Oscar Wilde wrote that "life imitates art far more than art imitates life." I am fascinated by the relationship between fashion and its current trends with how life is happening around us. I agree with Oscar a lot of the time; for the style-obsessed, art (and in this case, fashion) can change the course of our day or night and influence the way we see reality. The rush of dreaming up a look to wear adds to the magic of an event, and may be inspired and influenced by icons of style, great and small. This is happening all the time - when you think about fashion as wearable art, it is easy to recognize how our daily style reaches for and imitates fashion we see and love on our friends, people on the street, and prominent style leaders we follow in all types of media. This is how trends evolve, and is one of the coolest parts about fashion - we are all molding it all the time, creating little pieces of art that influence life in small but meaningful ways for ourselves and fellow style lovers.
Since the pandemic, I've been thinking about the other direction though - how fashion is influenced by big changes in lifestyle. Since the lockdown of last March, whole parts of our wardrobes have gone untouched. In the collections that have been designed and produced since the pandemic, there are marked shifts that reflect how our lives have changed. You can even see it in the fashion companies who have collapsed or risen from the ashes during this time. Some changes are obvious - we have little use for stilletos if bars and clubs are closed and events are cancelled. Our priorities shift if we are at home more than out - we need to balance feeling pretty and professional with being casual and comfortable in leisurewear. But some shifts are more subtle - have you heard that Gen Z would like to "cancel" skinny jeans? After months of a more home-centric life, looser fits are appealing to the younger generation (if we go back to jeans at all). Even beauty trends are effected - lipstick and contour will be hidden and smudged by a mask, but mascara and eye makeup have never been more fun to play with.
In my own life, I long to wear a full face of makeup, my highest heels, and the most extra dresses that have been waiting patiently in my closet. I've packed bags for future trips in my head, filled with outfits for brunches, weddings, girls nights, and date nights. But I've mentally put all of these things on reserve - if all goes well, I hope to bust them out for a Summer bursting with life. In the meantime, the reality is a sleepy winter with just the very beginnings of returning to causes for dressing up. My winter trends have geared to building a wardrobe fit for a different lifestyle than I've had in winters past - dining outdoors in NYC in February and taking video meetings, or having virtual happy hours while sitting on my couch. Winter style is always more causal and cozy, but in 2021, let's take it outdoors and virtual.
LAYERS - BUT MAKE IT CUTE
There is something very apres ski about dining outside in the winter. I may never make it to the bunny slope - but the apres life I'm happy to live. There are few things that the pandemic has brought that I want to last, but this expansion of outdoor dining is one rare gem I'd like to keep. I am obsessed with the villages of patio setups in New York City - from yurts to igloos to spaced out winter gardens, there is something magical in the air. Part of it is the excitement just to get out into the world and be social, but part of it is that same feeling I've gotten sitting outdoors at restaurants in Vail during ski season - the fun of bundling up, huddling under a heater with a cocktail, and still enjoying the crisp winter atmosphere. The key to winter fashion with this new lifestyle addition is LAYERS - may it be textures, neutrals, patterns, fits and details. In my eyes, it's the best way to bring your own style and expression to looks made up of soft, comfortable, and warm staples.
Not only will layers add interest and texture to your look, they will keep you warm and cozy on the patio. I'm loving our assortments from Joah Brown, Boyish and Stillwater for this winter trend - mix and match turtlenecks, oversized cardigans, and slouchy pullovers so that you can shed layers if you are seated near a heater, or keep bundled if we have a snow shower (which seems to be happening daily up here). The loose fits give a chic and slightly undone look that I love - it keeps with that apres ski vibe that we are going for. Add on your favorite knit scarf, mittens, and your warmest coat and you will be fit for any outdoor social occasion. The best part about these layers, is that they look just as cute with your snowboots, while the sidewalks are still icy, as they do with a heeled bootie or over the knees as we start transitioning out of the snow. If you are hailing from warmer parts of the world - I'm jealous, but just do fewer layers. All of these beauties work on their own as well, and will be just as suitable for chilly evenings as full on snow days for us Northerners.
Call me crazy, but I've been just as excited about putting together these cold-weather cozy looks to go to outdoor happy hour as I have been in winters past going full glam to a cocktail lounge. It's a refreshing new challenge, and the upside is that I don't have to worry about choosing between carrying a coat all night or freezing on my way from the Uber to the door.
SLOUCHY BUT SEXY
There are several takes and extents of this slouchy trend - and I love them all. The basic idea is a loose, easy fit that still flatters, and that can translate to separates and dresses for varying amounts of casual. This trend is perfect for our current lifestyle - when I have video conference meetings for work, or zoom happy hours, I want to be inspired by my clothing and feel like I'm dressing up for the occasion, but it seems silly to be uncomfortable at my kitchen counter or on my couch. Meeting a friend and parking next to each other for a distanced coffee date, or running out for a local store delivery is sometimes the biggest outing of my day, so I use it as an excuse to get dolled up, but the definition of that is usually some version of this slouchy yet sexy trend.
Slip dresses and shirt dresses with high slits are carefree, easy and polished - giving freedom of (and emphasis on) movement. A boyfriend fit blazer takes any look to a put-together business casual, while still emanating that easy vibe because we have traded stuffy fits for something that feels like a cardigan. A top that falls off the shoulder is light and comfy, but also gives an effortless sexiness that keeps us feeling like we are still stylish and dressing for the occasion. A repurposed button down can be left open over a tank layer for a loose but styled ensemble. For pants (even denim), I know I'll eventually revisit my favorite skinnies, but in this time I'm branching out to boyfriend fits, straight legs, and comfier waistbands.
Sometimes, the easiest way to feel excited about a more casual comfy look is to doll up with accessories. Our newest collection from Cleobella has me swooning. Since our outings tend be shorter lived these days, we don't need to bring much along for the ride, and these cute little bags are perfectly functional. Throw in your keys, phone, and hand sanitizer and you are good to go. Tie-style headbands and scrunchies are a brilliant little detail that can take a look made up of basics up a notch. This actually also goes back to my layering trend - textures and patterns can mix in to level up any look.
Jewelry has a similar effect - a modern earring or a wrist full of bangles make a simple look suddenly chic. The trend right now is delicate, dainty, and glimmering. Save your big statement pieces for next season, and carry over the layering trend to your jewels as well - little slivers of gold and silver will keep your look in line with the muted and simplistic vibe of winter 2021.
I'm brought back to the question of what is inspiring what - are our dreams of our lives and the art of the world still influencing our style in this locked down world, or are the changing forms of our lives shifting the way we style our clothing? I think it really is a loop, where the beginning of the thread is impossible to find. Fashion meets function to a certain extent, but the excitement and inspiration of the art of fashion breathing life into our day to day is always still there too. And while I truly am loving this transition time of late winter softness, I just have a feeling that Spring around the corner will be filled with the bright bold inspirations we have been dying to bring back into our wardrobes.