Dresses short enough to make a hooker blush, pants that would make most women’s legs look like they’re packed in sausage casing, and bubble skirts that Dorothy could use to fly home from the Emerald City.
What does all of this mean to you, the everyday shopper? Everything, and nothing.
While the catwalks have long dictated the important colors, fabrics and silhouettes for a season, they also have intimidated women by showcasing styles only matchstick-thin models could consider wearing and only trust-fund trollops could fathom purchasing.
So what’s a regular girl to do?
According to Nordstrom fashion director Gregg Andrews, she should take cues from the high-profile shows while not feeling pressured to sport the same looks.
“The runway is a great place for women to look for inspiration, it’s a great place for them to look for direction, but they don’t need to take what they see on the designer runways literally,” Andrews says.
That’s because designers pepper their shows with pieces they have no intention of ever manufacturing. The looks are simply too labor-intensive and expensive to produce. Designers simply want their collections to reflect their theories on the current direction of fashion.
Did you hear that, you crestfallen, not-so-skinny women who have littered the dressing rooms after trying to pack yourselves into pairs of lean jeans or leggings. It’s time to take heart. According to Andrews, your next pair of jeans doesn’t have to be skinny, although it shouldn’t be bootleg, either. Go ahead and buy those skinny jeans, but just wear them correctly.
Macy’s West fashion director Tifani Wilt shares that opinion. She believes the style can be worn by the majority of women as long as they recognize what works for their figures.
“Wear a longer top over it or something with a lot more volume,” Wilt offers. “Or wear it with the jean tucked into a boot so you will get a little bit of balance at the bottom.”
Plenty of camouflage optionsFortunately, there will be even more to choose from next spring to wear over the sometimes feared, sometimes fabulous skinny jean, with short, swingy baby doll and trapeze dresses having sprung from the loins of the majority of designers showing in Bryant Park.
The hemlines have shot up a bit, so be sure to do a few extra squats at the gym if you’re going to go bare.
And busty ladies, beware.
You could end up looking like you are wearing a pup tent if these loose styles don’t hang nicely off “the girls.” If you’re filling a D-cup, look for a dress with a high waist that will allow for a lot of swing, but will still give you some definition below the bust.
Just about the only thing that can be taken verbatim from the big shows is the importance of the color palette.
A lot of nudes, sands and neutrals, which can be tough colors to wear, have surfaced over the past week. A good trick to wearing these and avoiding looking washed out is to put on a pretty, feminine nude cami or blouse under a little suit jacket that has more color. You don’t have to wear a single color from head to toe to be of the moment.
However, there is even more room for bucking the trends, according to Andrews.
“Several years ago, women were very vocal about the fact that they didn’t want to be dictated to,” he says. “They wanted to have options and they wanted the designers to meet their needs. If you think back to the ‘80s, and if you didn’t want to wear magenta or cobalt blue, you really didn’t have any choices.
“But now, we have dark color, we have rich color, we have black and white, we have red. So there is definitely something out there for everybody. It’s not just about these three or four pieces or one or two colors. There are definitely essential pieces you’ll want to use to update your wardrobe, but there are so many different versions of those items.”
So when should you stock up on those essential items and what should they be?
The Spring ’07 collections will start populating the racks toward the end of February, and that’s when you should look to buy, even if it's not quite tank-top season.
“The idea is that you’re looking ahead, so even though the weather may not be saying that it’s time to wear spring in February, you’re looking to what you want to add to your existing spring wardrobe to update it,” Andrews says. “You’re looking to what are your wardrobe needs. Do you have special occasions coming up, are you in a new job, are you traveling? So you’re looking ahead and purchasing ahead of time.”
Sometimes even the best game plan can go awry, though. If you find that you’re having a Paris Hilton moment and need to drop a load of cash on a single item, the experts say go for something practical and pretty like an oh-so-now oversized handbag.
Another smart buy would be something classic, like a shirtdress that you can wear to work or shake it in on a Friday night.
Also, make a rule of taking something you normally wouldn't wear back to the dressing room with you. It’s good to know what works for you, but don’t get stuck in a rut.
“Fashion should be fun. It’s a way to express yourself,” Andrews says. “It’s a way to make a personal statement, and so I think it’s wonderful when women experiment with a new piece or a new item. In order to make these things work, you need to look in the mirror, you always need to address the fit, and you need to address what’s really flattering to your body.”
So no matter what your shopping bags are loaded down with when you leave the stores, remember Wilt’s words of caution: “I think sometimes people try to wear too many trends at once instead of updating their wardrobe with one trend here, one trend there,” she says. “Don’t wear every new trend head to toe.”