Trick & Treat!

The actual clothes presented on the runways, in and of themselves, are not necessarily the only interesting element of the formal shows. Equally compelling, as far as I’m concerned, is the mood, the attitude, the way the clothes are presented AND the styling tricks employed. By merely thinking out of the box, as the designers often did, you can reinvent and refresh your closet without necessarily buying anything new. Here are some examples from recent runways that might serve as inspiration.

His, Hers, Theirs

Gender bending, gender-neutral fashion has been one of the most pronounced themes this season, and it is not just a passing trend but here to stay. For spring 2019 Haider Ackermann staged his first unisex, double-gender show (the houndstooth trousers worn by the male and female models were all but indistinguishable from one another). The entire wardrobe worn by the male models on the runway of Celine, for Hedi Slimane’s freshman outing, was unisex and will be available for women. At Monse, there were about 12 unisex items inspired by Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia’s male friends who are fans who had already been wearing the women’s pieces.

Timothee Chalamet and Jamie Lee Curtis

So, why not agree to share and swap clothes with your husband, wife, significant other, and partner? You will instantly double your wardrobe. If you are smaller, you get that fashionably oversized look, and if you are larger, you get that always chic shrunken look. If you two are the same size, that’s great but not imperative. Far more important is having a similar aesthetic but either way, it’s a win-win situation. To perfectly illustrate the point, a few weeks ago Jamie Lee Curtis and Timothee Chalamet appeared separately but on the same day, wearing almost identical red pantsuits.

Red Alert

Valentino  spring 2019 ready-to-wear

Nothing packs more or of a wallop than red. The fiery hue has long been a signature of the house of Valentino, and on Pierpaolo Piccioli’s spring 2019 runway there were some beautiful red dresses, both short and long. But what really struck me was the practical way he used just a touch of red (lips, bag, shoes) to make black come alive. We all have something red, and of course, we all have tons of black in our closets, so it’s a simple and easy way to add instant pizazz regardless of the combinations employed.

Scarf Tricks

Marine Serre fall 2018 ready-to-wear

Tying a Hermes scarf around a bag is a forever-chic styling trick and an easy way to incorporate a print or pattern into a solid ensemble. But Marine Serre has taken that a step further and then some. For fall 2018, long scarves dramatically trailed from the models’ heads and Marine used oversized scarves to cover spherical bags that were actually gym balls. For spring 2019, an entire dress was fashioned from pieced together scarves (further accessorized with a scarf printed cap). The 26-year-old who was awarded the 2017 LVMH Prize and launched with spring 2018, has made her innovative way with scarves somewhat of a signature. Maybe she will inspire you to get similarly creative with yours.

DIY Couture

Marine Serre spring 2019 ready-to-wear

About 50 percent of Marine’s spring 2019 collection was made of an upcycled material, and one of the most dramatic pieces was a black opera coat decorated with key fobs. The designer said she was inspired by her grandfather’s key fob collection, but apparently, you can take a favored coat or jacket and use it as a base to personalize by decorating with anything you especially love.

What’s the Use?

Fendi spring 2019 ready-to-wear

Are you a hopeless scatterbrain and routinely lose/misplace your keys, phone, glasses, receipts, tickets, etc.? Turn your personality ‘flaw’ into a fashion statement and do it in style no less. Utilitarian, functional fashion is back with a vengeance for spring 2019. Belt bags, multiple bags, multi-pocketed coats, and jackets were shown on many runways including Chanel and Fendi. Even the most disorganized amongst us will have no excuse to get better organized.


Burberry spring 2019 ready-to-wear

The first look on the Burberry runway in London (it was Riccardo Tisci’s first show for the house) was a classic tan Burberry raincoat. But instead of using a matching self-belt, Riccardo added a wide brown corset-like belt to give it a defined shape really. If you want to change the look of your coats, this is an easy way to do it. Just substitute the belt it came with something broader and more contrasting. It’s an instant shape-changer and a whole new coat.

Be a Visionary

Givenchy spring 2019 ready-to-wear

Near or farsighted? Embrace your imperfect vision and instead of wearing contact lenses, find the most fabulous, statement-making glasses around just like Iris Apfel, who has made her sizeable black owl sized specs a signature. Put these Givenchy frames on, add the earrings, and you are good to go!

Let it Rip

Calvin Klein spring 2019 ready-to-wear

In keeping with the “Jaws” theme for spring 2019, Calvin Klein’s Raf Simons created a skirt with a prominent ‘bite’ taken out of it; presumably by a shark. So, instead of throwing out or donating clothes with moth holes, rips and tears, why not wear them with pride and confidence?

Mix and Clash

Thom Browne  spring 2019 ready-to-wear

If you tend to get dressed hurriedly in the morning, and more often than not, in the dark early morning hours, and sometimes find yourself wearing mismatched socks or shoes, or other combinations that don’t necessarily ‘work,’ don’t let it bother you. There was a lot of clashing and mismatching this season. It was certainly memorable at Thom Browne where almost the entire spring 2019 collection, shown in Paris, was a study in jarringly mismatched colors and prints down to the tights, knee highs, and footwear. You can think about it as crazy mixed up clothes for a crazy mixed up world. Perfect. Or should I say, perfectly imperfect?

In the Clutches

Givenchy spring 2019 ready-to-wear

You don’t need to go out and buy a new clutch bag when you can literally turn your favorited shoulder bag or handbag into one. All you have to do is merely carry it differently. Ignore the strap or handle and hold it tightly against your body the way Clair Waight Keller did on her Givenchy spring 2019 runway.

To Tuck or Untuck

Givenchy spring 2019 ready-to-wear

Another thing Clair Waight Keller did on her recent runway, was to tuck the jackets (tuxedos, leather jacket) into her high waisted trousers. This completely changed the look and gave it a new proportion. If you have the right pieces, this is relatively simple to do yourself.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Comme des Garcons spring 2019 ready-to-wear

If you are always fretting over graying hair and/or a body that is not quite what it used to be, check out Comme des Garcons for spring 2019. Rei Kawakubo’s most recent collection was a self-reflective homage to birth, creation, and aging complete with gray-haired models, whose tummies, in some cases, had added protrusions to make them look pregnant. Who knows, you might even be inspired to stop dying your hair and throw away those Spanx!

Make Leggings – and Bicycle Shorts- Great Again

Chanel spring 2019 ready-to-wear

Perhaps you are among those who think that common every day black leggings are only gym and jog appropriate. And just the thought of tight bicycle shorts immediately calls to mind Kim Kardashian West. Guess what? You just might want to rethink after Karl Lagerfeld’s chic makeover for both on his beach like spring 2019 runway. Even if kicking off your shoes is not practical, you can imbue an easy beachy informality to your most formal jackets (tweed or otherwise) by pairing them with leggings or bicycle shorts instead of opting for a skirt, trousers, or jeans.

Speaking of tricks and making something great again, if only someone could “Make the Presidency Great Again and turn Donald Trump into a true leader. Now, that would really be some great trick!

And finally, sneakers: trick OR treat? A little of both I suppose. Some undeniably look like they could be part of a Halloween costume.

I will preface this by saying that I am an avowed sneakerhead who has literally lost count of how many I own. I have high tops and low tops, solids, and patterns, I have white, red and black sneakers. I have sneakers that are unisex and generic (Vans, Converse Chuck Taylor, Adidas) and sneakers with designer labels. Some that are plain and some that are embellished. I have some that are single soled and some that are platformed. Some that slip on and some that lace up. What ties them together is that they are all comfortable and ‘cool’ in their own way.

I read with interest Vanessa Friedman’s article, “Season of Peak Sneaker Silliness,” October 18th. Yes, I agree that the sneaker “silliness” has gotten a bit out of hand these days, but that is always the case when something in fashion reaches such heights of popularity. But I don’t think the bubble has necessarily ‘burst’ on them either because as Ms. Friedman also pointed out, once a woman gets used to comfort, it is tough to go back.

I contend that there is a time and place for everything: pointy-toed stilettos, block heeled loafers, mannish oxfords, demure kitten heels, ballerinas, tall boots, booties, elegant boots, rugged boots, and yes, sneakers. It isn’t a one or another proposition. One category does not replace the other. They each serve different purposes and create a different mood, look, and proportion. And each is a valid part of a well-balanced wardrobe.

Although Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia showed nothing but pointy-toed boots and pumps on his recent runway, as Ms. Friedman pointed out, and there seems to be a return to formalization, let’s face it, there is also a time and place to be more casual. Who wants to wear high heels all the time? In the same way, I would never wear sneakers with formal attire, I also would not run errands, or run through an airport wearing sky-high stilettos.

The bottom line is that it all depends on what you need, what look you are going for, and the appropriateness to an occasion. It’s up to the customer to reject ugly sneakers (with price tags that insult the intelligence to boot) and select the ones that make sense for them.

– Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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