We all know that the heat of the summer months is the seasonal prime time for showing off. Fashion magazines obsess over celebrity Instagram updates featuring starlets in cut-out swimsuits and floppy hats, while Facebook is awash with images of our absent friends in maxi-dresses or Hawaiian shirts sunning themselves on far-off shores. We all engage in this mild ogling, and contribute our own holiday snaps with pride. Yet, in practice the summer heat is difficult for fashion; the same mantra is trotted out every year about cut-off Levi’s or floral prints or maxi-skirts and tribal sandals. And to be frank, it’s dull and unhealthy. Summer is not about the clothes, but about the body underneath. And from more than just a fashion perspective, this is an unwholesome obsession. There is so much more that can be done with the thick knits, boots, trousers and coats of fall fashions. While in heat we tend towards dressing uniformly, the colder weather means our focus is once more on the clothes, with the A/W13 collections rich with trends for fall. Too much flesh has been exposed of late, and I for one eagerly await the colder weather and the possibilities it offers to cover up.
Moreover, this year’s collections have a decidedly elegant edge, with a general trend for high necks on coats and jumpers and long hems on skirts and dresses. The long wool dresses at Missoni are a beautiful example of this, both luxe and wintery yet also comfortable. At the Louis Vuitton shows there was also a sense of undress in the lace slips layered under oversized coats, with a flash of collarbone or bare shoulders showing how fall fashions are anything but frumpy. While covering up (and potentially keeping warm) is the order of the season, fashions for fall are not meant to turn you into the Michelin Man; the textures are varied and the silhouettes intriguing. In accord was the general trend for large coats, particularly at Céline and Stella McCartney, with the full shape falling to the knee. Both these collections also offered the more structured styling and a harder kind of femininity that can never quite be achieved with the softer, brighter fabrics of summer fashion.
But what is most gratifying about fall fashions is that cold weather affords you so much more choice in clothes. The showing off becomes increasingly subtle, and once more an advertisement of individuality rather than bare summer bodies. As with summer, winter dressing does still centre on a number of key pieces – most particularly a coat and a pair of boots – but there is simply such a greater range of different styles and fabrics. And with more body to cover, clothes are simply more important in winter. In particular, coats and boots have a pleasingly practical feel, recalling the back-to-school mood of the shift into autumn and the fact that we will actually need them in order to stop ourselves freezing as we brave the frosty mornings. It is these key pieces that also have so much longevity, and become the backbones of a good wardrobe. But beyond these fall fashion essentials the amount of fabric the weather requires us to wear means you have so much more scope for experimentation. Wear midi-skirts, wear long socks, wear lace or wool or silk. Raid your mother’s draws for polo-necks and structured knits, and hunt out vintage stores for that perfect long coat or long-layered skirt.
But do enjoy the sun while it lasts. Take in the last few records of other people’s summertimes spent on beaches and in sunny city centres. But get ready for the winter weather and trends for fall, and the chance to start dressing properly once again.