortcomings.
- Bad Dress Season: Retail is still full of dresses that are too short, too casual and too juvenile to wear to work. And please give us something other than a sleeveless sheath dress. Mini and maxi dresses to wear to the beach or in extremely casual settings are aplenty. But finding a slightly more sophisticated frock in a sturdy fabrication with sleeves is a tall order. Especially in solid woven fabrics.
- Lack of Tailored Pieces: Items that are more fitted than fluid, but not as fitted as body con, have become a rarity. This is problematic because most people like to wear tailored fits. They are conventionally flattering and always in style. We need more tailored top options.
- Premium Denim Sizing: Sizing is all over the place, and in most cases one to two sizes smaller than it used to run. Many of my clients are sizing up when purchasing new premium denim, while their measurements have stayed the same. This means that people who wear the larger premium denim sizes are being sized out. It also means that people who were sized out on the smaller side of the size curve can wear premium denim. So it’s a plus for the super small framed lady.
- Cropped Pants Overload: It’s hard to find trousers that are full length at the moment because the market is saturated with cropped pants for the third season in a row. Hopefully this will not continue into Autumn and Winter.
I haven’t noticed Radiant Orchid, which Pantone named the colour for 2014, gain momentum at all. That’s a pity because it’s a colour that works well across a variety of complexions. Perhaps it will surface over the next few months.
Finally, the biggest gap in the market is the size between Regular and Plus size departments. Size US14 and 16 gals often find that the largest size in Missy is too small, but the smallest size in Plus is too large. Intuitively, you’d expect that the smallest size in Plus would be cut a size up from the largest size in Missy. But it’s actually cut wider and larger everywhere, and is not just an even size up. So things don’t end up fitting at all. The retail world needs to either cut one size smaller in Plus, or adjust their size specifications for sizes 14 and 16 in Missy.
Over to you. What’s your take on the best and the worst of Spring 2014 fashion?