The bastards rejoice! In 2023, looking terrible will be the pinnacle of fashion | Morwenna Ferrier

OWithout saying the obvious, something weird is happening in fashion: it goes out the window. It was during the parades last September that I noticed it for the first time. For the most part, the clothes — which were for Spring 2023 — were works of art. But many of them also seemed deranged. Dresses full of holes at Chloé, bright crochet tops ripped at the seams at Marni, bras made from handbags at Givenchy and almost everywhere, pants so wide they seemed to swallow shoes. It wasn’t a mess, but it was messy.

It’s normal to be wary of the idea that fashion trends predict the future. This can all get very “hem index” – that is, the theory that short skirts are in vogue during boom times, and the longer they get, the more miserable the outlook. Sometimes a coat is just a coat. The amount of men’s underwear sold is not a perfect indicator of the direction of the economy. But as I watched one model in particular wear an impossibly long eggplant-colored dress that wrapped precariously around her heels, he honestly seemed to be saying – with a clipped French accent – that the economy, like the model, is not s would not simply collapse. , but would also struggle to get up quickly.

Trends come and go, but clothes, like sports, music or art, reflect the societies they come from – and if the world is falling apart, at some point you’ll probably see that reflected in this that people wear. Take Portia, the icon of chaos from the second series of The White Lotus, a kind of Annie Hall dreamed up by TikTok. Also watch Katie Holmes, channeling her Y2K Dawson’s Creek days in sparkly frayed-hem jeans on a red carpet; Michelle Obama on a book tour wearing a Marine Serre silk dress that someone had cut up the top; Julia Fox wears one made of leaves! And the self-proclaimed “hot and ugly fashion girl” Meg Superstar Princess, wearing trucker caps and whatever she wants. Just this morning I walked past a girl wearing a red skirt over jeans over barely visible teal tights. Whether she wore designer clothes or just dressed in the dark, I have no idea. But that’s probably the idea.

Of course, that helps naming the beast, and “schlumpy” is how White Lotus costume designer Alex Bovaird describes Portia, the poster girl for that move. Caught somewhere between “random California” and “a Coachellan hangover,” much of what drives his character — and this trend — is circumstance. Portia doesn’t have a look, she simply has a collection of various moods, the clothing equivalent of the human condition. From her bizarre slogan sweaters, the incomprehensibly skimpy cardigan over a bikini top that clashes with a beach bar, to the strapless bra and matching flare combo she wore on the town with her Essex boy, Lothario Jack, “sometimes she doesn’t. care…but sometimes she definitely has [does]Bovaird told me. She is also skint. All in all, he’s someone most of us can relate to.

“If the world is falling apart, at some point you’ll probably see that reflected in what people are wearing.” Julia Fox in New York. Photography: Rachpoot/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

This mish-mash look is also what Sean Monahan alluded to in his June 2021 Substack essay, Vibe Shift. A trend forecaster who was part of the collective that correctly predicted normcore 10 years ago, Monahan says we are due to a new cultural movement. We had hipsters, then we had hypebeasts and now we have… whatever. The term “mood change” has been analyzed in every medium imaginable, though it took off when New York magazine decided to unbox it. For Monahan, it could be “a return to a more fragmented culture,” a return to “naughty naughty nostalgia,” a return to rock music, and a return to irony. He admits he hasn’t quite figured out what that means for clothes, but one thing’s for sure: we won’t be queuing for sneakers anymore.

Of course, no trend happens in a vacuum and for many of us, a throwback to early 2000s nostalgia – whether it’s sleaze indie, or late grunge, or just plain old schlumpy – can’t come soon enough. Fashion has spent the past few years beleaguered by a sort of hyper-organised, flat, risk-averse millennial aesthetic. Bodycon dresses, Skims underwear and matchy-matchy sets in powdery shades of lilac and green; clothes without edges, or at least with one that had been smoothed by Botox.

Algorithmically designed and internet driven, this look seemed to arrive with an inherent penchant for giving people what everyone else had. Clothes didn’t always cost the earth (much of that aesthetic is driven by fast fashion), and they didn’t always look neat. But somehow, going through your feed, they looked like they were part of a magically cool, tastefully decorated tribe that you had no way of getting into.

Fast forward to now and, Given the state of the economy and the climate, it’s not just hard to look like this; It’s strange. Enter the schlumpiness, which isn’t just about saying no to trends, fast fashion and hyper-consumerism, it’s a complete about-face – and a wholesome one at that. (It also helps that the best way to “get the schlumpy look” is to dig the rails at thrift and charity stores rather than online at Shein.)

Plus, this whole vibe just so happens to converge really well with the Oxford word of the year: “goblin mode.” It is, among other things, about “consciously rejecting social norms or expectations” – which, from a sartorial point of view, means taking advantage of the chaos for tastes. It may seem gloomy. But as the word “fashion” suggests, it’s quite deliberate. Could it be that after spending the past five years staring at Emily Ratajkowski’s abs and Kim Kardashian’s waistline, we’re tired of trying to look the part?

Like the most ubiquitous trends, this one is ambient, but it is happening slowly but surely. The same way we all suddenly woke up in Birkenstock jogging bottoms and clogs in July 2020 – largely due to the pandemic – I have a funny feeling that in the spring of 2023 we’ll all wake up feeling like we were styled by crypto bro Sam Bankman-Fried, as if dressing up in schlubby t-shirts and shorts was less about working from home and more about an act of defiance.

Of course, a big part of this style comes down to taste. As my mom used to say of my trailing flares in the mid 90s, “they don’t do anything for you”, to which I would reply “yeah, mom, that’s the point”.

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