A funny thing happens in fashion, which is that you are bombarded with information about new-season fashion trends without ever being told what it is you should actually wear. I can get to the end of a feature about “the new directions” and feel, if I am honest, none the wiser. OK, I should aim for Contemporary Polish or Fresh Sparkle but, um, what should I wear tomorrow?
This is not about fashion being deliberately obtuse. It is not even about fashion being accidentally obtuse by dint of Zoolanderish overuse of impressive-sounding words. (OK, OK, maybe a little bit of the latter.) It springs from good intentions: a well-intentioned recognition that fashion, these days, is as much about cult styling tricks and below-the-radar trends as it is about the new Prada catwalk. But the desire to appeal to the widest possible audience ends up miring fashion in bland, catch-all manifesto-speak that doesn’t mean anything. The phrase “modern tailoring” is to fashion’s September issues what “hard-working families” is to party conference season.
So I will do my best to get to the point. The look you are aiming for this autumn is a bit sporty, quite blunt, but a bit posh. Let’s break this down. Sportswear has dominated fashion for more than a year. But the sporty element of this season’s look is slightly different from six months ago. The perky athleisure vibe has turned less wholesome. This is the kind of sportswear that gets a cheeky McDonald’s on the way home from the pub, not the green-juice kind. It is a shiny pair of three-stripe Adidas tracksuit bottoms, or a crop top to give that demure midi-skirt a new look, or a half-zip sweatshirt under a blazer.
Next. Blunt sounds like exactly the kind of obtuse fashion directive I was bemoaning, right? It’s not a colour, or a hemline, or a print. But it is the reason why fashion types who have sworn by navy coats for the last five years are buying padded jackets and anoraks in analogue primaries. It is why trainers and flat shoes work with everything. It is why twiddly details are over and why breezily oversized is more on point than fussily fitted and why stark outlines, such as a vest dress over a polo neck, work. It is why French Girl Chic – which has existed as a kind of independent city-state within fashion for years, white jeans aloft from the flagpole – has gone for motorcycle-leather toughness this season. For all Gigi Hadid’s caramel-toned girl-next-door appeal, it is her cooler, less approachable looking sister, Bella, who you should be channelling.
Lastly, posh. This is important, because the sporty and blunt elements need glamour and attitude. Buy one thing in jersey or acrylic, one in velvet or satin. Wear enormous earrings with your padded jacket and let your tracksuit bottoms pool on the floor, with a Delevingne-like insouciance, like silk pyjamas . Oh, and buy the padded jacket now, before they sell out. Does that sound blunt? Good. This season, that’s a compliment.
From the catwalks: this season’s looks, by Lauren Cochrane
Thanks to Balenciaga, the kind of jacket that your parents made you wear for a wet walk in the Lake District is now fashionable. Preferably make it an 80s school-jacket colour combination – blue and green, perhaps. However, to make sure it isn’t mistaken for Millets, wear it the fashion way – shrugged on to frame your shoulders rather than zipped up properly.
If stars such as Taylor Swift and Alicia Vikander have been wearing velvet in the summer, it hasn’t jumped the shark yet. On the catwalk at Valentino and Haider Ackermann, the cool girls’ take is a velvet blazer. It’s smart, a bit retro in a Jimi Hendrix way and – bonus! – distinctly strokeable.
Sure, there’s Miu Miu and Gucci on the catwalk but the furry-shoes prize still goes to Rihanna and her Puma line, Fenty. Her furry sliders – complete with stamped Puma logo – are ridiculous enough to bring the lols that footwear requires this season, but also have that Rihanna-patented loungey feel. Accessorise with a glass of wine and satin robe for the full look.
Anne-France Dautheville, Chloé’s muse this season, was a photographer who travelled around the Middle East on a motorbike in the 70s. Being Parisian, however, she needed some glamour in her holdall, and that came in the blouse. Chloé’s collection, therefore, had lots of frilly blouses, and these are the kind you need this season. The only rule? The more OTT the better.
If Michelle Obama’s blue dress at the Democratic convention kept things simple, her earrings – bold and graphic – were a fashion-friendly touch. It’s all about the statement earring right now, from the cluster of diamanté on ears at Saint Laurent to the mismatched designs at Loewe. Think of your ears as tiny galleries for abstract art and you’re on the right track.
The hoodie is the signature item of Vetements – the label that leads where fashion follows. As such, there is a surfeit of hoodies this season. Cropped ones, like this from Topshop, have a Kendall Jenner show-your-stomach look but oversized works too. Just be sure to keep the hood up for alpha in-the-know touch.
Keep reading – this isn’t the trench you know. In the hands of Phoebe Philo at Celine, AW16’s trench is less the tired style cliche thrown over suits for the commute home, and more slacker. Wear open, with sandals, to really fashion things up. Turning practical things unpractical is a particular fashion talent.
Call it lampshading if you want, but wearing a short dress/T-shirt/jumper with over-the-knee boots is definitely a thing. The baggy top is crucial. As the likes of Gigi Hadid, the Kardashians and indeed North West have all proved in the past, the slouchy top is what updates this look from Shania Twain video to 2016. Take note, Fergie.
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