Feel the pulse. Soak up the energy. You are finally back into the groove after a relaxing summer. Where to next? Here are the essential items and inspirations of the new season.
THE COOL KNIT
There’s something in its laidback sex appeal that makes the cool knit such a hit right now. Look at Marilyn Monroe on the beach in 1962 in a cosy cardigan, Nastassja Kinski in a fluffy pink sweater for Paris, Texas in 1984, or even Nicholas Hoult’s angora in Tom Ford’s A Single Man from 2009. Knits come at two for the price of one in fashion: they can be alluring and keep you cuddled up. Who can argue with that kind of double whammy? The new thing about knits for now is how cool they feel. They should be worn in the effortless way of the nonchalant French girl, as if you’ve just thrown on the nearest thing to the bed. Then you can add whatever suits your mood or personality: trainers, heels, skinny jeans. Just make sure the knit is in pole position.
Forget about any associations with tiny tots or Super Mario – this season, the all-in-one overall is an up-to-date wardrobe staple. Dungarees have rapidly become the cool girl’s go-to layering piece, worn over vintage tees, vest tops or polonecks for an instant hit of trend appeal, and they’ve come a long way since their 1990s grunge heyday. Look to Diane Kruger, Jessica Alba and Emma Watson for style inspo in blue denim or crisp black cotton.
What gives the new dungaree a really fresh feel is its modern, feminine shape. It’s no longer all about utility pockets and androgynous charm. Your main options for autumn are as follows: sleek and tailored with a full length 1970s flare (see Dakota Johnson and Kate Bosworth for fashionable figure-hugging proof), or else laidback and casual, in a slightly oversized fit for a fresh girlie vibe. That’s all you need to know to join the cool girl pack!
THE BUCKET BAG
Handbags are the workhorse of any outfit. Some say they even make an outfit. But let’s all agree on one thing: for everyday wear, we want something practical but that fits any look, from boho babe to Parisian chic. Enter the bucket bag. While a satchel has distinct schoolgirl overtones, and rigidly structured bags veer into the prim and proper zone, the bucket bag is casual, cool and very now.
Louis Vuitton’s grandson Gaston-Louis is credited with designing one of the first modern bucket bags, back in the 1930: one to transport exactly five bottles of bubbly. The bucket bag as we know it today, however, evokes the duffel bags used by sailors in WWII – drawstring, shoulder strap and sturdy base – but adapted to handbag size.
It’s this universally appealing shape that is key to the bucket bag’s appeal. There’s room for all your essentials (and often more!), and you can simply throw it over your shoulder and go. And because it does well in everything from leather to canvas and even silk brocade, there’s definitely a bucket bag out there ready to work for you.
No, it’s not the Little Black Dress that’s on our minds this autumn, but rather the LongBlack Dress. The cocktail-hour qualities of the former LBD are old news – far more appealing is the chameleon-like feel of the new version. In fact, it’s hard to think of a setting or time when the Long Black Dress Iooks out of place. As long as the piece itself is kept minimal (giving it an effortless flair) yet not too casual fabric-wise (so that it doesn’t feel like an old rag you just found at the back of your closet), it will take you from swanky hotel breakfast to office meeting to late-night dinner without ever making you uncomfortable. You could even stop by a picnic in the park, should you be invited to one!
The Long Black Dress is the ultimate basic. Think of the way it can change: a coloured biker jacket makes it urban and fashionable, flat shoes bring out its casual side, and a beautiful statement necklace will turn up the glam factor. In the end, the new LBD is just what you make of it. Whether you’re a minimalist or a boho addict, there’s no risk of this dress wearing you, as opposed to the other way around.
The parka is a bona fide fashion classic, up there with the camel coat or the perfect pair of beaten-up biker boots. It has the capacity to bring an edge of easy cool to any outfit, and works as well slipped over a party frock as with cut-offs and wellies in the mud of a summer festival. This season, you want your parka to have a “borrowed from the boys” kind of feel – think Kate Moss whisking Jamie Hince’s favourite jacket out for a night on the tiles, or Jane Birkin cuddled up in a vintage treasure Serge Gainsbourg found at a Parisian flea market. There’s something inherently rock ’n’ roll about the parka. Never too precious, it speaks of adventure, fun and a devil-may-care attitude, just like the woman who wears it.
THE A-LINE SKIRT
Ever since Mary Quant popularised it in the 1960s, a short skirt has been part of our daily wardrobe. It’s now as standard as a pair of jeans. A way to add a kick comes with an A-line cut. It turns something unremarkable into something pleasingly girlish, especially when paired with button-through fastenings. Cord, suede and denim work well for the kind of look that Alexa Chung would be proud of – a bit 1960s ingénue, with a dash of 1990s thrift-store style. It's the kind of item that easily melds decades to nail modern dressing. Ideas for how to wear it? Pair with a tight-fitting jumper, sheer tights and a cropped jacket. Or perhaps ankle boots for a very now autumn uniform – with eyeliner and tousled hair for the full shebang.
With the 1970s still very much in focus for the season, it’s unsurprising that flares are the trouser shape to sport right now. If denim conveys a “strolling down to the beach” sort of mood, a flared trouser is a smarter take on the trend, and brings fashion’s current favourite decade onto the city streets. Worn with a nipped-in blouse and high platforms, flares bring to mind the classic Charlie scent advert, in which an independent woman strides down the street, the world at her feet. It’s not all nine to five, though; this is a look that works for evening, too. Draped flared trousers are very Bianca Jagger at Studio 54 – pair them with a scrappy camisole and delicate gold jewellery.