Every year around this time I summarize the trends I see influencing the next 6 months of fashion. I base my thinking on the Spring shows that happened the previous September, the collections coming into retail, and the fashion I see both online and offline. Today’s post is about silhouettes and themes. I will also do a separate post on colour and pattern tomorrow, and one focussing on jeans later in the week.
I don’t only focus on the shows because designers don’t dictate fashion. Despite trend forecasts, retailers will continue to focus on what’s profitable, supplying the market with the items that they think will sell the best. And thought-leading consumers will create their own trends, sometimes with big followings on social media. Designers do not have the power to control trends as much as we do collectively as consumers.
Generally, designers are designing more closely to our needs these days. Most brands are manufacturing more sustainably and ethically. In terms of being accepting, representative, and welcoming of all people, the fashion industry has a long way to go. But it is more diverse than it used to be.
There are no rules, and no one way to look stylish. You don’t need to fit into a particular box to look and feel fabulous. Trends are no longer seasonal and fads no longer exist. The idea of a dated wardrobe item is in itself a dated concept, because every silhouette and proportional mix can look stylish if it is worn with conviction, confidence, ease, and is a good fit. Classics and iconic items continue to have their fashion moment which encourages us to remix the old with the new, and to hold onto items for longer. The more creative we are at remixing what we have with new additions, the higher the longevity factor of our wardrobe items and the less bored we are with our styles. This makes our wardrobes more sustainable over time. A GOOD thing!
You’ll find most of the trends familiar and very little that is new. The fabrics, some of the fits and design details, and the way we combine items is where most of the newness comes in. What might feel fresh for your style is a look or item you’ve worn before, and feel like wearing again. Casual and practical comfort is key, and so much of today’s fashion complies to that requirement. The juxtaposition of remixing casual with dressy pieces continues to make one of the strongest statements in today’s fashion.
‘90s, ‘80s, ‘70s and even some ‘60s
You’ll see a strong flashback to the ’90s, and to the late ‘90s in particular (known as Y2K fashion). But since the early ‘90s were a meaningful nod to the ’80s, and the mid ‘90s had lots of ‘70s appeal, I see it as more of a flashback to three decades instead of one. You’ll also see some ‘60s looks come through.
Fits are roomier across most wardrobe items. Tailored fits are more fluid than the norm. Although most items have more volume, they are tailored in all the right places. Body-con takes a backseat unless you’re wearing a tube skirt, bandage dress, leggings, or a tight knitted top with a voluminous bottom.
Tailoring and Slouch
The wonderful mix of waist-defining tailored silhouettes AND unstructured waist-surrendering silhouettes continues. Strict tailoring, subtle fluidity, roomy fluidity, and oversized slouch is equally fabulous. Showcase the contour of your body with structure, and/or drape it in some or a lot of volume.
Low, Mid and High Rises
True to late ‘90s fashion, low rises are coming through, but are not mainstream. They are achieved by wearing bottoms with low rises, or by wearing slouchy higher rises with waistbands that rest on the hip bone. High and very high rises are strong, but mid rises are once again gaining momentum. This might be the first time that ANY length of rise is ontrend.
Bottoms are a little or a lot LOOSER from hip to hem than skinnies. Hems are tapered or flared. Think bootcuts, wide legs, wide crops, cropped flares, cigarette pants, relaxed straights, palazzos, balloon and barrel legs, carrot legs, lantern pants, joggers, and cuffed hems. Flat fronts are as popular as pleated fronts.
Full-Length and Cropped Pants
Full-length pants are as on-trend as cropped pants. Full-lengths are either very long, and skim or sweep the surface of the ground, or they’re at the new and more practical shorter full length that showcases more of your shoe. Cropped pants are cropped anywhere from two to six inches above the ankle bone. Sometimes they are cropped an inch above the ankle bone.
Pants and Shorts Suiting
Wear a dressier suit in any colour or pattern in a loosely tailored or fluid fit with a tee, shirt, blouse, sweater, knitted top, sneakers, hi-tops, boots, loafers, and crossbody bag or backpack. The pants can be full-length, cropped, or shorts. This is not meant to be an occasion dressing thing. Just wear the suit like you would any pair of bottoms and jacket — only they match! — and get on with your day.
Big Long Jackets
The ‘80s and ‘90s oversized jacket is mainstream. Blazer lengths cover the bottom and hips, and extend onto the thighs. Styles are single and double-breasted, and can be left unfastened. Scrunch or roll the sleeves for structure. A turned-back contrast lining on the sleeve is a nice touch. You can cinch them at the waist with a belt too.
With bigger bottoms and higher rises, it makes sense that shorter tops are being sold right beside them. Some are fitted and oversized, but most are fluid. Hip length, longer tops, and tunics are there for those who prefer them. Longer tops can be worn untucked, partially tucked, or fully tucked.
Columns of Colour
Wear ANY solid neutral or non-neutral from head to toe in dressy or casual combinations. This means as a top and bottom, a cardigan and bottom, or jacket and bottom. The bottoms can be trousers, skirts or shorts. A dress with a jacket or cardigan in the same colour is another option.
Outfit matching is big. Think solid and patterned twinsets, two-piece dresses, two-piece sweater dresses, two-piece jumpsuits, pant and skirt suits, all sorts of accessory complements, jewellery sets, knitted top and bottoms sets, handbag, belt and shoe sets, blouse and scarf sets, and sock and top sets.
Minis, Midis and Maxis
Hemlines vary greatly. Midi and maxi dresses and skirts continue to reign supreme, but above the knee and mini skirts are coming through too. Most of the silhouettes are A-line, pleated, tiered, wrap, and flared in some way for ease of movement. Straight, pencil and form-fitting skirts and dresses are few and far between because it’s all about flow, fluidity, and movement.
Sweaters with colour-blocked or striped V-necks in pullover and cardigan silhouettes are a fringe trend. Think tennis and cricket sweaters in tailored and oversized silhouettes. Some are cabled and cropped in length. Polo shirts, rugby shirts, striped grosgrain belts, loafers, baseball caps, and argyle vests are there too.
Sharp Shoulders and Puffy Sleeves
Puffy sleeves and elegantly billowing lantern sleeves continue to be strong on tops. Puffy sleeves that are gathered on the crown and tapered at the wrist are completely mainstream. ‘80s sharp shoulders are there, but I’m not sure this will ever be mainstream again.
It’s very trendy — and practical — to style dressy items in a relaxed way. The Sporty Luxe trend, which remixes a whole lot of formal and refined luxe with sporty accents, is alive and well. Wear dressy dresses and skirts with denim jackets, moto jackets, fashion sneakers, and stompy boots. Combine dressy sparkle with a baseball cap and sweatshirt. Combine a hoodie with pearls and a blazer. Wear dressy trousers with a sweatshirt. Wear a lace top with a sporty Nike skirt. Combine a slogan tee with a dressy jacket. Wear a tailored coat or jacket over leggings, track pants or joggers, and throw a glitzy chain-strap bag over a slouchy pullover.
We’re talking about simple modern classic shirts in solids and patterns in fluid fits, a cropped version of them, AND a much more bold shirt that makes a statement in terms of silhouette and volume. Think mullet shirts, tunic shirts with dramatic puffed and smocked sleeves, architectural shirts, wrap shirts, front frill point shirts, pirate shirts and poet shirts. And remember how great it is to layer with a white shirt.
Think utility jackets, parkas, anoraks, trench coats, carpenter shirts, shirt dresses, cargo skirts, cargo pants and cargo shorts in shades of tan, olive, khaki, brown, brights, pastels, and denim with utility detailing like drawstrings, tie belts, oversized pockets, topstitching, carpenter loops, canvas belts, and tortoiseshell trim. Finish off the look with brown leather and earthy accents, or remix them with romantic bohemian items for a Utility Pretty vibe.
Ruching and Draping
Remember how much ruching there was in the ‘80s and ‘90s. It’s back, especially down the fronts of tops and dresses, and on the sides of skirts. You’ll find it going up blouse and shirt sleeves too. It tends to affect structure and interest to a garment in a good way. If you bat for Team Draped Top, there will be many of those too.
Cut-outs on the waist and midsection of dresses and skirts are an eye-catching and slightly risqué fringe trend. Cut-outs on high necklines and on the sleeves of tops are mainstream, less risqué and easier to wear without feeling self-conscious. These types of design details can be an interesting way to showcase skin if that’s your thing.
Crochet tops, dresses, skirts, embellishments, accents, bags, hats, scarves, swimwear, swimsuit cover-ups, earrings, and shoes are coming through à la ‘70s, and are a fringe trend. If you crochet, you can make the look yourself.
White pearl ANYTHING is having its mega moment. You’ll see a lot of classic, modern, avant-garde and quirky pearl jewellery. Pearl embellishments are big on clothing, accessories and hair accessories too. Pearl-esque finishes on clutches and nails are there, as are pearl buttons. Pearls can be real or costume jewellery.
’90s Footwear and Handbags
Lug soles, wedges, platforms, mules, slides, clogs, loafers, Mary Janes, and flatforms are strong. A lot of this footwear has a ‘90s and ‘70s vibe, and is chunky, although more refined versions are available. Back in the ‘90s, lug-soled footwear was heavy and black. These days, lug soles can be as light as a feather and bright white.
There is a wide variety of square-toe footwear. Toe boxes range from very square and chunky shapes, to more refined, with less square snip toes or round square toes. Snip-toe styles are pointy toe boxes where the tips have been ‘snipped off’ to create a square shape.
Cast your mind back to the bags you sported in the ‘90s, and they are the ones that are on-trend for now. Think baguette, bucket and barrel bags, nylon backpacks, belt bags, and hobos.
And last but not least, sneakers, sneakers, SNEAKERS. This is the shoe of our fashion era in fashion, athletic and hybrid versions. Wear them in any colour, and with anything. These days they will take you almost anywhere.
I love the trends, and have most of them well covered in a version that works for my style. I will only say no thank you to mini skirts and dresses, and oversized jackets. I haven’t yet met a long blazer that I like, but I’m keeping an open mind.
As you browse the trends, remember to do your own thing, wear what makes you happy, and wear what works. Which of these vibes and silhouettes are you feeling for Spring and Summer?