Fashion is a fickle world. If you followed the trends slavishly you'd dump your whole wardrobe twice a year and replace your clothes according to the latest trends. The savvy fashionista however, will know that fashion is cyclical, with trends coming around in 2-15 year cycles. Obviously the fashion world are selling clothes, and their job is to come up with must-have shapes, styles and colours, which are picked up by the magazines, and presented to us as "essential wardrobe items". So what is one to do?
The answer is not to ignore the trends and keep wearing what you wore 5 years ago, nor to bin items that have been deemed "past-it", but to nod to the trends while sticking to your personal style.
Here's a brief list of some trends for Autumn/Winter 2011:
Snakeskin (not leopard)
Pencil skirt (not maxi)
Groomed looks (not boho)
Coocoon shapes (not form-fitting)
1940s style suits and hats
Tweed shift dresses
Sequinned Rockstar trousers
Pointed court shoes
Chunky Aran sweaters
The list is really endless. You'll see the trends are contradictory, as some designers are favouring volume, others form-fitting etc. We are being presented with a dizzying array of trends, and it's up to you to decide which to adopt and which to ignore, and which to foster for a while. It's better this way, that there's such choice, or else everyone would step out in the morning looking like clones, but for the under-confident it could be confusing.
My attitude is to keep my principles of dressing the same as always, beginning with my body shape. I know that I have a neat waist, small bust, narrow hips and big bum, so I'll always wear a form-fitted look. If I wear a tunic dress that falls straight past my curves I look much bigger than I am. So cocooning styles are not an option. I have good legs, so I'll never wear a maxi skirt, as it'll fall wide from my bum and make me look heavy. Ditto for pleated skirts or trousers. My upper arms are not fantastic, so I'll usually cover them, with a 3/4 or full length sleeve, never cap or short sleeve, I'd rather go sleeveless, as the latter just emphasise the width of my upper arms. Pencil skirts are my favourite option, and I kept wearing them, even in the last few years when they were "out". They look really 50s with ballerina flats and a fitted top or fine knit cardigan, or sex them up with heels. Mini skirts are a good option for me, only in A/W though, with opaque tights or leggings, and boots to balance my thighs. My thighs are fine up to a certain point, but any shorter than that is not flattering. I'm a strawberry blonde with freckles and fair skin, so many colours are out of the question as they'll wash me out. I can wear them on my lower half though, just not against my face. I can't wear much jewellery, long earrings don't suit me, and too much gold makes me look as though I should be living in a caravan park. I look huge in any heavy knits so aran sweaters are out, and fine knit 50s cardis are in. Why am I telling you all this? I've spent years getting to know my body, making fashion mistakes with shape and colour, and have finally decided to buy only classics, with the odd inexpensive trend piece thrown in for fun.
Take snakeskin for instance. Last winter I bought a great leopard print wrap/scarf (more on scarves in a future post), like the Sprouse-Vuitton one everyone was wearing in Lala land, and now we're told leopard is out, snake is in. Just as well I hung onto those purple snakeskin courts from 6 years ago, the snakeskin print silk scarf from River Island's sale in 2006, and my grandmother's snakeskin clutch bag. Snakeskin sorted, and I didn't have to spend one cent. I'm not going to be wearing them every day, but there is a satisfaction in knowing they're in the wardrobe should I be so inclined. Having the trend covered in an accessory is much more versatile, as you can wear it even when it's not "hot" and you won't look out of date. I'm still wearing my leopard scarf this winter, I love how it "rocks up" an outfit, and looks great with all the black clothes in my winter wardrobe.
One investment I have made for the coming season is this parka (77 euro, Next) in teal. I have a fab black cashmere mix single-breasted coat, a vintage grey tweed belted coat with sheepskin collar, and numerous short "sporty" jackets and vests, all with a "puffa" look, but I needed something that was longer, warmer and could be worn over jeans or more dressy items. The parka is having a moment now, far from its Britpop connotations, it's being seen on the runway over evening dresses and floaty chiffon numbers, a la Kate Moss on a night out.
So, pick-and-mix your own style from what's available. Know your shape and what suits you, and you won't go wrong.