x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Fashion notes: clash your wardrobe for a new look

This season, it appears, it's time to be bold.

Miu Miu. Photo by REX
Miu Miu. Photo by REX

Perhaps, living in a somewhat season-less environment, where summer and winter only seem to differ by varying degrees of heat, we shouldn’t be addressing trends as much as we do. The autumn/winter and spring/summer divide isn’t as important to us as it is to a large part of the world. We don’t particularly need to focus on tea dresses for summer any more than we need a shearling overcoat for winter. Plus, we’re more focused on an individual outlook than ever before.

Regardless, black, white, navy, grey or brown are often the common denominator in most of our wardrobes. We tend to cling to simple, block colour like a sail to the wind. Why? Because they project a certain kind of strength (without screaming come-hither), are demure, slimming, nearly always appropriate and, well, plain old safe. Which is a crying shame, as there's nothing more exciting than the dizzying effects of a mismatched wardrobe of clashing print.

Clearly, the same thought was running through designers’ minds for their spring/summer collections. This season, it appears, it's time to be bold.

Valentino brought us a folksy mix of highly decorative embroideries and ethnic craftsmanship, while McQueen played with graphic geometry, laser-cut leather and chequerboard dresses. Chanel experimented with a kind of art-school chic, full of deconstructed detailing, appliqué and patchwork, while Miu Miu brought us a beautiful 1970s-inspired collection brimming with retro prints and colour and texture clashes. When Céline's Phoebe Philo ditched her trademark minimalism for broad brushstrokes, we knew that things were serious.

All very well, I hear you say. Tangerine-orange polka dots, sunny yellow stripes and eye-popping fuchsia flowers will appear optimistic and fun (on the leggy models on the runway). We mere mortals, on the other hand, are likely to teeter precariously on the tutti-frutti pop princess side of the spectrum.

Normally, I'd begin with a little tentative encouragement. “Start small,” I’d whisper gently. But not this time. This is not a trend to be done in half measures. Either you let it pass you by completely, chortling to yourself at the mere thought of it all, or you go all in guns blazing.

Start by selecting a theme. Try to mix colours that accommodate each other – think of the colour wheel that you used at school. Don’t be afraid to take a risk – think bright on brights, print on prints, and colour on colours.

Remember, these traditions of bohemianism have the tendency to look and feel like a cliché rather easily, so learn to recognise that you need some contrast in your look if you’re going for the more-is-more extreme.

Instead, be sure to keep a clean, almost prim silhouette. If you’re wearing tight, patterned drainpipe trousers, try pairing them with a sheer, loose shirt. The same goes for a loose patterned skirt – team it with a fitted print camisole.

Surprisingly enough, intricate pattern can work in your favour when it comes to flattering your figure. If the pattern starts small and increases in size as it goes down, it will more often than not help the waist and hips appear narrower.

All in all, what we have here is a new sense of freedom within dress – a free pass of reinvention and the encouragement to create a new bold, individual look. So revel in the notion, because it’s not often that fashion allows us to do so.

ktrotter@thenational.ae