At last we’re heading into my favourite time of year – Spring – and it’s time to look at what’s going on in the dizzy world of fashion. But actually I’m not going to do a full blown analysis of the trends for SS19. Why? Because for the first time in 26 years of absorbing trends and then trying to reiterate them in a way that’s accessible, I’ve thrown my hands in the air. It isn’t that I can’t do it, just that I think there’s far less foundation for them than usual and as for trying to apply them to everyday life – well here’s a picture to give you an idea…
[Image source Vogue]
I usually examine the macro and micro events that the creatives behind the collections have responded to and find a narrative but this time I’ve come to the conclusion that they can only be reflecting the general level of global fracture. To be sure, I asked some of the industry gurus I know and they agreed that it’s an odd season. The best explanation any of them came up with is that “it’s a reaction to #MeToo – women want choice and so designers are giving it to them.” I smiled. So, instead of looking at each trend in detail, I’m going to look at the elements we can extract from them – 5 easy ways to update your wardrobe – SS19.
Why should we take notice of trends at all?
That’s a valid question. We’re intelligent women who, by now, pretty much know what suits us. However in my opinion, knowing and referencing what’s on trend is another way of being up with current affairs. It’s like reading a good selection of newspapers on a Sunday to keep your finger on the pulse. Fashion is context. I’m not for one moment suggesting that we should go all out and change our entire wardrobe every season though – it’s much easier to have just one thing that references trend. It may be something as subtle as your earrings but it’s the small detail that says ‘I know.’
Rules are learnt in order to be broken but if you don’t know them, then something is missing (Nicolas Roeg)
I spend a lot of time watching other women and the way that they choose to present themselves to the world – not judging, just observing. A little twist in an outfit tells me how a woman feels about herself and whether she still has sparkle. It doesn’t have to be an on trend twist, just a stamp of individuality, but a reference to trend is a way of nodding to the social currency of fashion that unites so many of us. So, let’s have a look at the key changes that are blowing in with Spring.
5 easy ways to update your wardrobe – SS19
1. New shoes
Shoes are always the easiest way to update your look – plus of course we love them because shoes don’t care what dress size we are. This isn’t a shopping post because a lot of new season still hasn’t dropped but I’ve tried to pick low cost illustrations of the styles that I’m talking about in case you’re keen to get going.
Trainers are now mainstream and certainly in any city you now see stylish women of all ages wearing them. In fact as our daughters’ generation begins to enter the fashion business, I wonder if high heels will ever rise again – the girls I know just don’t see the point in wearing uncomfortable shoes. I’m ignoring the many high heat ‘dad trainers’ that are around and focusing on the chic, box-fresh look. I’ve already mentioned these but since I bought mine, I’ve been to both Manchester and London and seen lots of chic women wearing them which has reaffirmed that they were a good choice.
A couple of people got in touch to ask my opinion of Veja trainers which you see a lot on Instagram and I agree that because of their ubiquity, they were my first thought too. However after trying them on and comparing them with the Adidas ones I found that they were uncomfortable which, for me, defied the point of wearing trainers in the first place. The advantage of wearing a sports brand is that they integrate some of their footbed technology into the sole (plus of course you’ll make your teens gasp with surprise and approval!).
So, to recap:
Continentals (lots of colours and trims available)
However, if you’re not worried about comfort, Veja is the Instagrammers’ choice
Veja V-10s (other colour options available)
Mules, slingbacks and Mary-Janes are the key styles. Obviously mules are hard work because you have to grip with your toes to keep them on. Slingbacks have the same leg lengthening effect but are a little easier to walk in. The trend across the board for heels is low and the key shapes are kitten heels or sculptural, statement details. Keep an eye open for ‘Paris heels’ too (see further down) which can be slightly easier to walk in than kittens.
Unless you want to buy a lot of new shoes, it’s always a good idea to go for a neutral that will work with everything. You’ve seen my choice:
Here’s an alternative with a statement heel detail. Note the halfway house between mule and Mary-Jane, making them more practical too… and of course the squared detail at the toe is key.
These are good because the diamanté strap can be detached so you have the option of a day or night shoe (also available in black suede).
Here’s a pair with the toe-capping that we talked about in the M&S post, here it’s just a detail rather than a point of contrast. They have a slight Parisian heel which is where the heel flares out at the bottom, it’s very elegant and it gives more stability. They’ve been made with sustainable leather practices too.
So you get the idea, slingbacks are great because they work with everything from a wafty midi to a pair of relaxed jeans. Let’s move on to sandals.
Now the main trend here is for ‘barely there’ sandals – it’s all part of the throwback to the 90s (I know it feels like yesterday and yet next season, I hate to tell you, the noughties revival is beginning!). I remember having a black pair of these when I worked at Selfridges and they used to really cut into my toes so buy carefully.
Two trends in one here with barely there and a statement heel
A flat pair now – silver by the way is the key metallic this year.
Three trends in one with barely there, a square toe and snake
And going in a completely different direction, I have to mention the sleeper trend for Saltwater sandals, particularly popular amongst midlifers. Personally I can’t stand them, they remind me of everything my mum used to make me wear when I reached the age where I wanted to choose for myself. However lots of my friends sport them with glee (along with Birkenstocks) knowing just how I feel about them… and, with a Cath Kidston type of ‘vintage/pretty’ aesthetic or a ‘gamine/sporty’ look, I have to admit they work.
So, the key things to look out for if you’re updating your footwear for summer are: kitten heels, statement heels, snake print, slingbacks, contrast toe-capping (on shoes), squared details.
2. Adapt to new colours and textures
This is where I sigh. Instead of summer’s usual brights, the dominant palette features spice colours and beige. Personally I like spice colours for autumn but not for summer however visualise browns going through to tobacco and sand, contrasted with spicy reds. Tonal beige outfits are what you’ll see on street-stylers. When you’re over 40 it can either look very chic or a bit Hyacinth Bouquet so approach with caution.
[Image from Vogue]
As far as brighter colours are concerned, Pantone predicted ‘Living Coral’ to be the shade of the season and as always it should be taken with a pinch of salt – I can’t remember the last time they got it right. For the high street, the strongest colour that I picked up at the press shows was yellow. Most brands are doing a vibrant sunshine yellow although some, such as M&S, have opted for a more muted ochre. It’s easy to update summer outfits with yellow accessories if you’re not keen on it as an overall look.
The other key trend of course is animal print. Leopard dominated AW18, but for SS19, snake is top of the leaderboard both in its classic python iteration but also with a twist of colour like this. There’s a lot of rainbow snake around:
Other animal prints you’ll spot coming through in advance of AW19 are cow print, zebra and tiger print.
3. Understand denim
With the cowboy/prairie trend that’s running through fashion, denim is strong. There’s a lot of double or even triple denim around so if you like the street-styler look, it’s a good time to buy a new denim shirt or jacket to wear with your jeans.
(Note the double denim, longer jacket, straight jeans, tucked in top and barely there sandals)
In terms of wash, it’s mid-blue through to pale, in fact high trend is for acid washes with splatters – remember the 80s? Think back to A-ha in their glory days and you have the look.
[Image source Vogue]
As far as cut is concerned, jeans continue to be cropped and either wide or at least straight legged. However, designers have surrendered their fight and have now declared skinnies to be a classic. There’s a huge levelling going on in the world of fashion and this is one way in which I think social media can work in our favour. When I was working at Selfridges, the major design houses had complete control over seasonal changes. All of the visual communication of style was managed by them and driven through advertising or the editors of fashion magazines. It meant that key looks turned over completely each season and wardrobes had to be re-engineered if you wanted to be stylish.
Now though, it’s the ‘real’ people who own fashion and different looks are communicated every day. The downside of this of course is fast fashion with some feeling that they have to show a new outfit every time they post. The upside however is that if people like a style (such as skinny jeans) they keep on wearing it, regardless of what the fashion gods decree, so it survives. Interesting isn’t it?
4. Keep an eye on silhouette
No big changes here, the silhouette on the whole remains tighter on the top with volume at the bottom. Blazers are worn long, as are skirts – the midi is being superseded by the midaxi which cuts off at the bottom of the calf. Shapes are fluid with wide leg trousers and flowing skirts; satin slip dresses and slip skirts are still strong. Shirtdresses are a popular way of challenging the overblown floaty midaxi number. A new returner to the trouser shape is the cargo pant although this time it’s a neater cut than it was in the 90s. Always think about the pocket placement though – if it’s on the thigh, it’s going to add visual width.
5. Embrace accessories
Earrings continue to be the focus for jewellery and are still worn large. Resin is trending…
… along with pearls worn in a contemporary way.
Shells are big for summer
In terms of bags, natural weaves of straw, jute and raffia continue to be strong. The ‘most wanted’ bag is this one from Loewe, a snip at £350…
… mine won’t have a Loewe logo on them but they won’t cost £350 either! I’ve just received a picture of my first batch of beach bags today – here they are, finished and ready to ship.
Each one has been hand embroidered by the women’s co-operative in Marrakech so no two are quite the same. I’ve only ordered 20 of this design first time round to see how popular they are so if you’d like to reserve one, do get in touch on the shop email: accounts[at]midlifechic.co.uk (don’t forget to replace [at] with @ – I write it this way to avoid being spammed by bots). If you like them I’ll order some more.
They’re standard straw baskets with long, flat leather straps in a natural waxed finish. The ‘Hello Sunshine’ options are available with orange or pink embroidery. “Out of Office’ are available with white or navy embroidery. They’re going to retail for £39 (plus postage).
And that is as far as I’m going with trends for SS19, I’m glossing over some of the hot topics such as tie-dye, boiler-suits, cherry motifs and bicycle shorts – let’s see how that all pans out. On the whole, this is what retailers tend to call a quiet season, there are no fundamental changes – buy a couple of pairs of new shoes, check the shade of your jeans and maybe add something in a splash of yellow and some new earrings. And of course you don’t have to do any of that either – wear the things that make you happy and enjoy the sunshine… returning soon we hope.
Disclosure: ‘5 easy ways to update your wardrobe – SS19’ is not a sponsored post.
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