Predicting Fashion's Biggest Clothing, Accessories, & Industry Trends Of 2017

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Update: This post was originally published on December 23, 2016.
Fashion has always been sensitive to the whims of the world — they teach that stuff in history books. So, if you can find out the state of the economy by looking at the length of hemlines, what fashion trends are going to give away some of the biggest social, political, and cultural shifts our country has undergone in a decade? And, if it takes six months on average between an idea and an actual garment, we should be seeing a rash of way-brand-new things hitting stores in about four months.
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But to look ahead means also taking stock at where we are now. In 2016, the fashion industry dipped into three decades for explicit inspiration — the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, where roller-disco bohemian, Dynasty opulence, and skater grunge filled the racks of every single store. There was also a strong theme of “you do you” outside of whatever norms society expects of you, which meant more non-gendered clothing, and more statement pieces for women in expanded sizes and ages. Though 2016 was a singular year because of the tragedies that marred it, the fashion was defiant — more often than not, it was optimistic, too.
But will that optimism extend into 2017? It’s hard to say, but I’ve made a few predictions about the trends that’ll become popular, the ways the industry will respond to society, and a couple big moments that might change the way that we do — or see — things. Here are my bets for the year ahead.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Melania will wear an American designer to the inauguration

The presidential inauguration process is a fairly involved one. Designers send sketches to the White House, and if picked, versions of the gowns are sent to the First Lady who’ll choose one for the evening’s events. But, Melania Trump has had an unconventional relationship with the fashion industry — most designers have declined to lend her clothing for the campaign, and have come out on record as being cautious (though not entirely unwilling) to dress Melania as First Lady.

But the inauguration will be her first moment to say something with her clothing as representative of her husband’s new agenda. Her choices in the past have typically included European luxury designers, bought off the rack, but that would send a conflicting and pessimistic message as her first gown of choice. She has to wear American, and it’d be too much of a snub to do otherwise.

The choices are probably few. Tommy Hilfiger has come out as most interested in dressing the first lady, though the label is not well known for its evening wear. Ralph Lauren is another choice, though the brand’s deep relationship with Hillary Clinton during the election might be a stumbling block. Carolina Herrera might also be a contender, and as a fellow immigrant woman, offer obvious parallels. But if Trump is looking to buy off the rack, any designer might be up for grabs including Calvin Klein, Tom Ford, Vera Wang, or Marc Jacobs — even those whose company missions seem misaligned with Trump’s.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Chainmail details will become the cool-girl accessory

It’s not a coincidence that three people in my life — who I consider to be soothsayers of fashion — have been talking about, or have picked up chainmail-esque pieces. More involved than a body chain and less Burning Man than a mesh bra, these pieces aren’t exactly sexy. They’re a touch Joan of Arc, and a touch punk defiance, and a clever way to bring in hardware, and glimmer, and jewelry into your outfit in an entirely non-obvious way. It’s literal armor, in a time when many women feel vulnerable.

This trend has been around in the accessories space for a few years now, with Alexander Wang’s woven-ball motif, Paco Rabanne’s pierced-metal bags, and Zana Bayne’s bondage signatures. But, I expect to be seeing actual garments made of metal in the form of long tunic vests, bib-like tops, and skirt overlays.
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Rachel Comey Chain Top, $299, available at Rachel Comey.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Big shoulders (in all forms) will be this year’s version of no shoulders

If there was one trend that was more ubiquitous this summer than any other, it was the off-the-shoulder blouse. Flattering on everyone — though sort of a bitch to wear — the off-the-shoulder boho top tapped into easy vibe of romance that everyone was chasing this summer. It made its wearer look pretty and delicate, which is reason enough for something to catch on as a massive trend.

But for this year, the top of choice still recalls the kind of bucolic vibes of the off-the-shoulder top, but is layers more challenging. Jacquemus’ last collection drew wide acclaim and was full of beautiful cotton tops cut in a pastoral fashion, featuring broad shoulders, ultra-wide yokes, and ballooning upper sleeves. The effect is a woman puffed up and taking up room.

On the other side of the spectrum, many designers went the ‘80s route and riffed on pointed, severe shoulders for after-hours partying. Less Working Girl, these shoulders do much of the same thing, except it replaces a Jane Austen innocence with a Pat Benatar sneer.
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Reformation Celestia Top, $128, available at Reformation.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Silver will replace gold as the layering jewelry of choice

Gold chains, gold stacking rings, gold earrings, gold layered necklaces… gold has been dominating our wrists, fingers, and necks for a decade. But, along with the other ‘90s fashion resurgences, I expect that the kind of utilitarian silver jewelry that was ubiquitous during that decade will find a new audience.

The 2017 version might not necessarily be dog tags and ball-bearing chokers, but silver will crop up in ways that feel less precious than what we’ve been seeing in gold. There’s something about silver that feels more practical and more tough than sunny, shiny gold. Silver isn’t as valuable, not as popular — it’s got second-child syndrome. And that kind of scrappiness and underdog feel makes it a compelling choice.
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The Academy Signet Ring, $125, available at The Academy.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
People (en masse) will begin paying attention to the modest fashion movement

It could be a faith thing. It could be an age thing. It could just be that your work demands it or that it’s a personal preference. Whatever it is, there’s a strong need right now for clothing that’s got longer hemlines, longer sleeves, and higher necklines. Frankly, if you look at the main deliveries of most fast-fashion and designer brands, you’ll find that the majority of it is already modest. It just doesn’t label itself as that.

Though modest fashion seems like a strict doctrine, it’s actually pretty simple, but because it uses the word “modest,” many people ascribe certain non-aesthetic attributes to it — that these clothes need to be drab and boring, for one. And secondly, that women who wear them believe that they’re more moral because they show less skin.

For the modest movement to really become a mass movement, it needs to shed these two assumptions. Right now, there are cult modest labels who cater to the growing community of incredibly stylish modest fashion bloggers. To reach the next level like its plus-size sisters have, modest fashion will have to make the rightful claim that it’s good business as well. Between the huge amounts of faith-based consumers as well as women who just like the way it looks, the modest market has the potential to be a multi-billion dollar industry.
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Artizara Victoria Pleated Long Tunic Dress, $42, available at Artizara.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
The platform shoe will make a big return

I forgot how much I pined for platform shoes until I saw Leandra Medine’s velvet-blue, star-studded Man Repeller platform shoe. I doubt I’m the only one who feels that way. Platform shoes were fun to wear, easy to walk in, and hyper-boosted an outfit’s style quotient. With all the other ‘70s and ‘90s comebacks, why hasn’t the platform replaced the single-soled shoe yet?

It’s already begun to happen on the runways, though the actual effects of it haven’t yet trickled down into stores. Gucci’s most photographed shoe from the past year was a rainbow-layered platform shoe. Marc Jacobs’ comically tall platforms were an editorial hit, appearing in the pages of every single fashion magazine, though you see them rarely in real life. I have a good feeling (and a selfish motive) that the platform will become a hit again in 2017.
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MR By Man Repeller Lol If You Think I’m Walking embellished velvet platform sandals, $520, available at Net-A-Porter.
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Rochas Satin Platform Sandals, $271, available at Farfetch.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Fast-fashion collabs will start to disappear

Designer collaborations with H&M and Target have been frequent and furious for almost the past decade. It was many shoppers’ first real-life introductions with luxury labels, and a way to learn about its designs, its signatures, and its point of view that would ultimately translate to future sales for the real deal, the logic went. But did it? Thought these fast-fashion brands won’t comment on how much money these collaborations made for the collaborating partners, anecdotally, it seems that they aren’t the magic lever that many designer brands were hoping for.

Out of all the brands that have collaborated with fast fashion, a couple of them have ceased operations (including Viktor & Rolf and Matthew Williamson). Many others haven't been able to become aligned with the zeitgeist (Roberto Cavalli, Marni, Zac Posen), and others still haven't seen that eventual payoff. We probably won't see frenzy levels like the in-store fights and insane re-selling missions of Missoni for Target ever again, which begs the question: How else will luxury brands connect with a younger, less affluent consumer, and how do fast-fashion brands legitimize its style credibility.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Low-rise jeans will be a novelty trend

This is a long shot — and I know it. But with the popularity of athleisure (and the fitness crazes that support it), and the ubiquity of belly-button exposing midriffs via crop tops, it doesn’t seem like a huge jump to think that abs will once again be the show-off body-part of choice again. Hey, if Mandy Moore can make a comeback…
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Levi's 524 Skinny Jeans, $49.50, available at Levi's.
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H&M Super Skinny Regular Jeans, $19.99, available at H&M.
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