Jan 072014
Dries Van Noten makes tribal interesting, wearable and contemporary
Dries Van Noten makes tribal interesting, wearable and contemporary

What started as a how-to for those wishing to look of the age without resorting to either fast or high fashion has now become a regular series.

Here in London we have yet to feel a frost, which makes it difficult to get too excited about spring clothes.  The best way forward is to go through your wardrobe sorting and rationalising, whilst having half an eye open old favourites which could come into their own next season.  Trends look best when they are tailored to and part of you.  Buying the look off the peg does not work for those of us over 21.

Reading Vogue and style.com it would appear anthing goes.  Florals, longer lengths and not heavy lace are looks that easily done.  You will know where you stand on large graphic or pop art prints on clothing.

My favourite trend is “International Georgraphic”, a contemporary, flattering take on traditional clothing throughout the world.  And there’s plenty of scope for brightness and fun too.

The twist on metallics is that they are for daywear, whereas take onsports clothes is now for the evening (didn’t this used to be clubwear?).

“Oxford come-on” appears to be complicated and not always flattering takes on a crisp white shirt/ night shirt – and the key is in the /.  Personally, I’d stick to classic white.

Pantone spring 2014Pantone have prescribed their colours for 2014, which is what the designers and shops will be working with.  “Radiant orchid” has been heavily publicised (the mauve-ish one), although the grey, orange and pinky red may be easier to wear, and work better with other neutral garments.  Read the full list.

Another approach would be to check out style icons.  Edie Campbell is influential, but the Queen of contemporary aesthetic is without doubt, Alexa Cheung.  If you struggle with this as much as I do, she has unashamedly lifted the looks of Jane Birkin and Françoise Hardy, so take the back bearings and seek age appropriate inspiration from the quintessentially chic.

Jan 072013

Now before I launch in, please note that this has virtually nothing to do with style, which I will address later.  It is intended as a “how to” for those who have the urge to be fashionable, or who regard this subject with the same anthropological fascination as myself.

Over the last few years, it has been drummed into us that fashion moves fast and the only way to keep up is to literally buy into it, using your precious leisure time to pound pavements, peruse products and purchase as led by store layouts, product placements and paparazzi photos.  We are led to believe that to be fashionable you must be blessed with a connection to the zeitgeist and have the artistic sensibilities of Ms Chanel herself.  This really is not the case.

Now information has been democratized, us mere mortals can see the journalists, trend setters and stylists sources.  You know how every season has fashionable colours? Well, this is not something that magically happens.  A couple of years in advance forecasters work out which colours will be in.  These are then circulated at trade shows and via trend reports.  Cloth is woven and put on standby, waiting for the catwalk shows (which happen about 6 months in advance of the season) to reveal the trends.  Buyers and designers then spring into action, getting the clothes made that end up in the shops, allowing the consumers to buy into the “latest fashions” as the season commences.

As each season (in retail terms) now lasts about 6 weeks, many brands and designers struggle to come up with original ideas.  This means that names of previous colours and trends are changed and you are very likely to have a fashionable piece already in your wardrobe, you just need the right information to identify it.  And remember, healthy and confident are two looks which are flattering, free and for all.

Pantone colour bridge.  Each colour has a reference so artists, architects and designers can ensure accuracy.

Pantone colour bridge. Each colour has a reference so artists, architects and designers can ensure accuracy.

Now for action…

1. Check out the Pantone colour forecast.  Published alongside input from designers, celebrity manicurists etc, this shows what colours are in at every price point.

2. Look at the trend reports on style.com

3. View the fashion shows of designers you like.  These are available at least 6 months in advance.

4. Look at movie releases and popular culture.  A spaghetti western by Tarantino or extravaganza’s such as Baz Luhrmann’s Gatsby will influence fashion.

5. Reference young people.  The designers and stylists spend ages trying to discern what’s hot with youth, and work out how to sell it on.  Decide which tribe your 15 year old self would have belonged to, and check out their blogs etc.  My young self would totally be into Rookie. (Ahem)


Autumn 2013 deductions

So, now I’ve absorbed the info (especially 2. above), the following looks will emerge from the wardrobe. Alright, it’s not going to be F-A-S-H-I-O-N, but it will be fun, contempory and free.

– Punk.  An anarchic look with rules?  I’ll be taking the wool checks and open tights on board as Autumn staples, and getting Sexy Hooligans to print images on threadbare favourites.
– Pastel coats.  Not for me or my bicycle.
– Mens coats.  Better.  Not acctually men’s coats, but oversized classics.  In abundance at a charity shop near you.
– Crazy fur.  Too many memories of 1990s raves.
– Menswear fabrics.  My variously scaled b/w houndstooth checked items can be worn together.  And I’ll be reaching for the tweed too.
– Mid- century AKA 1950s/ New Look.  Covers most  vintage favourites, whether fit and flare or pencil.

– Colours are SO much better than this summer was.  I’ll be going for turbulence (grey) and carafe (brown) which both go splendidly with recent koi (orange) sales purchases.

Even having rejected some colours and trends, I can still see a way to bring out a few neglected treasures from the wardrobe, and put together a very contemorary look.  And the whole exercise has taken less time than the bus to the High Street does!