Saturday, August 22, 2015

Are These Trends for You? Autumn/Winter 2015

Two people sent me this list, from a well-known magazine, asking if I thought that the items included on this list were things that they should consider buying.

Oh, me and trends.... it's a conflicted relationship...

On the one hand, I don't think we should EVER let ourselves be dictated to in terms of what we buy. Unless someone else is going to flat out GIVE me something, I will make my own purchasing choices. And I think there's something inherently self-defeating about chasing trends: you spend money that you probably shouldn't waste on things that are, by definition, going to be obsolete in a short period of time.

That said, I think that unless you're a very famous poet, you should try to look as if you're somewhat in touch with current appearance standards. If you're 6 feet tall, and a poet or other artist, you are free to rock the turban with veil to your heart's content!


Dame Edith Sitwell, photograph by Cecil Beaton

Frankly, some of the things included on this list aren't particularly trendy...

Defining just exactly WHAT a trapeze bag IS can be difficult - Google the word, and bags of all kinds of shapes come up! But I think most people are thinking of the bags on which the end panels "stick out" like wings... To my eye, it just looks kind of like an over-stuffed bag!

But there's nothing about these bags that will scream LOSER if you carry it for more than one year. If you have a serious "coup de coeur" for one of them, you can be comfortable knowing that you'll be able to use it for a few years. Plus, they're available at all price ranges, so you don't have to drop the mortgage payment on a handbag. 

Mushroom suede – BCBGeneration; black and white – Kenneth Cole Reaction;
Navy and indigo – Charles Jourdan; black - Fendi

Um.... HELLO? This is not a trend... metal trim and accents have been on shoes for hundreds of years. If you find a pair of these that has an irresistible call, live it up, because these pretty much CAN'T go out of style.

Taupe flats – Calvin Klein; black & gold ankle strap flats – Chloe
green suede – Summit; pumps with crystal heels – Kate Spade New York
pink flats – Nicholas Kirkwood; boots – Sam Edelman

Same with a "column" dress, better thought of as a dress without a defined waist. I wore these when I was a wee princess, in the early '60's, and my mother wore them too. If they're going through a resurgence, that's wonderful; these are great dresses for those of us without a defined waistline, or a high waist. This cut is a great one to show off beautiful fabric or textural details. You'll want to tread carefully with necklaces hanging down onto material which should be the focal point. Nice earrings are perfect here.

Navy and black silk – 3.1 Phillip Lim; lace – J. Crew;
Grey cotton/wool – Maison Margiela; printed – Diane von Furstenberg

This one was so funny to research - the definition of peplum seems to be confusing... A ruffle around the bottom of a skirt is NOT a peplum. A ruffle on the hem of a dress isn't a peplum either, thank you.

A peplum is an additional panel of fabric (somewhat like a ruffle, and it could be shirred like a ruffle) sewn onto the hemline of a top, attaching at the waistline and flaring out below. It's a great style for those of us who don't like to tuck our tops in, and for those of us who like to find ways to create the illusion of a waist that narrows. If you fall into those categories, or if you just plain like these styles, grab one. When these vanish from stores, they're gone, so buy, wear, and enjoy now.

But a serious word of warning - make certain that the fabric is soft and somewhat drapey, rather than crisp and rigid. Nothing looks quite as odd as a stiff little "board" of fabric sticking out around your middle.


Navy sleeveless top – Elizabeth and James; white top – Max Mara;
black embellished top – River Island; white shirt - Thakoon

Here's another item that didn't feel at ALL like a trend to me. I think of a cocoon coat as one that falls around mid-thigh, often doesn't have a traditional collar, and is (usually) tapered toward the hem, with lots of room in the torso and underarms.

If you wear pants a lot, and bulky sweaters, this coat is a dream come true - lots of room for your sweaters to layer under these beauties, but not so long that your legs are encumbered. If you fear appearing top-heavy, purchase with care, and look for a touch of princess seaming (like the taupe wonder below) or a slightly longer length and strong vertical line (like the beautiful purple coat). Some designers tend to use this coat style often - Isabel Marant and Max Mara both seem to have these every year.

Yes, the taupe coat reverses to pink parachute fabric...


Taupe mohair Emporio Armani; plaid – Etoile Isabel Marant;
Moss – Max Mara; purple – Max Mara

The bottom line of these items? The only one that felt really "short-term" to me was the peplum tops. I think one could easily ignore all of these suggestions and dress as one prefers without any fears of appears out of date, or out of touch.

I'd really rather see what YOU like, rather than seeing you being obedient to total strangers who only want to sell you something...

Diana Vreeland didn't follow trends, she started them...



love,
Janice


Farfetch UK

30 comments:

  1. I'm confused now. What's the difference between a column dress and a shift dress?

    For me, these trends are useful mostly to learn the name of something I generally want to find or want to avoid :-) If a purchase isn't a mistake for me, I'll wear it for 10 years easily - I still have some tops from high school, including a sweater that gets compliments every single time I wear it.
    - Kaci

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    1. I've always considered a shift dress the type that is more fitted, but not tight-- it follows the shape of the body, curving in at the waist and back out at the hips, then straight down or tapered in to the hem.

      In contrast, a column dress hangs straight down from the bustline.

      A shift dress has a lot of curved seams; a column dress has straighter seams.

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    2. What Bettina said!

      Thanks so much for your excellent definition; I think it will clarify the difference between the 2 styles for a lot of us.

      big hug,
      Janice

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    3. Okay, so then a fit-and-flare dress compared to a shift dress? And how is a skater dress different from fit-and-flare? This is starting to sound like maybe it's a continuum that needs math applied to it - how many degrees of curve do you want in your dress? ;-)
      - Kaci

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    4. Sorry, but Bettina just described a sheath dress. A shift dress is closer to the column, but it can have an A line to it. The lace example above is a shift dress.

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  2. I agree all of these items look fairly classic to me. As I normally keep my clothes for several years and sometimes 10 I like simple silhouettes. I would continue to wear all of the above.

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  3. I think it's hard--impossible for me--to know what trends will really update your look. It's usually not what the magazines say. For instance, leggings came in about 10 years ago--I resisted for a long time, but wear them almost every day. I bought some ponchos last year...we shall see about longevity.

    Those trapeze bags have been trendy ever since the Celine bag (dk name--has smily face) came on the scene. I didn't see very many in Europe last summer, so I think they may be on the way out. But who knows?

    I feel (this is just me) that it's important for me (age 61) to look somewhat up to date. Luckily, my daughter is very willing to help me. Sadly, she's been mostly out of the country for the last 2 years. She has had to endure many emailed questions from me.





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    1. P.S. What I really want is Diana Vreeland's living room! I probably could not live up to it (or even afford a yard of that fabric).

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    2. frugalscholar, I love your European observations. Share more for those of who don't get out that way often enough!

      Laughed at your daughter enduring your questions - mine, too. I have asked so many fashion questions of them, they now text me unasked from LA and London: photos of shoe and accessory trends, their own outfits, or seen-on-the-street looks.

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  4. Trends provide opportunity of choice -- I carry a beautiful tote-shaped handbag when traveling. The structured form, large square cavity, and the wide open top make it easy to use and it will keep its shape whether empty or full: perfect for airports where I carry a lot, shopping where I take just a wallet but want room for more, or going out dressed up where I might want ballet slippers or a light sweater for later in the evening. The trapeze bag trend means I'm seeing many, many options that fit my long term needs and I could pick up a bag knowing I will use it for years (decades perhaps). Or I might just choose a cheap one in a fun colour to fill out my current accent colour accessory bundle knowing it is a short term piece...trendy = options!

    My midweight black coordinates with my luggage and the shoes I wear when city-traveling, and for daily use. (I use a messenger style neutral bag for the same purposes when adventure-traveling or with active wear.). While the trend is here this time, I will keep my radar up for a cheerful but understated colour that works for daily use, and travels with me for casual travel - errands and blue jeans, family trips, and that sort of thing. It must be beautiful and strong but look quiet and gentle so I that can carry it in any weather. Ideally, it would look 'light' enough to use for travel in milder climes where it might have to swing from museum hopping chic to beach bag utilitarian. Chloe has a dusty-ish blue colour this year that spans navy and many shades of blues and greys including denims beautifully. Or, the current trends of cognac (from luggage tan to deep warm brown) and cordovan (from pale burgundy to deep merlot) come in so many shades, that by choosing carefully one could easily find a bag that lasts for decades based on their personal neutrals -- even while planning for the softening that comes with eventually greying hair, etc! ha ha

    The best part of trend shopping is that I can look forward to a style going 'out of trend' in a year or two... and that means clearance prices at retail and/or a glut on the consignment circuit. Hooray! If I am patient, I will be able to upgrade considerably in quality without upgrading my budget! Win win. Right now, it means I am seeing lots of excellent quality fitted sheath dresses on the secondary market, knowing that is the style for me and I can fill out my core wardrobe and ignore the column dress trend. Those who look good in this style can invest in a long term piece, OR enjoy the vast selection currently available to try on many so as to better define their needs, and then wait for the downmarket to purchase, OR take advantage of the trend at every price point to find one in an accent colour that might not warrant an investment price or a long range effort, OR to find one in a luxury or quirky fabric to begin or fill in a special occasion/holiday mini-capsule. Column dresses are always in style for semi-formal event dressing where clothing tends to focus on fabric OR jewelry OR shape/skin. Knowing which you are makes your own choices timeless FOR YOU.

    As for the peplum trend, I have a St John knit peplum sleeveless top that fits so well and is so flattering that it goes with everything, layers perfectly, and works as my permanent dark T shirt in Whatever's Clean - summer or winter. I may look for something similar in a pale neutral this time around, knowing sleeveless peplum knit is great on me but only available when the trend cycles around, which isn't often. Keys: a subtle peplum that gently accentuates my shape but is not extreme -- no long tails, no clingy or stiff fabrics, and with tiny bits of gather at the set in seam, if any, NO ruffle butt effect.

    Whew! Trendiness vs timelessness vs defined personal style (despite trend OR timeless labels) is my favorite fashion topic.

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    1. For a nice-looking travel bag I like the Baggalini A La Carte bag. The deep front pockets are great for water bottles or umbrellas. It has a great pocket on the bag that you can either use as a pocket or unzip the bottom zipper to slip it over rolling luggage. I use it for work quite a bit as well. It holds a small cross-body bag as well as a lot of other odds and ends.

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    2. Sharing the love for Baggelini bags, which are washable, come in luscious colours, have some style, and are lightweight. (I envy those who can still sling a big leather tote without shoulder pain.) Another terrific brand is Highway.

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    3. Thank you for the recommendations. I will definitely check them out

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    4. I find them a little pricey, but sometimes you can find them on some of the discount sites like Overstock.com, etc. I think eBags is currently having a sale. I've found some at TJMaxx/Marshall's as well.

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  5. Be sympathetic... Magazine writers have to fill pages so magazine editors can sell advertising...I gave up when magazines were suggesting hot pants (remember them?) for the office...And so I read blogs...which are in tune with actual lives.

    The most important thing I've noticed is the silhouette. Dame Edith Sitwell (above) has a silhouette with clean lines. Diana Vreeland (also above) seems to be channeling the silhouette of the last Chinese Empress, definitely a grande dame.

    Silhouettes do come and go out of fashion. In recent times, think how skinny jeans changed the proportion of what people wear.

    So. I think it is important to keep up with changes in silhouette. If you look around the street, older ladies have longer jackets, baggier pants and a different silhouette from younger people. In fact it is fun to walk in a mall and pick people's ages from the proportions of their clothes.

    Of course younger people will always have tighter, closer fitting clothes but current silhouettes can be adapted for most shapes. So I think to avoid looking dated and to look reasonably au fait with the times you should pay attention to current proportions and the line of your clothes. This doesn't change too often - say every five years.

    Kate

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  6. I didn't see anything here that I'd call particularly trendy. Most of them seem classic enough to last multiple seasons.

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  7. Your blog is always better than any magazine Janice. I love the way you write and I always learn something new about wardrobe styling from your posts. Thank you.

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  8. Interesting that several of these styles, such as the peplum, have been around for several seasons now, but are promoted as 2015 autumn trends. Guess it'll be around longer than I thought!

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  9. if I didn't already want to be a six-foot-tall famous poetess, I would now. That turban ... too fabulous. Have you read the Lucia books by E. F. Benson? If you like the wonderfully pretentious, you will like Lucia. Some of the books are loosely based on Gaskell's Cranford, in which Miss Maddie needs a turban intervention.

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    1. Love the Lucia books! Someday I hope to visit Rye and see Miss Mapp's (and Benson's) house. (And Henry James lived there for a while, too.)

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  10. I have a tote that looks like a "trapeze" bag -- wider at the top than at the bottom. It's impossible to sit with it on our very cozy L seats without jabbing myself and the person next to me. If you commute in Chicago, I'd avoid this trend.

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    1. Good point--I live out in the countryside, so keeping in mind the smaller personal spaces in the city is not always firstmost in my mind. A bag is only as good as its usefulness across the situations I will encounter in my real life... And jabbing people sitting next to me is definitely not my goal, in town or country!

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  11. Great post, Janice. Trends are the economy's way of influencing us to consume. Once we break free of the hype and attendant belief that to not have "the latest thing" is somehow wrong, we can choose what pleases. But the paradox is that some clothing and accessories eventually look dated, and the "if you keep it long enough everything comes back in style" axiom rarely works out that well.

    Last summer, it seemed every young woman in my city was wearing a high-low skirt; this summer I have not seen one.

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    1. Words of wisdom as always, Duchesse. Agree about the high-lows--a trend thankfully short-lived.

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  12. Thank you for putting these "trends" into perspective. These are quite workable for multiple seasons of wear.

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  13. Thanks for your post. I keep hoping that skinny jeans are a trend that will soon go away. They are the reason I only wear skirts and dresses. Can't find jeans or even pants that fit. This is a hard choice for a tomboy.

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  14. I've had a charcoal gray trapeze bag for about 5 years. I didn't know it was a trapeze! It's just a pretty bag, to me. I like that shape, if it's not overdone. It's simple, with clean lines.

    The peplum is a great shape for certain body types (like mine - rectangular). I like having that option in tops and dresses. But it's not going to flatter everyone.

    I enjoyed this blogpost!

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  15. Many thanks for cutting all that trend issue down to the quick. Great help.
    One of my issues though is what to layer over the peplum tops. Let's say any of the white examples. How would I dress this for a business environment? What sort of jacket/cardigan? I think always I would need an oversized jacket, long enough to cover the peplum. That sort of jacket then drowns me. Help!

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  16. My own "Oh it's just going to be short-lived" theory led me to be about 15 years behind everyone else in buying a cropped denim jacket. Fortunately they still hang on in style. I may even need another, one day ...
    Thanks for your sagacity and wit, dear Janice!

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