What’s realistic, what’s ridiculous, and what might already be lurking in your wardrobe?
Remember the OTT era of supermodels back in the ‘80s and ‘90s? It was a sumptuous, glorious time when the likes of Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell were draped in fabrics that would not be out of place on a Buckingham Palace sofa.
there’s no reason why finding a few things to wear should be a depressing, dispiriting experience
But now we’re in more austere times, most of us have to get out of bed for far less than $10,000 a day, and there’s a definite pushback against cheap fast fashion.
That said, it doesn’t matter how old we are – or if we still refer to the more practical-sounding runways as the far more glamorous-sounding catwalks – there’s no reason why finding a few things to wear should be a depressing, dispiriting experience. As the late, great Cynthia Heimel wrote as she desperately wanted clothes that were attractive, flattering and maybe even fun, what’s a crone to wear?
Let go of expectations
The first step to finding true happiness when you get dressed is to empty your head of the notion of being “age-appropriate”. This is a one-way ticket to elastic-waisted beige nylon trousers. If you want to get your legs out, rock a low neckline, crop a top or eschew baggy frocks, knock yourself out.
Now we’ve got that public service announcement out of the way, let’s examine 10 trends that have emerged for the (hopefully) warmer weather ahead. For anyone remotely nostalgic for the ‘90s – think more Nirvana than Beverly Hills 90210 – this could be the season for you.
Practical, comfy and definitely worth digging them up from the back of the wardrobe, cargo pants are back, if you haven’t worn them continuously for the past 30-odd years. Apart from being roomy around the bum, the multitude of generous, secure pockets is definitely a selling point.
cargo pants are back, if you haven’t worn them continuously for the past 30-odd years
Cargo skirts have also made an appearance for 2023, but for anyone who ever fancied themselves as an All Saint, surely it has to be pants with a comfy trainer. The attempts in the early noughties to team satin cargo pants with stilettos seem a bit silly in hindsight. However, this correspondent does recall a conversation circa 2001 with a friend who was agonising over wearing this combination on a date. We probably should have been using our work email accounts in a more productive manner.
What better garment to wear with your new (or rediscovered) cargo pants, or baggy jeans, than a checked shirt? Bottega Veneta sent none other than Kate Moss down the runway dressed like Kurt Cobain on the school run and, frankly, we’re here for it. The good news is that checked shirts are available at pretty much any budget. If you pick a durable fabric, you’ll own it for years and, as long as you brush your hair, you’ll probably get away with it for work.
After a few years of Mom jeans, waistlines are creeping back down again. Trinny and Susannah were always at great pains to point out that a pair of low-rise jeans is more flattering to most bottoms because there’s no giant expanse of fabric enveloping one’s cheeks like a denim duvet. That said, Alexander McQueen’s bumster jeans of 1996 set off a craze for jeans that were so low, it wasn’t just builders who were exposing their bums on the job.
The bumster debacle culminated in jeans with zips that were barely an inch long. Some people were exposing actual pubes in public. Thankfully, this season’s low rise jeans are not quite as extreme and you can probably leave the house in them without worrying about hair removal.
Lacy, lingerie-inspired looks
Flimsy, pretty, satiny, lacy, see-through things appeared across multiple runways – Valentino, Prada, Chanel, Versace, and Emilia Wickstead were all at it. At the fashion shows, this trend was basically a way for models to appear naked in public without getting arrested. For the rest of us, this trend will make its way to the high street with sheer blouses and floaty dresses of semi-sheer fabric or with sheer inserts, allowing for nipple-covering underwear.
Satin tops and dresses with shoestring straps will make an inevitable reappearance – it’s another ‘90s throwback for those who prefer to look more like Courtney than Kurt, although there is always the risk that you will simply look like you’ve left the house in nightie, so approach with caution.
Conventional fashion wisdom says that in tough economic times, hemlines go up, while in times of plenty, hemlines go down. So, it’s hard to know what to make of this season’s asymmetric skirts and dresses. Does having a bet each way with a hem length indicate ongoing economic uncertainty? Is it a nod to climate change and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns that make us unsure whether to cover up or expose our flesh on any given day? Or is it just something that looks a bit interesting and allows a flash of leg that is more subtle than a micro-mini?
Whatever the case, there will be a range of unevenly hemmed skirts out there, from the more office-friendly longer looks to shorter cuts that will doubtless appear by pools at all-inclusives across Europe this summer.
Silvery fabrics are set to appear on everything from futuristic puffa jackets to Greek goddess-inspired draped dresses. You’ll be able to spend a fortune on shimmery, shiny things with the likes of Loewe or spend a bit less at shops such as H&M – it all depends on your budget and your views on fast fashion.
It is important to note that sequins are not the most sustainable addition to a garment, so look out for brands that use sequins made from recycled plastics. There are biodegradable plant-based sequins available online that can be sewn onto clothes, if you’re feeling creative and fancy a quick-fix to brighten up some boring clothes.
Baggy floral frocks have been a mainstay of the likes of John Lewis and M&S for a while now. Personally, I hold Carrie Johnson personally responsible for making it difficult to find subtly printed dresses with an actual waist, but the tide may be turning. John Lewis caused a minor outrage when it announced they were no longer going to sell floral midi-dresses, with Evening Standard columnist Melanie McDonagh declaring the retailer had “gone mad”. She need not panic. Such frocks will still be available, just not at John Lewis.
However, plenty of designers have moved away from the floral midis. The new season’s trend is about big, bold floral prints, dramatic dark backgrounds and more structured cuts. While some people will still seek out the baggy floral midi – and, to be fair, they are excellent when eating a large meal – Carolina Herrera, Dior, Dries van Noten and Prada will do their best to convince you to move on.
Like sequins, you tread a fine line between fashion and fancy dress with fringing. While there has definitely been a whiff of ‘90s nostalgia this year, fringing transports you squarely back to the ‘70s. And if you’ve been watching Daisy Jones and the Six, a desire to rock the looks of this very underrated decade for style is completely understandable. The party scenes showcase the minimalist long dresses that Halston popularised, along with some of the more flamboyant looks, such as fringing sprouting all over the place.
For this season, Jil Sander sent a model down the runway in a rather unsettling lemon yellow poodle of a frock, while Victoria Beckham thought it would be amusing to get a model to carry a bright green fringed bag that looks a bit like it got lost on the set of Fraggle Rock. If you’re feeling the urge to fringe, there will be plenty of opportunities in the shops – it’s up to you how wild you want to go.
Fendi, Hermes, Valentino, Paco Rabanne, the usual suspects are jumping on board with little going-out bags that are fine as long as your phone is charged and you pay for everything by card. The good news is that this season’s party bags will be easier to spot in a dark room and harder to leave behind on public transport because they are super-embellished.
this season’s party bags will be easier to spot in a dark room and harder to leave behind on public transport
Yes, laden with sparkly barnacles, you won’t want to drop these on the floor and dance around them because most dance floors are sticky and disgusting. But given that expensive handbag trends find their way to the high street in a matter of moments, you’ll likely be spoiled for choice – and they’re fun. We could all use more fun at the moment.
In The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda Priestly devastatingly cut the intern’s cheap blue jumper down to size when she informed her that the colour was, in fact, cerulean and it ended up on her back because of runway trends. This year’s blue is cobalt and it’s absolutely not the same as cerulean, which is more of a wistful sky blue.
Cobalt is a shade of blue that attracts attention and some of the biggest and best show-offs – such as McQueen and Valentino – have used it this season on brash, bold dresses. You can expect to see cobalt on accessories too, so even if McQueen’s sassy slashed gown is a bit much for you, a bag or pair of shoes might be a less confronting way to get your blue on.