Since the pandemic, the fashion industry’s offerings have reflected a need for escapism and fun through trends like dopamine dressing, Y2K styles, and fantasy-fueled styles. Yet, looking at the fall/winter 2023 lineups, it’s clear that the pendulum is swinging back, with designers returning to a mood more rooted in reality.
“Wearability,” as fashion critics have described the trend that loosely refers to clothing essentials, was a hot topic when brands showed the collections in February and March. After a few years of over-the-top styles, runway names were suddenly prioritizing fall staples, tailoring, and mix-and-match wardrobes. Take, for example, Miu Miu — a brand that just seasons prior showed the viral mini skirt and thigh-high furry boots — which featured models wearing blazers over hoodies. Instead of showing its prim-and-proper dresses, Prada likewise made a case for everyday cashmere sweaters (albeit paired with delicately embroidered skirts). Meanwhile, Valentino showed beaded pieces that mimicked the look of denim for its fall 2023 couture collection.
Much like the previous wave of whimsical, fanciful trends, this collective jump into normcore 2.0 may also be fueled by societal phenomena. Fears of an impending recession and a cost of living crisis are sparking a mood of soberness and a need for functionality in fashion; trends like “quiet luxury” are inviting consumers to dress like the wealthy as a substitute for actually getting rich. “Quiet luxury is on everyone’s mind, and while it’s a trend that will remain constant, we’ll see designers continuing to breathe new life into wearable, everyday staples through unique embellishments and prints,” said Caroline Maguire, fashion director at Shopbop. Then, there’s also the rising popularity of capsule wardrobes as a way to lower consumers’ carbon footprint.
Beyond a buzzword, the “wearability” trend is a return to basics that urges shoppers to prioritize the building blocks of everyday outfits rather than one-and-done special-occasion looks. This means it’s a time to focus heavily on the core essentials in our closets. For fall, according to Maguire, that means “tailored staples like trousers, trench coats and structured blazers, and luxe leathers and suedes in rich browns and blacks.” Ahead, more fall essentials that will give your wardrobe a reality check this season.
A Maxi Skirt
Maxi skirts have been on trend for most of 2023, and this is because, as Maguire points out, it’s a transitional piece that’s easily styled from spring to winter. This fall, it’s all about minimalist styles, as seen in the monochrome Tibi look pictured here.
Ground yourself literally this season, by switching out the previously popular platforms for ballet flats. Similarly to clothing, ballet flats in shades like black, beige, red, and chocolate will reign this fall. Alaia’s and Khaite’s mesh pairs will continue to cause waves as will Sandy Liang’s silky versions. Need more convincing? “Your feet will thank you,” says Maguire.
While oversized blazers have been popular the last few years, as designers focus more on tailoring, the cinched-waist blazer will take on a bigger role. What’s great about this blazer trend is that, because of its heavy ‘80s aesthetic, this silhouette is easily found in vintage and thrift shops. For styling, a pair of trousers or a maxi skirt will do — keep it simple.
A Pop of Red
While red can seem intense, when styled right, it can serve as a neutral. For these fall and winter seasons, designers bet big on the color, making it the season’s must-have hue. From scarlet on-the-go dresses to head-to-toe red ensembles, this shade is worth the investment ahead of the colder months. “From cherry reds to burgundy, you need wearable red staples in your wardrobe,” says Maguire.
This 2010s classic is making a comeback in a more elevated fashion. Instead of frilly, ruffled versions of the era, designers like Proenza Schouler and Collina Strada have proposed the minimalist, elongated peplum that’s more a voluminous top than a skater dress of years past.
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