The world of runway shows and designer collections can sometimes feel like a distant fantasy reserved for those who have managed to rise through the ranks of the fashion industry, while the rest of us enthusiasts watch from afar (or through our phone screens and Instagram feeds) and marvel at the otherworldly silhouettes of theatrical ball gowns, gilded power suits and myriad other sartorial novelties. When we scroll through endless Instagram stories and images during fashion weeks, sometimes we’re looking to be wowed by such an effulgent array of breathtaking creations that we could only dream of wearing, that are so impeccably crafted that they don’t need to be wearable to be appreciated – but that, when we look to our own wardrobes furnished with comparatively ordinary trappings and encounter the pieces that hang there, won’t make a significant impact on the way we view clothes or the way we get dressed each day.
But most of the time, we’re looking to be inspired, we’re looking for tangible solutions to the conundrum that is getting dressed on a daily basis, for ensembles that could be recreated with clothes we already own or could buy. In other words, sometimes the best shows and collections aren’t always the ones that present the most beautiful and extravagant clothes, but the ones that simply offer subtle styling tips to apply to pre-existing garments in your wardrobe. Beyond abounding maximalist ball gowns and exaggerated textures, the AW2020 runways from New York to Paris played host to plenty of wonderfully wearable ensembles to recreate when you’re feeling limited by your wardrobe.
Veronica Beard’s runway debut unveiled 32 of the most covetable, recreatable and wearable looks not just of New York Fashion Week, but of the whole fashion week season. There was nothing mind-blowing or revolutionary, just a collection of clothes that worked together to conjure something like a real woman’s wardrobe rather than a fantasy runway version of that reality – there were autumnal corduroy separates worn with checked coats, floral printed maxi skirts paired with chunky roll-neck jumpers and double-breasted jackets, and ‘70s-spirited skirts worn with shearling jackets. But the best look to recreate: a zip-up denim boilersuit, worn over a navy Breton stripe turtleneck and finished with a checked blazer.
Michael Kors’ AW20 collection was defined by an ‘escape to the country’ mood, with comfort high on Kors’ priorities list, but not at the sacrifice of polish or glamour. The looks were warming and wholesome – supersized smoke-grey heritage jumpers layered over shimmering metallic pleats, checked scarves worn as outerwear and quilted cashmere sweatshirts. Capes appeared in copious quantities on the runways, so look to Kaia Gerber’s sleek barley-coloured cape worn with a sunset orange turtleneck sweater dress and over-the-knee suede boots for a look that channels a certain countryside comfort.
Victoria Beckham has always had a sensibility for building wardrobes and creating clothes that women actually want to wear, rendered with an elegant simplicity accessible to all women. From argyle knits to tweed overcoats worn with culottes, each ensemble was styled to offer a simple styling template for getting dressed. Imbedded at once with playfulness and practicality, a standout look featured a shetland sweater in a joyful shade of egg-yolk yellow layered over a blue-and-white stripe button-down shirt and paired with a miniature-spotted mini skirt – with pockets for extra functionality.
There’s something satisfyingly put-together-looking about dressing head-to-toe in various hues on the spectrum of a single colour palette. At Alberta Ferretti’s show in Milan, there was plenty of colour-blocking in the form of powerful and practical daywear looks infused with an assertive confidence. Take this candy-coloured purple ensemble, where undulating plissé ruffles adorned with a chunky gold chain choker peeked out from the collar of a chunky rib-knit in a shade of deep violet. Capacious ‘80s-silhouette harem pants were cinched at the waist and tucked into lavender-coloured suede slouchy boots – ubiquitous on the catwalks last autumn, high-knee boots are set to remain a wardrobe mainstay for 2020.
Ever dreamt of wearing your pyjamas to a party? Well, now you can since the look is Miuccia Prada-approved. Prada’s AW20 collection reimagined the suit as elegant silk pyjamas delicately printed with waterlily motifs, peppered with barely-there tasselled heels and a gold logo-embellished headband, offering a take on menswear silhouettes injected with a feminine freshness and glamour.
In her three years at the helm of Chloé, Natacha Ramsay-Levi has consistently grounded the Parisian fashion house’s contribution to fashion in strategically and elegantly executed wearability, woven with an unmistakable ‘70s-bohemian charm. A thigh-high split denim maxi skirt was paired with a rolled-sleeve v-neck cardigan, layered over a buttery checked blouse and finished with seamlessly incorporated Rita Ackermann patches, for a look that exuded a comfortable confidence and ease. Another iteration came in a creamy button-down midi skirt and Fairisle knit combination, once again decorated with ankle socks and brogue-style shoes.
Should you find yourself somewhat dazzled by but lost within what sometimes feels like the dream-like, parallel universe that is the world of designer fashion, these looks might just bring you back to earth and inject a fresh dose of joy into winter dressing.
Words by Ruby McAuliffe
Graphics by Katie Janes
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