Guess what, everyone? It is now spring. Yes, really.
This is the point where the weather changes from rain, floods, bitter cold and the ever-present prevailing winds to rain, floods, bitter cold, prevailing winds and fifteen minutes of sunshine every second day. It’s not so much a silver lining as an aluminium foil lining, but we’ll take what we can get.
Fashion week is starting in London and the whole industry is going about its biannual process of renewal. Which trends do we dump? Which do we adopt? It hardly seems to matter when the weather rarely changes.
Last year was an unusually temperate one in Britain and Ireland. Hot and cold spells were harsh but fleeting – the rest of the time our isles were cloaked in a grey fug, temperature solidified somewhere in the teens. It’s this strange circumstance that has had far-reaching consequences in places we wouldn’t normally bother looking, like in our local high street stores.
Every spring, the same trends are trotted out by merit of their association to the season, usually pastels and floral prints. This fact is so widely known that when Meryl Streep (as caricature-scary magazine editor Miranda Priestly in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’) sarcastically drawled “Florals? For Spring? Groundbreaking”, a million lovers of a frankly not-great film chuckled knowingly.
Something has happened this year. No florals. No pastels. The ground is not barren but it has lost its fecund quality. We have prints, but they are geometric and abstracted. Pastels are more likely to be worn on the nails and no other part of the body. Everything is a little bit off-kilter, a little more jarring and apocalyptic. I like it. It shows that there’s still an element of chaos in the world no matter how hard we try to mould it to our liking.
Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter trends exist for a several reasons. 1) To make people feel hopelessly inadequate about being up to date so they’ll buy more clothes, making retailers and suppliers more money. 2) Because, in Winter it is (supposed to be) cold and in Summer is is warm (or so I have heard) and people need two sets of wardrobes for two sets of weather systems.
The third reason is the most common-sense, but the least obvious. Spring trends emerge even when we don’t particularly want or need them because human beings can’t live without progress. We always have to feel like we’re heading towards something. Spring is the time we slough off our insulating winter shells and emerge, if not as butterflies, then as moths with the best of intentions.
The best approach to Spring trends is to tread carefully. Only buy what you need, and don’t feel obligated to bare your legs just because it’s almost March. Spring into Spring by all means, but don’t push yourself – it’s far too easy to Splat into Spring instead.