The 2000s have been an interesting decade from a fashion perspective. In recent years, the look of the moment was "anything goes". We paired military trends with 1920's dresses, boho 70's tunics with 80's riding boots, wore curve-hugging dresses reminiscent of a 1950's housewife, and re-invented the skinny jean. It's like this decade has featured the greatest hits from the 20th Century, remixed. Which is so liberating: find the most flattering shapes for your body (is your body type a skinny 60's mod or a curvy 50's housewife?), mix with anything else that strikes your fancy, and you have self-expression through fashion at it's best.
Not to belabor the point, but another good reason for mixing up previously seen fashion trends is to prevent one from looking like they are in costume. Rule of thumb: Costumes are great for Halloween, or a theme party, but if you feel as though you are in one, something about your outfit is wrong.
NOTE: You'll need this rule to get through this fashion season.
Fall 2009, is, in my opinion, uninspired at best. At worst, it's tired, unflattering, ridiculous fashion. If you are looking to spend wads of cash to look like you just came from an 1980's-meets-the-Jetsons party, this is your decade. "Jane! Stop this crazy thing!!" I wish.
Key Fall 2009 Trends
1. Black, White and Gray
Yawn. Really? They are introducing neutrals as key colors of the season? Wow. Did someone lose their color wheel? Little hint: Black never really goes out of style. Neither does white. When the fashion industry says something dumb like, "pink is the new black", it never is. Black is black. We wear it every season. And Gray has been declared a fall color now for the past 3 years. I'm not complaining, I like all of these colors but this trend fits into the category of UNINSPIRED.
2. Cocoon Coats
Because that's what we are all craving: a coat that makes us look short and fat. Thank you, fashion gods. I'll be sticking with my trench this year. Category: UNFLATTERING
3. Over-the-Knee Boots
Calling all 6' 3" tall moms with skinny legs: Stand up now, this trend is for you. The rest of us, sit down. Now, for those of you still standing, sit down if you are older than 35. Or if you boobs (after pregnancy and breast-feeding) look older than 35. Anyone still standing? I didn't think so. Category: IMPRACTICAL
4. Padded Shoulders
1980's shoulder pads. Been there, never should have done it the first time. By now we should know better. Shoulder pads don't look sexy, they don't even look bad-ass. They just look weird. Like you finished football practice early, and forgot to take off your shoulder pads before running into the office. I understand their place in history: The 1980's was a tough decade – women were entering the workplace and trying to prove that they were every bit as competent as their male counterparts. Echoing the male silhouette was part of that whole psyche. But now, almost 30 years later, do we really feel the need to look like men? Why? We women are waaay ahead in the looks department(the L-word taught us that), and it goes without saying that women and men are both equally capable in the workplace. Category: UNINSPIRED, UNFLATTERING and RIDICULOUS
5. Sculptural Shoulders
This is a tricky one. Designers have taken the return of the big shoulder in a slightly new direction by fashioning each shoulder into some kind of angular design. The result: it looks like you are wearing a spacesuit. A designer spacesuit, but a spacesuit nonetheless. Judy Jetson would be proud. Category: RIDICULOUS
6. Rich Materials – Think Satin, Brocade, Sequins, Lace, Velvet
I love using lush materials to amp up an outfit, but the trend is to mix these materials into your daytime rotation. Fine – as long as you have an unlimited dry-cleaning budget. I'd also like to remind you that brocade is rather stiff and doesn't drape well (petites should skip it), satin shows every little flaw (hello, uncomfortable Spanx), and lace…well, if it looks like something Madonna may have worn, put it down, back away slowly, and run screaming from the store. This trend is better left for date night. CATEGORY: IMPRACTICAL
7. Neon Colors
Right. Enough said. Category: UNFLATTERING
So yes, the 80's are back. There are numerous other 80's trends that I didn't bother mentioning above, all which have been showing up in the pages of magazines. Think jelly shoes, acid washed jeans, one shoulder tops, etc. One magazine article actually declared that, "Mom Jeans Are Back!" God help us. Fortunately, I don't believe we'll be talking about padded shoulders and the like for much longer. Why? Because it's just not flattering. No matter how beautiful the model in the 80's clothes, the fact remains that she will always look better in something else. Anything else, really. After a decade of picking and choosing the trends that look best, after a decade of celebrating individual style, I don't believe we, as a fashion population, will trade in our dark wash bootcuts that make our ass look fab for some acid washed jeans and line-backer jackets. If this decade has taught us anything, it's how not to be a fashion victim.
The other reason I don't believe the 80's trend will continue much longer is because, well, it's not even new. Other elements of the 80's started making a comeback years ago. For example, trends like one shoulder tops, studs, leggings, keds and dolman sleeves are all 80's trends that are still having their moment. Bringing padded shoulders back now doesn't feel fresh…it just feels tired. Unimaginative. Like the designers couldn't come up with anything else for 2009. Snore.
I'm betting that designers will continue on their current uninspired trajectory…which means that the grunge 90's are next. So start looking for over-sized plaid flannel shirts, overalls and Doc Martens to make their way back on the shelves.
Oops. Too late. Snore.
So for this season (and the next, and the next) I'm going to continue doing what I'm doing: wearing what looks best on me. Some days I like a little 60's mod, some days destroyed boyfriend jeans with pearls, or 70's tunics with leggings and flat boots, a flirty little dress that channels the 20's for date night….sigh. This is been such a good fashion decade. I'm not going to let a little shoulder padding wreck it.
Pictured above is RAILS' Kendra Buttondown Plaid Shirt in green, found at chickdowntown.com for $135, and Levi's Lot 66 Bib Overalls at freepeople.com for $595 (no, that's not a typo). These overalls are part of the Levi Wrath and Dust Collection. Whatever that means.