As the timer runs out on 2017 and we reflect on the year that was, it’s fair to say it’s been nothing if not exhausting.
It may seem facile to embark on a fashion retrospective, but for many of us, fashion offers an escape from the awfulness that has engulfed our world.
For women, it’s the armour we wear into battle every goddamn exhausting day of our exhausting goddamn lives.
So is it too much to ask that, at a time like this, fashion might try to make our lives a little easier?
Don’t get me wrong, 2017 produced some stellar wardrobe builders I’ll happily carry into the new year, but for every newfound staple, there are other developments which have been… questionable, to say the least.
Take fur shoes. No please, take them and put them on the garbage pile of 2017 along with Harvey Weinstein.
One pass of a sticky dance floor and they’re basically fit for the bin; and in a country as wet as Ireland they can only reasonably be filed under ‘are you actually kidding me?’
Like the year’s other dubious trends, you have to wonder if they’ve been designed with real women in mind?
Exhibit B: jumbo pastel fur coats. Sure, they look amazing on street style superstars like Giovanna Battaglia as she dashes from FROW to FROW, but can we actually wear them here without looking like literal Muppets; and what would they do to our dry cleaning bills?
On the other hand, maybe you’re on first name terms with your dry cleaner and you want the world to know it?
If so, you’ve probably embraced the extra long trousers championed by Victoria Beckham this season.
If not, tread carefully, for you tread on your own expensive wool pants.
Perhaps I’m too practical, or maybe it’s a sign that you’ve aged out of transient trends when you look at a season’s supposed must haves and think, “Could I be bothered?”
It’s not just the clothes that baffled this year, it’s the increasing complexity of how we’re supposed to wear them, thanks to the growing influence of those street style stars. They chose their outfits for maximum attention, but they don’t have to think beyond the few minutes it takes to photograph them.
There’s a reason Olivia Palermo made ‘shrobing’ a thing, and it’s not because it’s chic. It’s because wearing your jacket on your shoulders reveals your outfit — essential when you’ve made a career out of what you wear. ‘Shrobe’ in real life though, and you’ll pick your jacket off the ground 10 times in five minutes.
The good news is, ‘shrobing’ has evolved. The bad news is, it’s gotten even more ridiculous.
With the primary goal of showcasing what’s under your outerwear, fashion developed the exposed shoulder — where belted coats have their collars pushed halfway down the arms — and the half-on, half-off look — where the open coat rests in the crook of the wearer’s elbows, where once her It bag used reside.
The former says, “I can’t take my coat off because it took 45 minutes to put on”; the latter says, “I’m so fancy I don’t need my arms.”
This winter, exposed shoulder innovators Balenciaga showed coats resembling the efforts of a three-year-old trying to dress themselves for the first time, so we’ve gone from looking like you can’t keep your coat on to looking like you’re incapable of putting your coat on.
What does it say about us that we find either option worthy of imitation? Can’t we just wear our damn coats?
Or better yet, can’t we say, ‘Enough’? Enough of trends that only work for a 30-minute parade in the Jardin des Tuileries. Real women with real jobs and real places to go demand clothes that work for them, not the other way around.
So next season, if fashion throws some nonsense at you, join me in asking yourself, “Could I be bothered?”
Could I be bothered sculpting my coat into origami folds that hang artfully off my shoulders? No I couldn’t.
Would my neck be cold? Yes it would. Could I be bothered with trousers that pool around my feet in luxurious folds? Nope! Will they get dragged though puddles and trip me up? Probably!
Could I be bothered tying a jumper diagonally across my body? Wearing a bum bag across my chest? Lacing a corset OVER my coat?
Could I be bothered with sleeves down to my ankles? No! I find my hands incredibly useful for tragically unglamorous tasks like getting my LEAP card out of my bag and blowing my nose.
Honestly, if we made a fashion time capsule for this year and someone dug it up 50 years from now, they’d be forgiven for thinking the women of 2017 had found a way to manage quite well without the use of their limbs.
Fashion has become less about ‘would you wear it?’ and more about ‘could you wear it?’, giving a whole new meaning to the term ‘fashion victim’.
Street style is more influential than ever, but as it becomes ever more self-serving and impractical, why are we allowing ourselves be dictated to by glorified mannequins for whom a good photo trumps wearability? Seriously. Could you be bothered?
And just wait for spring. Take note of these questionable trends, and again, ask yourself: could you be bothered?
They’re calling them ‘power pastels’, but is there really anything powerful about head-to-toe lavender? Even in the hands of Victoria Beckham, it feels like a washout.
If ever two words didn’t belong together, it’s ‘tailored’ and ‘denim’, yet the fashion gods have decreed we go full Timberlake with denim suits this spring. Has Tom Ford lost the plot?
There were nipples aplenty on the SS18 catwalks, but what will the street style set do when Instagram objects to them showing theirs off? #freethenipple? Not for me, thanks.
All hail the practicality of wipeable fabrics, but this trend should be approached with caution. When head-to-toe vinyl meets spring’s Crayola-bright colours, the results are hazard zone chic!
Fashion Crocs, jumpers tied like straitjackets, binding the arms to the torso, and coats hanging from the neck by detached collars. Repeat after me: Could. You. Be. Bothered?