April 1, 2011

Chicago Manual of Style—4/1/2011

Spring is theoretically upon us. And, although it has yet to actually show itself, designers have been decking models in warm weather wear on runways and in magazines for months now. In fact, the ever-early fashion world is currently determining fall aesthetics. But before worrying over that distant future, let’s discuss the present trends.

’70s trends are now back in style, possibly for the first time. Believe it or not, bell-bottoms have been spotted in Vogue. Yes, their identity is somewhat masked by phrases like “high-waisted” with “flare,” but we all know what that means—pants that start high, go long, and go out, call them what you will. Think long, loose, and bright. Maxi dresses or skirts, wide-legged trousers instead of skinny jeans—really anything that’s comfortable and preferably makes you look 10 feet tall. You can decide to go the route of California beachwear or look to Annie Hall for a more menswear East Coast chic.

Luckily, “loose” is another watch word this season, and it’s starting to replace “short” as an alternative hot weather solution. Instead of a skin-tight bandage dress that barely ventures to mid-thigh, put on boxy, breezy dresses with dolman sleeves or skirts so long you’ll be worried about grass stains. Designers are playing with silhouettes, and their work actually looks like play. Some collections look like someone gave the designers crayons and suggested that “tortured artist” is really, really over. For example, Prada is shortening mermaid skirts and putting monkeys on everything like they’re hyperactive five-year-olds with access to sewing machines.

Horizontal stripes, especially in bold colors, are another big pattern this spring. Think less minimalist black and white and crazy kids with crayons again. Orange, chartreuse, and sapphire blue are particular color favorites, but as long as it’s not a pastel you’ll wear it right.

As further proof that the fashion world is somewhat contradictory, both lace and punk are in. And no, I do not mean a black lace that might merge the two, but white or even crocheted lace, especially if it looks vintage and is paired with something sleek. As for punk, it’s combat boots, studs, and a little funk. Neon colors, motorcycle jackets, and even safety pins have walked down the runways of Balmain and Balenciaga.

The good news is there are plenty of choices. “Romantic,” “punk,” “modern,” even “comfortable”—all these words have a place in closets this season. My main recommendation? One trend at a time. No boxy, striped, and studded monkey shirts paired with neon lace bell-bottoms, please.