Today’s fashion is 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 large or small. It’s all about the two foundations of modern fashion today: Individualism, making it personal, and Maximalism, to the extent that works for you.
Here’s a shortlist of suggested “must haves” for the warm and hot-weather season. They cut across body types, ages, price points and lifestyles. As always, it’s a question of finding the renditions that work best for YOU.
1. Midi Dresses & Skirts
I’m very excited. For the first time in a VERY long time, dresses and skirts with a little more length are available in retail stores and completely mainstream. A knee-covering skirt or dress (that is not a maxi) is no longer a highly elusive wardrobe item. Goodness knows why it took this long to filter down to retail since catwalks have been showing the midi trend for years. Better late than never, and that’s why it’s the first thing on my must haves list this year.
’Tis a dress and skirt season, and my suggestion is to milk it. There are all sorts of fabulous casual, smart casual and dressy dresses and skirts in stores across a range of silhouettes, colours, fabrics and sizes. Tall clients who have battled to find dresses with sufficient length are hitting the jackpot, and I did too.
The explosion of colour has been sublime for lovers of non-neutrals. There are wardrobe items across a large assortment of colours — pastels, brights, earth and jewel tones — and now is your chance to take advantage. If you enjoy wearing non-neutrals, try new-to-you colours and remix them into outfits in fresh ways. If you’re a neutral gal, try adding a colour or two, even if it’s in the form of an accessory or pair of shoes.
3. Florals, Polka Dots, Stripes, Gingham & Pattern Mixing
These are timeless patterns with a high longevity factor, yet they’re having their fashion moment. I call them Trendy Classics. Easy-to-like patterns that you can add to your style in any wardrobe item in neutrals or non-neutrals. Choose one or more and have fun pattern mixing with them too.
Choose subtle and low-contrast versions of these patterns if solids are more your thing. Choose them in an accessory or pair of shoes if you don’t want to commit to a wardrobe item.
4. Cropped Pants & Jeans
This is still one of the best ways to update your wardrobe if you like to wear trousers and 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, utility pants 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, so make the silhouette look intentional. Two inches is quite the sweet spot, especially with wider calves.
5. Volume on the Bottom
Think further than just skinnies, pencil skirts and sheath dresses, and try a little or a lot of volume on the bottom. It needn’t be extreme. Subtle works well if that’s more your cup of tea. Try wearing culottes, wide crops, Mom jeans, pleated pants, paper-bag waists, cropped flares, cropped straights, A-line skirts, A-line skirts with asymmetrical hems, flared skirts with inverted pleats, bubble skirts, ruffled skirts, tiered skirts, fit-and-flare dresses, tiered dresses, shift dresses, sack dresses and straight dresses.
6. High Rise
High-rise jeans, pants and skirts are the most on-trend. The point is to SHOWCASE the waist by fully or semi-tucking a top, or wearing a cropped untucked top. Don’t hide the rise with a long and roomy top. The best way to showcase a high rise when you’re self-conscious about the midsection is to wear a tailored bottom without too much stretch with a semi-tucked top. Stretch fabrics are comfortable when they’re tight, but they create muffin top so go for something less tight.
Embroidery is once again the embellishment of the season, but all sorts of other bells and whistles are also fab. Think fringe, pom-poms, lace insets, badges, tassels, ladder lace, bows, beading, lacing, sequins, 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, brooches, watches, hats, bold make-up, nail polish and rainbow hair.
Reduce slouch and oversized silhouettes by wearing items that are tailored and fit closer to the body. Think about defining the curve of the bust, waist and hip because it looks FRESH. Tailoring goes hand in hand with wearing volume on the bottom because it’s a way of adding structure to the outfit. Think fit-and-flare dresses, sheath dresses, bootcut jeans, straight legs, fitted tops, tie-front tops, peplum tops, pencil skirts, fluted skirts, tailored trousers, structured jackets, belted jackets and dusters, belted trench coats, and structured gilets. Or 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.
9. Flats & Low Heels
Gone are the days when heels were the only way to elevate your style. In fact, it’s trendy to wear fashion sneakers with just about any outfit these days. Supportive flats, low heels up to two inches, stable block heels, soft footbed sandals like Birkenstocks, slides, mules, loafers, oxfords, sandal booties, and shoes with straps that stay on your feet like Mary Janes and ankle strap footwear — 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 or very low heels for the office or an event. My party shoes have one and a half inch heels.
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.
Take the PERSONAL in personal style to heart. You have the power to pick and choose from the trend buffet, and sport it your way.