Ok, here we go, the one some of you have said you’ve been waiting for – it’s the key wearable trends autumn winter 2018 post. I hope you’re not bored of trends already because I know everyone’s been covering it. However as always, I’m coming at it from the angle of someone who’s spent their retail career trying to correlate the flights of fancy of the buying teams with the sales targets of the commercial teams and the wearability demands of the flesh and blood consumer.
I’m setting aside the fashion flimflam and focusing on the key elements of any new season. Today we’ll look at the architecture (or cuts) that you’re going to see around, followed by the fabrics. We’ll move on to colour on Tuesday. By the end of that post, I’m hoping you’ll feel as though you’re part of the cognoscenti. We’ll bypass the looks that are there purely for brand-building by capturing column inches in magazines and impressions on Instagram. These include triple coating (literally wearing three coats on top of each other); micro-dresses and… balaclavas (yes really). Instead I bring you a realistic guide to trends on the high street for Autumn 2018.
Part 1: Architecture
I think this is always the most important place to start. What’s going on with the silhouette? Where are hemlines sitting and what about trousers? Last autumn’s silhouette was a major shake-up. We moved away from a decade of volume being on the top half paired with a skinny bottom or short hemline. The new shape was all about voluminous skirts or trousers balanced out with a tighter top. This look is here to stay.
Continue to fall at a low midi-length. The wafty midi-dress is still going strong although personally I’m really tired of it. I have a couple but I find them poor value because they’re a distinctive look and so I just don’t want to repeat them very often. As we saw with the IdLF post there’s a backlash coming through in the form of the long pencil skirt, with or without a flippy hem. As we see more of Meghan Markle who really embraces this style, I think this cut will get even stronger but it may well not come through to the high street in a big way until next autumn.
In the meantime, very full skirts are growing rapidly in popularity – see the Instagram success of Kemi Telford. I think it’s fantastic that a midlife London mum has managed to build a peer-led brand like this. As soon as her stock comes in it sells out, it’s a great, grass-roots story.
The asymmetric hem
This continues to build in popularity. It’s incredibly flattering because the hemline distorts the horizontal lines of your body making you appear taller and slimmer. The new entry here is the ‘slip skirt’ which you saw me wearing in my Hush post last week. Bias-cut satin is going to get stronger and stronger as we move towards Christmas. It feels very 90s throwback at the moment but we’ll soon be used to it.
The pleated skirt
The pleated midi went a bit quiet last year but now it’s back again. Sharp knife pleats are the most popular because they’re kinder than sunray pleats which emphasise any hint of a rounded midriff.
Alternatively you’ll see this kind of soft pleat coming through where it’s stitched in at the top but then cascades into something more floaty.
Note how in all of these shots, the skirt is the focus, styled with a very plain almost functional top.
The reign of the cropped trouser continues, either in a wide or straight leg or even a kick-flare. They’re everywhere and I suspect that they’ll be popular for a long time yet because they’re so easy to wear. Unlike a full length wide-leg, you don’t need one pair for wearing with flats and another for heels. With the cropped wide-leg you can wear boots or shoes and any heel height.
As for the skinny, it’s not high fashion but it’s still not dead either and in fact we’re probably going to start to see ski-pants with stirrups coming through. It might be this year or it might be next, it depends how quickly the new generation adopts them!
The other big trend in trousers is the full length wide-leg; high-waisted and in either a slouchy cut or with a smart knife pleat.
Note: don’t forget that suiting is huge, either in the form of the trouser suit that has been around for a couple of seasons now but also increasingly a skirt suit – a nipped in jacket worn with a matching long pencil skirt. It’s so chic that a return is long overdue.
If you really want to be high-trend, you’ll wear a top with volume too. There are lots of voluminous jumpers and tops around but it’s a hard look to pull off unless you have narrow shoulders and a stick thin figure like this.
Style rules (rather than fashion) would always dictate that you need a point of emphasis somewhere on your body. The happy balance is to go for a tucked in top with volume in the sleeves, that way you’re referencing trend but don’t look like a Barbapapa (bonus points for anyone who remembers them). If you don’t want to add bulk to the waist by tucking in, go for something that is slightly cropped:
Soft mock neck sweater (also available in rust, pink or green)
Shoes and boots continue to be a statement item – midi-skirts and cropped trousers require good footwear to set them off. However the detail this year is moving away from the embellishment of last season (jewels and embroidery) towards an architectural focus concentrating specifically on the heel.
Statement heel boots (note the new square toe emerging – and patent too)
Cowboy boots are back, as are knee-high slouch boots – these are a really key look for AW18 and they look great with wide leg cropped trousers and midi-skirts.
Other shoe trends that are key are loafers (either flat or heeled), patent and mock croc (mock croc is going to be even bigger next year so it’s a good investment now).
Part 2: Fabric
Fabric is really important this season, it’s all about mixing textures. You can either combine the soft and cosy: velvet, cashmere, cord (cord is huge), tweed (tweed is huge too), felted wool or contrast them with shiny satins, silks, leather and vinyl.
You can’t have missed the animal print trend. I’m talking about all items of clothing now, not just shoes although personally as I’m not a fan of wearing pattern, I prefer to restrict animal print to accessories. Leopard is ubiquitous… snake print is perhaps cooler though… or zebra.
Balmoral chic – tweed and checks
An interesting trend, driven by the surging popularity of the royal family. This isn’t just thanks to Kate and Meghan but also because of a huge increase in support for the Queen, particularly since Series 2 of The Crown. As you saw in some of the outfits at the beginning of this post, tweed is everywhere. So is any kind of check or tartan, particularly in coats, jackets and trousers. You can either go the whole hog with nubbly textured jumpers and tweed accessories:
Or just add a touch of tweed to a modern wardobe
As an extension of the Balmoral trend, you’ll also notice a lot of Hermès-style scarf prints being incorporated into clothing.
Geography teacher chic – corduroy
And to finish, the biggest trend for AW18 is everything 70s… but geography teacher chic in particular with a preponderance of tan-coloured cord. What’s it all about? It’s a big dose of nostalgia, emanating particularly from the millennial generation who look back and see a pre-digital time with no social media. Of course we know that it wasn’t quite as halcyon as they think but in many ways it was a simpler time and in today’s very uncertain climate, it’s easy to see that slow news distribution was a comforting thing. I’ll be covering the 70s trend more as we get deeper into the season but this is the suit that everyone’s talking about, I’ve ordered one so when it arrives I’ll tell you what I think.
If you’re giving the 70s trend a go, just make sure you keep your accessories modern so that you don’t look full on retro (unless you want to of course).
So, I know that’s been a long post but I hope it’s been helpful. By the way I’m not for one minute saying that you should trash your current wardrobe and go out and buy a whole new one. It’s just a guide in case you’re shopping and want to be able to interpret what you see. As I said I’ll be back on Tuesday with part two which is all about colours. In the meantime have a wonderful weekend. I’m looking forward to mine because the eldest is finally arriving home after his extended year at Nike. It’s going to be good to have him back.
Disclosure: ‘Key wearable trends autumn winter 2018’ is not a sponsored post.
Other Autumn/Winter 18 posts you may have missed
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