Turning Tricks from the Runways

Dries Van Noten Spring 2020 Ready-to-Wear
Photos by Vogue.com

The actual clothes on the runways are not the only interesting elements of the formal shows. Equally compelling, if not more so, is the mood, the attitude, the way the clothes are presented AND the styling tricks employed. By merely thinking out of the box, you can reinvent and refresh your closet without necessarily buying anything new.

All fashion shows have the potential to be fertile ground for inspiring styling tricks, but some more so than others. There’s almost no designer whose runways are more rousing from a creative point of view, than Dries Van Noten. Dries routinely mixes day and evening, street and couture, masculine and feminine, high and low, humble, and fanciful.

The result is a personal, individual, idiosyncratic way of dressing that is a little bit ‘off’. It is perfectly imperfect, which looks uniquely modern right now. Dries’s collaboration with Christian Lacroix this season was particularly inspired.

Dries Van Noten Spring 2020 Ready-to-Wear

Nothing could be more humble than a pure white Hanes tank, and nothing could be more classic than white jeans. We might have these wardrobe basics in our closets, but most of us may not have thought the combo could be the basis of a dramatic evening look.


In Dries’s hands they are, thanks to the addition of trailing ribbons, a touch of fur, a perfectly placed feather, a tuxedo jacket, a flounced overskirt, and the dash of fuchsia satin, floral brocade, and gold metallic accessories.

Dries Van Noten Spring 2020 Ready-to-Wear

Equally inspired is the way Dries utilized sweaters that have the look and ease of a sweatshirt. The designer contrasted them with something more fanciful, like a floral brocade ball skirt or fuchsia satin pants with side ruffles. The result looks effortless yet entrance-making.

Junya Watanabe Spring 2020 Ready-to-Wear

Junya Watanbe is the ultimate trickster. This season, he dipped into his bag of tricks and worked his magic on the classic double-breasted trench. You may not want to turn yours into a ball gown, a ball skirt, a pinafore dress, a cape, or a kilt as Junya did, but the designer might inspire you to rethink this perennial wardrobe mainstay and see it in a new light.

Hellessy Spring 2020 Ready-to-Wear

Denim was all over the runways, and using jeans as the basis for a versatile, day to evening outfit is certainly nothing new. But the playful attitude they take at Hellessy looks fresh. Here, the jeans are lightly faded and distressed and are trimmed with grosgrain and silk satin ribbons that fall past the hem to create movement as you walk. By offhandedly juxtaposing those with something more dressed up and feminine, Sylvie crafts a modern mix.

Hellessy Spring 2020 Ready-to-Wear

Combined with a slouchy ivory silk kimono, cool flat boots, and mismatched earrings, the rolled hem, slightly baggy jeans create a casual look perfect for entertaining at home. It’s a DIY look that is easy to replicate.

Alexander McQueen Spring 2020 Ready-to-Wear

Mixing fantastical evening wear with razor-sharp tailoring is a perfect way to mix masculine and feminine, and it is perhaps one of the oldest tricks in the book. Guess what? It never gets old, and it is somewhat of a calling card for Alexander McQueen’s Sarah Burton.

Valentino Spring 2020 Ready-to-Wear

And finally, footwear is the ultimate styling trick; it changes everything. If you had to buy one thing this spring, it would have to be a flat form or flat sandal, preferably one in gold. It is the ultimate neutral, and it goes from day to evening. Roman sandals looked especially good.

For those women who are afraid they won’t look tall enough in flats, read on. The best piece of advice about flats versus high heels is courtesy Ines de la Fressange from her book, “Parisian Chic.” Yeah, I know she is not only drop-dead gorgeous, but she is also at least 6 feet tall, so she is always taller than almost everyone and can easily make a case for just wearing flats day and night.

Regardless, she is one of the all-time chicest gals around and wisely dispensed with these words of wisdom:

“Many women think they look better in heels, but this is quite wrong. Just ask any man. No man would ever say, “I’d love you more if you were four inches taller! Nothing looks worse than a girl tottering about on unmanageable heels! The key to sex appeal is a feline walk, not a precarious wobble.”

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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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