If “reckless” is the word Gucci’s Alexander Michele uses to describe the manic multi-season fashion industry, it could just as accurately explain the act of buying a new dress for a single occasion. As Michele, Anthony Vaccarello, Marc Jacobs and Dries Van Noten all opt out of the madness, consumers are using this era of Covid-induced contemplation to reassess the relentless cycle that is modern fashion, starting with their own wardrobes.
Seasonless isn’t just an industry buzzword, it’s the kind of dressing we can all practise, especially with tens of resale apps at our fingertips. It has never been so on-trend to be, well, off-trend. Here, slow fashion wardrobe stylist Joanne Gambale shares her seven steps to creating the ultimate seasonless wardrobe.
Step one: look inwards
What do you gravitate towards when you open your wardrobe? Have you ever really considered what cuts suit your shape, what hemlines suit your height, what colour palettes suit your skin tone and what textures you enjoy? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you’re simply not ready for shopping. Trends don’t transform you into the models wearing them. It is okay to dismiss a trend if it doesn’t work for you, but you’ll only really know that with confidence if you get analytical. Rather than making like Marie Kondo and throwing stuff, search only for what you love, bring it out of your wardrobe and ask yourself exactly why you love it. With this knowledge comes the power to avoid trends that don’t align with your inner style guide.
Step two: work your core
Building a long-lasting wardrobe is like making a birthday cake. You can’t just throw the edible glitter onto the kitchen bench and expect it to look good; you need the basic ingredients of the cake first. Search for quiet and quality classics and be willing to spend some dollars. Splashing out on a look-at-me dress for that one event is tempting but ridiculous in today’s climate. Buying a classic Saint Laurent white shirt or a roll-neck Jil Sander jersey will make the rest of your wardrobe work harder for a long time to come. If your budget won’t stretch to these, fear not: every time you pass a charity shop, search for simple, quality plain cotton or silk blouses and merino or cashmere jerseys, tailored pants and classic jeans (you can always have them adjusted to fit). You’ll be amazed at what you find.
Step three: look back
It’s dangerous to start with ‘now’ when you’re trying to ease your reliance on now-fashion. Flicking through old Vogue magazines and watching classic movies is great for style ideas, and if you find the looks still work today, then they’ve passed the seasonless test. I love the rabbit hole that is the Vogue Runway app and recently fell back in love with Phoebe Philo’s first collection for Céline. If you can’t help favouring the latest trends, then know that the latest trend is to (with purpose and attitude) wear out-of-season. Kate Moss has been wearing vintage for years, the red carpets were strewn with vintage gowns this year and almost every member of the Jenner-Kardashian clan has recently worn either vintage Dior, vintage Chanel or vintage Fendi. My go-tos for exceptional or well-priced high-end online vintage clothes are 1st Dibs, Vestiaire Collective, The Real Real and Heroine. Great labels to search include Thierry Mugler, Jean Paul Gaultier, Louis Feraud, Cacharel, Comme des Garçons and Diane Freis.
Step four: take it slowly
The sense of panic induced by big stores wanting your money is much easier to avoid in lockdown, so take advantage of that. Now is your chance to escape the cycle of emotional shopping and last-minute mistakes. Instead, turn your wardrobe into a long-term creative project that requires consideration and planning. Where to start? Experiment with the concept of bespoke via Citizen Wolf’s made-to-order basics, and commission one-offs with small sellers on Etsy and Instagram, such as Anna Cordell Clothing, which creates divine velvet suits in burgundy, royal blue and emerald. Find a good tailor and consider upcycling something you already have. I often swap out the buttons on vintage jackets to freshen the look, or use vintage buttons to make preloved fast fashion more interesting. And if you don’t have the time or creative space in your brain for all of this, hire a slow fashion stylist to do it for you.
Step five: start saving
This exercise is to help you see the true value of clothing. If you usually buy into luxury fashion via bags and shoes, consider a bolder purchase, something for which you’d need to eat baked beans all year, but that would truly make your wardrobe in a way logo-strewn accessories won’t. For me it would be an eccentrically printed Dries Van Noten coat. Search for it like the holy grail and save options in online baskets and wish lists for a good few weeks while you assess your budget. Try Net-a-Porter, MatchesFashion.com and Farfetch, and search the wonderful wares of Gucci, Dries Van Noten, Kenneth Ize and other personal favourites Stella Jean and Vivetta. Visit the bricks and mortar stores if possible to try on these potential heirlooms. While you save and dream, do the more financially achievable step six.
Step six: add vintage
A good portion of the world’s style icons are vintage fans. Dipping into vintage archives not only allows you to avoid trends altogether, but due to the circular nature of fashion it helps you shop sustainably as well. My favourite online vintage stores include Lende, Handpipped, The Crown Street Project and Dolly Up in Australia, and Subrina Heyink Vintage, Desert Vintage, Devore Vintage, Paloma Vintage, Lucky Dry Goods and Hall of Wonders overseas. While fitting into vintage style categories works for some (rockabilly, punk, prep), others enjoy the freedom of avoiding prescribed looks.
Step seven: develop a signature
Every human brain is capable of creativity, and whether we live in the cities or suburbs, we now all have endless avenues down which to find our unique, seasonless looks online. But it can be overwhelming and easy to end up with an in-cohesive wardrobe, and given the busy lives we lead, daily creativity is unrealistic, so I suggest creating a simple signature as a ‘safety net’ look that has guaranteed suave. If you like a good blazer, then make it your thing. Find blazers from different eras, in different shapes, prints and lengths. Throw it over your timeless classics (see step two) and you have a signature that won’t date. Make use of vintage search apps such as Gem to find the specific pieces you love. I’ve always looked for A-line leather skirts that aren’t black, wool kilts, berets, white broderie anglaise, sequin bra tops, Korean embroidery and African wax cloth because I know exactly what I love, entirely irrespective of the year or season.
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