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The Truth About Trends In 2013 Fall Fashion

What do you think about fall fashion trends? Take a look at The Huffington Post, Glamour, or Refinery29 is even calling out 2014. But trends today aren’t what they used to be. Consider the New Look and the ubiquity of wasp waists, or the counter-culture uniformity of the 70s, when we wore wide-legs or went home. 2013 doesn’t work that way.


  • Fashion’s silhouettes flicker in and out over seasons, impact blurred by layering.
  • Right now we may be doing legs, but variety trumps uniformity.
  • In parallel, the specific triumphs over the general, singular objets de desir morph into “IT” bags and “IT” shoes, seen everywhere.
  • Style is more varied and democratic than ever, nothing becomes a true trend until the streets say so.

Layering + Vintage = Anything Goes

We’re wearing loose sweaters over tight legs, dresses over pants, vests over all of the above, miniskirts, maxidresses, full skirts, pencil skirts – really almost any shape can work. The idea of “vintage” now allows for everything, except, perhaps, shoulder pads.

Refinery 29 Skirt Over Pants

That Said, Legs Predominate, Even In Disguise

Weren’t you amazed by the swarms of miniskirts this summer?  Didn’t you often wonder if someone had forgotten their pants? Legs, legs, and more legs, provoke, unsurprisingly, their mini-rebellions. This year we rebel in harem pants, next year maybe wide legs, either way, legs are still the focus.

It’s possible, given what  designers are showing, that big round shoulders will start to make a mark. Or even the midriff. Get out your garlic and let’s fend off crop tops and bared bellies. Meanwhile, Grechen, of Grechen’s Closet, makes a pretty good case for the harem look.

Grechen's Closet Harem Pants

Love her strapped orange sandals.

Objets de Desir That Ate Cleveland. And Manhattan And Dallas And Los Angeles.

As the momentum from broad trends weaken, pinpoint focus gains strength. We obsess over singular objects, and knock them off. Behold.

The Winged Bag: While Celine may have started the winged bag frenzy, Philip Lim has taken it to the mid-level with the “Pashli,”and even to good old accessible Target, in his recent collaboration. Kate Spade carries the middle with her Beau shopper.

Don’t those side panels remind you of wings?

Legions Of Ankle Boots: Ankle booties may be the single most retailed good in American apparel right now. Whether Dickers or Acne booties kicked this off, I do not know. Kicked. Reduced to word play, are we?

Studded Anything: While I believe that Alexander Wang was the originator, with the Rocco bag, Valentino’s Patent Leather Rockstud Slingback Pumps surely held the imaginary nailgun that has studded everything we wear. (By the way, I auditioned those Rockstuds for my wedding shoes, and immediately understood their tidal wave of appeal. Had Significant Husband smiled, I might have married with a more brutal edge.)

So What Trends Have We Started? And Do They Have, Um, Legs?

OK, so I admit, it’s not that there’s no such thing as trends in fashion. It’s just that designers don’t decide, we do. Remember party pants? They’ve got quite a thing going in their patterned jean incarnation. Last year, florals. This year, let’s try some plaid. What do you say? It really doesn’t matter exactly what pattern, just that you wear it, mix it, and layer it.
Oh, and for the fashion followers among us, which I confess I am in spirit if in not action, white dresses and peplum tops have “legs” too. Bada bing.

Democracy Will Dictate What Takes

In every case, democracy, or the power of the masses, has chosen both the exact “It” objects and the slightly more general categories that stuck. Pantone may say Mint, but we say “Niener niener Cobalt,” and Cobalt it is.

State of Affairs

That the fashion industry finds itself in this state of affairs does not surprise me one whit. In one sitting we can read about what we must wear this fall – in Vogue’s September Issue – and what we MUST wear next spring – in’s online show news. It’s like those Star Trek episodes where Captain Picard comes back from the future and almost overwrites his present self. The most important factor in style now, as worn, is the eye of the wearer. If you’re really in the mood for trends, let’s start one.

I vote for flat shoes. You?


Skirt over pants via Refinery29
Harem pants via Grechen’s Closet
ALEXANDER WANG ‘Lia’ small shoulder bag
ISABEL MARANT ‘The Dicker’ boot
ACNE ‘Alma’ boot
Pashli Large Tote
kate spade new york Tote – Two Park Avenue Beau Shopper
Patent Leather Rockstud Slingback Pumps
Plaid Skinny Jean AKA 7 for All Mankind party pants, via Saks Fifth Avenue

40 Responses

  1. I am in for the flat shoes!

    I confess that I have no love for the ankle bootie. It looks awkward to me, but no one would ever accuse me of having great taste.

  2. Is it shameful that I immediately though MC Hammer rather than harem when seeing those pants? (I’m sure the answer to that is “yes.”) Not loving the winged bag, either – it looks like someone stuffed their purse too full.

    I, too, vote for flat shoes and rejoice in the absence of shoulder pads. It’s best I don’t comment on the plaid pants.

    1. At this point, with fashion to diverse, the opinions are going to be all over the place. MC Hammer has a role to play:)

  3. Gosh I am grateful that we no longer wear shoulder pads!
    I adore flats so I am on board with you. I’ll leave the party pants to the young women and embrace dark wash denim skinny jeans a trend that make me feel a bit like the Energizer Bunny:-))

  4. Kitten heels!! Every time they come back in style somewhat -or just become available in stores-I buy a bunch so I don’t have to do without in the dry spells.
    I do love that style is so fluid. More what works for your own body and lifestyle rather than feeling “out of style” if you aren’t in the current non-flattering trend.
    And colors! Emerald may be the new “it” color but I can NOT wear green. If the color of the year is bad on me…I’ll take black and white and screw the color/fashion industry.

  5. The layered look is because fabrics these days are SO THIN you can’t help but do anything else. Even in the nice stores :( I got this shirt (that I am assuming is from the 90s because it was so short) from a consignment shop and loved the thick, soft cotton. They don’t make it like that anymore :(

    Happy about the flats and the kitten heels. It’s been 3 years since I’ve been able to wear actual heels due to a bad ankle sprain and plantar fasciitis. But I love heels because I have, uh, sturdy legs and they lengthen my calf somewhat. Even a tiny kitten-heel rise helps. I just bought my first pair since 2004. :)

    1. Interesting. I would have thought the fabrics were thin to facilitate layering, but you might be right!

  6. Trends are strange things. Sometimes it takes a while to get the eye accustomed to a new silhouette and yet when it does other silhouettes tend to look dated. Personally I am in favour of a small shoulder pad as I have narrow shoulders in relation to hip width. Everyone to their own.

  7. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, how diluted trends have become. But I’m loving the selections available now…especially low-heeled and pointy-toed footwear!

  8. I actually like layers because I like the look of artfully arranged layers. Although fabric definitely is thin these days and I am SO OVER viscose blends. I agree on the flat shoes, but I’ll wear them every day trendy or not.

    1. Viscose is Of The Devil. I’ve taken to reading lables and will not buy a viscose T shirt because they tend to turn into crumbled rags after washing and Hell no, I’m not ironing a T shirt! I guess it must be much cheaper than cotton or polyester, though because viscose is eeeeeverywhere.

  9. I’m really tired of fashion and trends, I just want to opt now, but I have to fight the good fashion fight, so I will stick to the comfy and stretchy where possible with one or two dressier bits put by for the autumn/winter opera season.

  10. Great post. Remember all the fabric we used to wear with those shoulder pads? Twenty years later, I wear things so much closer to the body.

    Yes to nice flats!

    Glad I sat out the flowered denim; those plaid pants are way too Austen Powers.

  11. As I wrote on my own post today, I don´t like the word starting with T.
    I wish to keep as far of it as possible. Ugh harem pants, studs, moto-anything and lots of more.
    I´ll focus on comfort and quality as always. Thank you!

  12. I’m afraid those harem style pants are starting to grow on me. I’ve seen some which I just think of as a maxi skirt with nice little ankle cozies to keep the hem of the skirt tidy and safe from wind, etc.

  13. I find with trends, it is better to steer clear. Channel Jackie I with a black top and khakis, simple sandals and delicate jewels. 20 years from now you will most likely enjoy the photo. Doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy small pieces of a trend (animal print bangle rather than a dress). It’s an interesting style world.

  14. Yes to flat shoes since that’s all I’ve worn for years now. Yes to layering since I’ve been doing it forever. Nice to see the fashion world is catching up with me. A thousand time no to harem pants, plaid pants and pink handbags. YMMV. I’m neutral on ankle boots. I have them and wear them on occasion, but I would never say they’re a necessity. Not in Southern California, anyway. I have a white dress. I’ve worn it once, in Maine, on vacation. Fifteen years ago, at least. I love peplum tops and I didn’t think I would. I love mint and cobalt, bought cobalt, but could never find anything mint in my size…

  15. Another vote for flat shoes :)

    One positive aspect of the all-things everywhere ubiquity of styles now is that trends are less iron clad than they used to be (to wit: your ’50s and ’70s examples). Dressing is more democratic than it’s ever been. Nod to the trends or don’t, and either way you can be right. Somewhere out there, as we speak, a street style maven is bringing back shoulder pads!

  16. thanks for featuring me, lisa :)
    not a lot of love for harem pants though i’m afraid! it’s so interesting how passionate women are on the subject – and mostly negative!! (not necessarily here, just all over.)

    i’ve never really looked at things in terms of what’s trendy, just what i like. honestly, i use what’s “trendy” as an excuse to stock up on what i love. when maxi skirts and dresses came back “in” a few years ago, i started hoarding them because they were more readily available. if you love kitten heels or platform shoes, the best time to buy them is when they’re “in” because everyone will be doing them and you’ll have your pick of the litter.

    but trendy or not, i’m always going to try new things – if it turns out i love them, fine, if i don’t, fine. but i’m not going to eschew something just because it’s “trendy”

    and i definitely vote for flat shoes. always.

  17. I will campaign for flats! I just bought the yummiest pair of bright pink Patricia Green driving mocs and they are more comfy than any slipper I have ever had and cute too.

  18. Remember when someone said that “Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did…only backwards and in high heels”? -There were those who thought that was in praise of Ginger. Personally I thought it spoke badly of women. Yes, I am for flat shoes, and for looking where we are headed when we dance :)

  19. A little bit of shoulder padding is nice, and You have my vote for flats! Not so sure about the pants / leggings under a dress, looks great on a model but might not work for a fuller figure.
    Discussing trends always reminds me of Miranda Priestly’s cerulean rant in The Devil Wears Prada. ;-)

  20. Well, I’ve got serious legs, making up over half of my 1,76 m and I still opt to stay with bootcuts. I see nothing but skinnies over here and somehow don’t feel they’re a warming choice for colder weather.

    And, as a V-shape, having “shoulders” naturally, I don’t need any padding …

    Except for ankle booties to wear with skirts and Pants I haven’t found much of interest among fall/winter trends. Something quilted for structure, perhaps, but that can wait until sales. And maybe I’ll knit myself a sweater in a trendy colour, but that’s really it.

  21. Living a rural life has its own’trend’Hunters/Barbours’/Harris tweed jackets for Autumn/chinos…..I do spruce up well for London.

  22. I suppose if you need something new it is good to see what trends are out there so you know what may be available. Enjoyed the links. I saw two tiny mentions that appeal to me 1) turtle neck sweaters, hard to find in recent years 2) pale pink in winter, also hard to find at times.

    Enjoyed the tour, thanks.


  23. Harem pants, pants under dresses, trickedy/busy tights, underwear as outerwear, oddly layered and poufed dresses: why work so hard? The best clothes follow the natural line of the body, unless one is a performance artist.

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