Spring / Summer 2020 trend update

It’s time to move into new season with a spring / summer 2020 trend update. Before we start, I just want to apologise for being behind with the comments, I’ve had extra things eating into my time this week with the demise of FlyBe (flights and claims to be dealt with) along with Coronavirus. I thought we’d be relatively insulated from it up here but after spending the last few days getting the youngest ready for his Spanish Exchange departure this morning, it was suddenly cancelled last night. No refunds can be claimed so if you have any travel plans I’m just going to suggest that you check your travel insurance doesn’t exclude pandemics (ours did). I’ve now taken out a new policy at LV that doesn’t seem to have a pandemic exclusion and it covers school trips too – although too late for us. I’m not a financial adviser so read the policy small print yourself but LV are recommended by Which so that gives me confidence.

Now, let’s move on to look at brighter things and look at what’s ahead for the new season. I’m being asked so many questions about sustainability that I’m going to cover it off quickly too. I’ve tried not to make it too heavy going in the hope that you’ll read through it and then decide for yourself on how you’ll approach your wardrobe updates.

The context to the Spring / Summer 2020 trend update

As you know I’ve visited a lot of high street retailers and attended quite a few press days over the last couple of months as well as analysing column inches and the fact is that there isn’t much newness for Spring / Summer 2020. That, as always, is a trickle down from the direction that the designer brands are taking. When the SS20 fashion weeks were held last September, the focus was very much on sustainability.

Some designers paid attention to the sustainability of their clothes and hopefully that will increase as the seasons go on. On the whole though sustainability seemed to be largely a competition to see who could hold the greenest show. Some felt a bit tokenistic – Dior had a green space with 164 trees brought in that were then replanted in Paris while others claimed to have paid to offset the carbon impact of their shows. However some designers such as Vivienne Westwood cancelled their shows altogether citing environmental concerns and Gucci used fashion week to declare that its entire supply chain would be carbon neutral by the end of September 2019.

There is of course an irony to fashion houses presenting new collections of clothes while simultaneously wringing their hands at the state of the environment. As we all know, the business of fashion relies on a trend-driven seasonal about turn to keep the tills ringing. The trouble is that the need to be fashionable exerts pressure on the consumer resulting in us now buying approximately 80 billion pieces of clothing a year. To meet these ‘needs’, global textile production emits 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases – more than international flights and maritime shipping combined.

We’ve reached an absolute peak but it isn’t all the fault of the fashion houses. They’re doing what they’ve always done but now of course it’s inflated by social media and the influencer perpetuating the illusion that the average woman has something new to wear every day. And that in itself is a lucrative business – an Instagrammer with a relatively low audience of 20-30k followers can charge £500 for a post and then earn more on top by including ‘swipe up’ links. There’s nothing wrong with that in principle (assuming that the commercial relationship with the brand has been openly declared) but it does make it hard for Instagrammers to behave ethically because in order not to be continually provoking more spending, they have to restrict their own income potential. It’s a conundrum for anyone who’s earning a living that way.

The only way I can see it changing is if the Instagram audience does policing of its own, perhaps by unfollowing people whose consumption is too conspicuous. That in itself will force Instagrammers to reflect on their own behaviour. In the meantime there are lots of other Instagrammers who repeat wear their core wardrobe while every so often introducing something new that they genuinely love. They seem to me to be the best people to follow. It would be helpful if I put together a list but at the moment I only really look at Instagram once a week and then my feed tends to be filled with my family and you – I’m more interested in seeing what people are doing or thinking than what they’re wearing but I’ll try to spend a bit more time on there soon and pull some suggestions together.

Being more sustainable at a personal level

So what can the rest of us do as far as spending on style is concerned? It’s highly personal. For my part, I’m trying to carve a path between supporting the retail industry and doing less harm to the planet. I’m not going to stop buying and enjoying clothes but I’m being very careful about choosing which retailers I shop from and work with. It’s impossible for high street brands to become sustainable overnight because there are so many touch points that have to be overhauled. However it’s worth checking that they’re addressing sustainability with a clearly thought through strategy that has a specified end goal – for example to be fully carbon neutral by 2025.

There are easy personal wins too – investing time into understanding your style and knowing what looks good on your body will put a stop to impulse spending. Buying good fabrics that have been ethically sourced may mean that you spend more per item however you’ll probably end up buying fewer pieces that you genuinely love and keep for longer.

Another thing to consider is the handling of returns – some brands simply divert returns to landfill because it’s easier than repackaging and restocking them. I do my best to ensure that the brands I include on here always place returns back into their inventory.

I’ll stop there because I don’t want to leach all of the joy out of new season – goodness knows we all need a bit of a lift right now. It’s all about balance and I’m confident that as a group we’re intelligent enough to be considering the factors that matter while continuing to support good retailers.

Spring / Summer 2020 trend update for women over 40

Let’s move on to the fun bit – how can we refresh our wardrobes for the new season?


Well as we’ve already said, there isn’t a lot of newness in terms of shape or silhouette apart from the return of the mini-skirt but don’t worry, the midi isn’t going anywhere. What’s called ‘big energy dressing’ is continuing to develop too. We saw it last summer in the shape of the buffet dress – the big, loose wafty number that people were wearing. ‘Big energy’ has now moved into knits and we’ve looked at the looser, homespun jumpers and cardigans that are around. For spring it’s seen in the wide blazers with big shoulders that I featured a couple of weeks ago and also in sleeves. Puffed sleeves on everything, even sweatshirts, are a big trend – a small frame carries them off best.

Spring / Summer 2020 trend update

Shirt with puffed sleeves and polka dots – also available in khaki or pink

Reality dressing

Otherwise the terms that are being bandied about by the fashion editors are ‘reality dressing’ and ‘wearability’. This is good news, the focus is on capsule pieces that are almost beyond fashion. The catwalks included as many knee high boots and coats as they did sheer summer dresses and that’s because we’re being encouraged to lose the seasonality in what we buy and wear things all year round. This is the most talked about image from the SS20 shows which is amazing because it’s completely doable:

Spring / Summer 2020 trend update

(The Row SS20)

And so you’ll find that fashionability for SS20 lies mostly in the small details – let me take you through them.

Spring 2020 trend update


  • The trouser suit: still a big focus. To be highly fashionable it needs to be oversized but a tailored cut is a good option too, especially if it’s in a bold colour.
  • Leather: any item made in leather or pleather is cool – be careful with both, ensure leather comes from a fair source with good tanning methods and remember that pleather is almost always made from fossil fuels and lasts for years – which is both good and bad.
  • Jumpsuits / boilersuits: continue to be strong
  • 90s minimalism: the clean, Calvin Klein look is coming through as a counterbalance to Big Energy – slender styles with minimal detail in neutral colours

Spring / Summer 2020 trend update

Smart casual

70s nostalgia continues to be high trend, playing on the mood for vintage clothing (for people who wouldn’t dream of actually wearing vintage). So at the high fashion end you’ll see flares and other denim worn with tank tops or waistcoats amongst other things.

tank tops UK

Tank top (currently 20% off)

Oversized collars: can be embellished or plain.

oversized collars

Oversized collar blouse

Jeans: barrel shaped or straight (yes skinnies are still deemed to be a classic too), denim is generally a lighter wash again – or black.

best jean shape 2020

Preppy: is a new returning look. Polo shirts are coming through but opt for knitted rather than jersey, the idea is that they’re close fitting (see the image above, bottom right). Sporty style zip collars are key too as are classic oxford shirts, especially chambray as seen in the first picture in this post.

zip collar tops

Poloshirt neck sweatshirt (also available in pink), blazer

Blouses: are still an important wardrobe factor, tucked into jeans and maybe worn with a blazer. Sheerness is the key, they should need to be worn with (or of course without) a camisole so that they give a glimpse of your shape underneath.

Spring / Summer 2020 trend update

Semi-sheer blouse

Frills and ruching: a principle detail – blouses or shirts with pie-crust style collars and maybe ruffles down the front. Tiered skirts with a ra-ra effect either midi or mini, and dresses with ruching around the waist.

ruffle collar denim shirt

Frill collar blouse (also available in pink, khaki and mint green)

Necklines: I’m so happy about this… the ‘modest’ high and round necklines of the last few seasons are on their way out. Thank goodness, they can be so unflattering if your neck is less than swanlike. This season you’ll see sweetheart, square and scooped necklines as well as other sculpted shapes.

Spring / Summer 2020 trend update

Scoop neck top

necklines 2020

Sweetheart neckline top

Jewellery: the statement earring is still strong but a quick win and the easiest way to update your look is to wear a heavier gold chain necklace but pair a smaller earring with these.

Spring / Summer 2020 trend update

Gold chain necklace (good for long necks)

jewellery trends 2020

Gold chain necklace (good for short necks – visually lengthens)

Spring Colours

In the shops at the moment you’ll see a lot of pale mint green, blush pink and lilac along with beige which will be dominant right through until next year (shades of beige, coffee and chocolate worn together are a key look for AW20). Navy worn with bright reds, greens and yellows continues to be a strong combination for spring too.

Spring prints

To quote Meryl in Devil Wears Prada, “florals? For spring? Groundbreaking!” Yes they’re there again and as always are best handled with care in midlife to avoid looking too church fete. Polka dots are a safer bet, they’re all over the place again, apparently inspired by last year’s ubiquitous Zara dress (see below) although the dots I’ve spotted (couldn’t resist) are bigger.

Spring / Summer 2020 trend update

Summer 2020 trend update

As we get closer to summer there’s something new – the arrival of bermuda shorts. They’re worn mostly just above the knee in a slim cut with a blazer (matching for workwear) or just a t-shirt (extra style points for a polo shirt style collar) for smart casual.

Spring / Summer 2020 trend update

Sandals are again ‘barely there’ – low heeled with thin straps across the foot or tied around the ankle. The important detail is a square toe and this extends to shoes as well.

Spring / Summer 2020 trend update

Square toed barely there sandals

Safari styling is a trend of its own. You’ll spot a lot of safari jackets in the obvious colours of sand and khaki but in navy blue as well – it’s all about the belted waist and pocket detail…

safari jackets 2020

Jacket, t-shirt, jeans (20% off with MIDLIFECHIC20)

… this extends into other styles of utilitarian dressing such as pockets on dresses, slim cargo trousers and workman’s jackets.

Spring / Summer 2020 trend update

Cotton and lyocell shirtdress

slim cargo trousers

Slim cargo pant (20% off with MIDLIFECHIC20)

Colour palettes – there are three palettes for summer: shades of blue worn together as in the first picture, shades of white and ivory all worn together or tequila sunrise colours – pinks, oranges and reds with tangerine (a knocked back orange) being the number one tone.

pink and orange dress

Pink and orange dress – (my first summer 2020 purchase)

The other alternative is Crayola colour blocking which was strong again on the catwalks – red / fuchsia / cobalt worn as a block.

Prints: jungle palm prints will be everywhere, as you’d expect mostly in shades of green. A good choice for swimwear and other summer holiday pieces.

So hopefully that’s got you thinking, it’s quite inspiring having a wearable season ahead. Retailers are all having a very tough time at the moment so there are lots of offers on. Here are some you might like to look at:

And with that I wish you a happy Friday, summer’s coming and we’ll soon be spending much more time out in the fresh air. In anticipation of the youngest departing for Spain, Mr MC and I had a night away planned and we’re still going even though the poor boy’s stuck here. It feels like there’s some promise of good times ahead though, let’s hope so. I’ll be popping up on Instagram if you fancy a vicarious break, otherwise enjoy the new season drops and I’ll be back on Tuesday as usual.

Disclosure: “Spring / Summer 2020 trend update” is not a sponsored post.

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