My favourite kind of fashion isn’t the kind that gets itself on the front page. Not the omelette dresses, or the maternity negligees. Praise be to Queen RiRi for both of those, but the fashion moments that get me really hot under the collar are in the small print. The blink-and-you’d-miss-it changes in the fashion weather, when the style winds shift direction, and something suddenly looks chic.
I’m talking about, for instance, the first time I saw someone knot the belt of their trenchcoat instead of threading it through the buckle and realised that this was the key to making a trench look more Paris Vogue and less French policeman. Or when I clocked that by shoulder-robing your coat, rather than putting your arms into the sleeves, you could instantly elevate your entrance to any social situation to quite extraordinarily dramatic effect – a bit like the free-styling-trick version of arriving in a private jet. Or when Phoebe Philo at Celine did the hair-tucked-inside-the-polo neck thing. Or when the penny finally dropped that all the cool people had stopped wearing invisible trainer socks with their trainers and started wearing thick white sport socks instead (I think this happened about two years ago actually, but I have only just noticed).
This is my stone-cold-favourite kind of fashion. The correct amount to fold your trouser cuff in any given season. To button your shirt to the top or leave two buttons undone? To tuck your shirt in or to leave it loose? To carry your handbag across your body, hook the strap over the crook of your elbow, or tuck it under your arm? This is my jam. This, my friends, is the juicy stuff. This is where you can roll your sleeves up (or not, depending on the season) and get stuck in.
This kind of fashion got lost for a bit. After the height of the pandemic, fashion split into two camps. There was the anti-fashion, anything-with-a-fleece-lining crew, and the roaring 20s brigade. The choice seemed stark: reject dressing up altogether or gorge on feathers and frills, like an Easter egg hunt after Lent.
Truth be told, none of us gets to choose between turning the clock back to the old normal and taking a great leap forward into a Zen new way of life. We all have to muddle along in whatever the new normal is. From a fashion point of view this is good news, because this is where the meat of the story happens.
So, let’s hear it for wearing mid-blue jeans again – not indigo, not washed out, but solid May-skies blue. Let’s dig out an ordinary, inch-thick plain leather belt and start wearing it with slightly oversized trousers, a white shirt and cat’s eye sunglasses – like the influencers do. Let’s experiment with a knee-high boot under a below-the-knee skirt, because that combination is going to be everywhere come autumn, mark my words, so we may as well get a jump on it before the weather gets much warmer. Or leaning into a chunky loafer, if you haven’t already done so. Perhaps you could experiment with a short-ish skirt and a long-ish blazer, which is the new suit-adjacent tailoring look in town.
None of this is headline-making stuff, but fashion doesn’t have to be. The best kind doesn’t even look like fashion, really: just clothes that look modern. No drama, no jeopardy, no plot twists. Fashion for a world that just keeps rolling smoothly on. Which sounds like a must-have to me.