Fashion has become a complex melting pot of sartorial choices where almost anything goes as long as you add an intentionally trendy component to the outfit. I believe that stylish dressers have a noticeable element of “fashionable now” in their look, which means adding some degree of current fashion, however small.
In line with the biggest trends for the year — Individualism and Maximalism — here’s a shortlist of suggested “must haves” for the warm weather season that cut across all body types, ages, price points and lifestyles. As always, it’s a question of finding the renditions that work best for YOU.
1. Cropped Pants & Jeans
This is still the number one way to update your wardrobes if you like to wear trousers or jeans because we’re living in the era of the alluring ankle. Absolutely any current silhouette of dressy or casual cropped pant or jeans is good. Cropped skinnies and leggings, boyfriend jeans, chinos and cargos that are rolled at the hems, straight and flared crops, harem pants, joggers, cigarette pants, wide crops, culottes and tulip pants — take your pick. Silhouettes can be streamlined, relaxed through the leg, voluminous on the leg, or flare out at the hems. Waistbands can be pleated, paper-bagged, or high rise. Fabrics can be soft and drapey, or stiff and architectural.
There is a version of cropped pants and jeans for everyone and for every occasion. Most styles look best cropped between two to four inches above the ankle bone. Any longer and they tend to look like regular bottoms that are too short. Make the silhouette look intentional.
2. Ankle-Accentuating Footwear
Ankle-accentuating footwear goes hand in hand with cropped jeans or pants. Make sure you have the right footwear to wear with the look. Ankle strap sandals, wrapped footwear (footwear with ties that wrap around the ankle), or pumps with straps that are positioned on or above the ankle bone were made to wear with cropped pants and jeans. Ankle straps that criss-cross along or above the ankle, cage heeled sandals, and gladiators with ankle straps are another way to go.
High-vamped footwear like loafers, oxfords, short-shaft booties, high-shaft booties, cut-out booties, sandal booties, slip-on sneakers, hi-tops, fashion sneakers, mules, slides, platforms, flatforms, and sneaker hybrids can also be great choices to wear with cropped pants. Their high vamps create a continuous visual line with the shorter length of the bottoms, which works well.
By all means wear flat footwear with crops. There is no need to wear a heel, as long as the crops look an intentionally short length.
3. Patterns & Pattern Mixing
‘Tis the season to enjoy pattern to the fullest — especially florals and stripes. Amp it up if you’re a pattern gal. Add some pattern if you’re a solids gal. Go bold if you prefer subtle patterns. Pattern mix if you’re a pattern fashionista. Push your pattern limit.
Embroidered items are the embellished look of the season, but all sorts of bells and whistles are fab. Think fringe, pom poms, lace insets, badges, tassels, ladder lace, bows, beading, and raw denim hems. Go tonal or high contrast. Remix it with patterns and colours, if you dare.
If embellished items aren’t your thing, add bells and whistles to your outfit with accessories like scarves, belts, jewellery, watches, hats, bold make-up, nail polish and rainbow hair.
5. Complex Sleeves
Think beyond the simple set-in sleeve. Wear sleeves with volume and personality, like bell sleeves, lantern sleeves, balloon sleeves, and fluted sleeves. Sleeves that are gathered at the crown are fab, so are shirts with exaggerated cuffs. Cold shoulders are fun, as are tops with pleated shoulders, sleeves with cascading ruffles, and smocked sleeves.
6. Tailored Pieces
The sea of fashionable slouch and oversized silhouettes should be tempered with items that are tailored and fit closer to the body. Also, wear items that define the curve of the bust, waist and hip because that looks FRESH. These items can be fit-and-flare dresses, sheath dresses, bootcut jeans, tailored skinnies or straight legs, fitted tops, tie front tops, peplum tops, pencil skirts, fluted skirts, tailored trousers, structured jackets and structured gilets. Or you can simply wear a roomy top tucked into tailored bottoms to showcase the waist. Remember that tailored fits are tighter than fluid fits, but not as tight as body-con fits.
7. Modern Retro
Modern Retro means combining looks and vibes from past fashion eras with a good dose of Modern. You’ll find that the ‘70s and ‘90s are trending particularly strongly at the moment, but don’t let that hold you back. Think of adding a little or a lot of any fashion era to your look and make it your own. Personally I’m drawn to the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, but perhaps you’re drawn to the ‘20s, ‘30s, ‘40s or ‘50s? Or to the Edwardian or Victorian eras. It’s all good, and all in good fun.
8. Comfort Shoes
It’s unstylish to wear uncomfortable shoes. Full stop. Gone are the days when heels were the way to elevate your style. In fact it’s trendy to wear fashion sneakers with just about any outfit these days (Sporty Luxe for the win.) Supportive flats, low heels up to two inches, stable block heels, soft footbed sandals like Birkenstocks, and shoes with straps that stay on your feet like Mary Janes are all on trend.
Remember that flat shoes needn’t be casual, and that dressy flats do exist. You can absolutely look professional or adequately dressed up in a dressy pair of flats for the office or an event.
9. Non-Neutral Shoes & Bag
We’ve been sporting neutral shoes for what seems like forever. I vote throw in a colour — any colour at all — and wear them with a bag in the same colour as an easy way to pull together an outfit. If you don’t like swapping out your bags, wear a scarf that picks up the colour of the shoes instead.
10. Wild Cards
Add an item to your wardrobe that is atypical for your style persona, but that speaks to you in some way. This is an excellent way to evolve your style, making it feel extra refreshed for the season. Wild cards can be new colours or styles of clothing, footwear and accessories. Or a new way that you wear your hair, your make-up, or put together your outfits.
I’m all over these ways to refresh my own style. Flared cropped jeans have become wardrobe essentials in blue and white, and I have cropped flared trousers too. I’ve added a few bold florals and stripes to my wardrobe this year, as well as a pair of embroidered jeans. The patterned blouses have complex sleeves, which feels fresh for my style. I’ve been into ankle strap footwear, flat oxfords, flat booties and loafers for years. I’m loving my hi-top and low-top fashion sneakers and seldom wear heels. I added new red loafers to wear with an old red bag and I’m loving the combination. Again, it feels fresh for my style. I’m enjoying defining my waist with full-length flared jeans, high-rise wide crops, high-rise flared crops, sailor pants, and fairly fitted cropped knitwear. I’m smitten with Modern Retro silhouettes, wear pearls most days, and love a soft romantic flounce.
Your turn. How does the must haves list look for your style?