As the new year approaches, thoughts turn to trends to expect in the coming months.
While there is plenty of uncertainty around, conversely, many are still enjoying life as we try to move into a post-Covid world. It's this dichotomy that has given rise to a number of trends for the year ahead, with countless ideas offered by recent runway collections.
Whether it be dressing in shades of lilac or in rugged denim, or treating yourself to the languid comfort of soft tailoring, there's sure to be a look to fit every facet of our personalities.
Here's how to tailor your style in 2023.
The high and low of hems
Ah, the asymmetric hem. Set to be an important look next year, hemlines have a dual role as a fashion item and as a litmus test of public confidence. Historically, high hem lines are linked to optimism and low hems — also known as maxi skirts — signal an overall sense of caution.
For 2023, we have a hemline that is both high and low. But rather than signalling doom and gloom, instead, regard it as a breezy new pragmatism, which mixes a sense of considered drama with the freedom to move.
Coupled with tights, as fashioned by Stella McCartney, Victoria Beckham or Alaia, or with over-the-knee boots, as seen at MSGM or Rick Owens, this is the outfit for dancing like no one is watching.
This style from the pre-social media days of 1990s Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Gwen Stefani is back. Now updated, it has shifted towards something more polished, as showcased by Alexander McQueen, which invented the original “bumster” style in 1994, offering tailored stovepipe trousers sliced across the hip bones.
Prabal Gurung offers crisp tailoring, teaming a razor-sharp cropped jacket with trousers low enough to be scandalous, while Valentino’s dressy, floor-length evening skirts are worn extra-low, with flesh-coloured tops to heighten the sense of drama. Stella McCartney goes a different route, however, one more akin to the 1990s vibe, with loose denim jeans, sitting boyishly low on the hips.
Sheer fabrics and gossamer layers are a major look for 2023. The most effective route has a sheer layer teamed with large underpinnings, as seen at Ermanno Scervino, Emilia Wickstead and N21.
Saint Laurent goes one step further, by shielding its transparent dresses under floor-length coats. Another take is sheer knitted separates, as fashioned by Miu Miu, and a transparent over-dress as per Erdem.
A further twist to this trend adds lace trimmings, hold-up stockings and even long, sheer gloves. Into this arena steps Dolce & Gabbana, with pieces drawn from the archives by Kim Kardashian. Corset as a minidress, lace bralettes and satin pencil skirts, this is prime D&G territory and offers a guiding hand on the best way to stay the right side of classy.
Continuing the trends of reinventing nostalgic looks, 2023 is leaning towards glamorous old-school drapery. Evocative of the early silver screen days of Hollywood, this is all about sweeping folds of cloth, crossing the body in a way that is both sensual and elegant.
At Schiaparelli — a pioneer of the style the first time around — cream folds hug the body from shoulder to ankle, while at Balenciaga fabric is gathered into knots at the chest and hip. Balmain mixes its intricate drapery with strategic cut-outs, while Halpern looks to a heavenly blue for sweeps of regal velvet scattered with stars. Dramatic, cowled necklines are being fashioned by Blumarine in glossy satin, and Alberta Ferretti in matte jersey, while Paul Smith adds a simple drawstring to bring the drama.
A yearning to indulge in some harmless dressing-up is understandable after almost three years since the first round of global Covid-19 lockdowns. Several names have tapped into this need, offering beautiful clothes with strong historical leanings, to encourage a little theatricality.
Christian Dior offers artisanal, 19th-century crinolines, both short and long, held up with dainty ribbons, while at Rochas, Lanvin and Marques Almeida, 16th-century farthingales are reworked into the exaggerated, sculpted hips, seen in historical portraits. Fast-forward a few centuries and Thom Browne is embracing full poodle skirts of the 1950s, while even Carolina Herrera is adding volume to its skirts, reminiscent of the 1930s.
When grunge first burst onto the scene in the 1990s, it was boisterously anti-fashion, and a celebration of all things thrift store. This time around, while the aesthetic may be the same, the thinking underpinning it is entirely different.
For 2023, this downplayed look has been updated to define modern luxury, as seen at Matthew Blazy’s Bottega Veneta runway show, where Kate Moss stepped out wearing a simple white singlet, a chequered shirt and a pair of jeans. Except they weren’t simple at all. Rather, all were fashioned from calfskin leather (Bottega is a leather house, after all), hand-coloured and painted to achieve the desired effect. The flannel shirt, for example, took 12 layers of colour to achieve the precise tone.
Raf Simons, too, offers a more haute version, with its sleek top and skirt, finished with stirrup tights and a graffiti-strewn vest, while Ralph Lauren delivers a retro-looking slip dress, made from the softest silk. Even trend-averse Max Mara offers an impeccably oversized cable knit sweater with matching trousers that pool around the ankles.
Coach goes for oversized knits, now patchworked from different patterns and worn with pearls. And this is the crux of nailing this trend because, while it appears to be about dressing down, modern grunge is all about the polished details.
Freed from their festive-season connotations, sequins are being revamped as springwear. Favouring a muted, antique feel, 16Arlington, Balenciaga and Jonathan Simkhai venture into aged silvers, and faded mint greens.
Nensi Dojaka cuts pink sequins into a show-stopping neckline, while Valentino goes for several options, from a shimmery catsuit to a technically outstanding bias-cut, pleated green dress. Elie Saab brings a summery lightness with a scooped neck dress covered in clusters of pixelated sequin flowers, while Brandon Maxwell and Halpern look back to the Studio 54 heyday of shimmer, with gleaming flowers and flashes of 1970s gold, green and blue.
Move over fuchsia; 2023 is all about cobalt blue. As such a punchy tone, this is a case of embracing the drama and going all in. This is the case at David Koma, which opts for a mini dress, bomber jacket, low-slung bag and over-the-knee boots all in the same in-your-face colour.
For Ib Kamara’s debut at Off-White, cobalt dominated the collection both through the clothes and the runway painted to match. To temper the look, Kamara adds pops of other blues as a clever point of balance, which conversely ramp up the impact.
CFCL, too, goes for a cobalt floor and teams its longline dresses with navy blue cloche hats. Cecilie Bahnsen gives the hue an altogether more romantic feel, with crinkled baby doll dresses that feel like crumpled paper, while at McQueen this vibrant tone is carved into slick tailoring.
Dubbed the Canadian tuxedo, double denim has for years had a bad rep, but no longer. Throwing aside the spectre of Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake’s terrible matching denim circa 2001, now it arrives with a new, languid polish. At Tod’s, it manifests as a simple trench coat, worn belted over two-tone trousers, while at AZ Factory, Lutz Huelle proffers inky, midnight wash denim as a box-fresh cropped jacket and trousers.
At Chloe, designer Gabriela Hearst delivers a trio of denim; with a cropped top and jeans worn under another belted trench. Even Burberry, normally known for its tidy silhouette, offers a new take as a supersized patch-pocket shirt over extra-wide trousers.
Masculine suiting is being reimagined for spring/summer as loose, roomy suits for women. Deliberately outsized, this is about lounging in style, in clothes that are as comfortable as pyjamas but still look pulled together. To maintain the feel, many designs on offer are in gentle greys, blues and ice-cream pastels.
Dries Van Noten, for example, offers an oversized jacket in pale pistachio, while Elie Saab opts for an ombre apricot. As well as the colour, though, the key to this is the tailoring details that elevate it beyond a mere boyfriend jacket. At Jil Sander, a buttermilk suit jacket has hidden pockets at the waist, while Peter Do’s apricot suit arrives with a jacket tucked into double waistband trousers. For all of its laid-back sensibilities, this is still menswear at its finest.
An evolution from last year's purple, the new version is a soft lilac tone, dubbed “digital lavender”. The new colour was seen in many iterations across recent runway shows, showing off the versatility of this elegant shade.
Brandon Maxwell mixes matte and glossy surfaces, with a leather skirt worn with cashmere, while Jason Wu gives it an elevated sheen, as a tightly wrapped dress. Prabal Gurung gives it a cool-girl vibe under an oversized tuxedo, and with high-shine latex trousers, while Victoria Beckham uses it in a lady-like pencil skirt with a train. Showing its punkier side, it was even caught in pinches of cloth at Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood.
One final look set to hark back to the 1990s is the return of cargo detailing. Once the preserve of girl bands with attitude (think Spice Girls, All Saints and TLC), now this military idea has been given a revamp for a newer audience.
Diesel stays with its air force heritage, offering a jumpsuit in parachute silk, while Brandon Maxwell gives it a dressier edge, teamed with a corseted top. Chanel offers an ultra-luxurious version, in raspberry tweed, while Fendi also stays upscale, with glossy satin. Louis Vuitton and Miu Miu have chosen a different tack by slinging pannier bags low around the hips.