The 6 Fashion Trends That Don't Care If They're Unpretty

“Only you could pull that off.” “What an interesting outfit!” “Wow — that’s quite a look.” These comments are badges of honor for people whose main motivation when getting dressed isn’t to look nice. Instead, it’s dressing to pull off a theme, or to showcase a fun new buy, or just for the express purpose of making someone smile.

For women cut from that (weird, textured, clashing) cloth, thrift stores and novelty shops used to supply the threads to match our spirits. But lately, the runways have been churning out a delightful supply of trends that don’t really care if your bougie aunt likes them. They’re fun to wear and even more fun to think and talk about. We decided to celebrate these proudly unpretty trends at one of the world’s shiniest symbols of conformity. That's right; we’re reclaiming the American mall, folks.

We’re championing these six underdog fashion trends (shot by Steven Brahms and modeled by Lili Sumner of NEXT Model Management) that will get you plenty of double-takes…which is sort of the point, isn’t it?

Thanks to Simon Malls for opening The Westchester space for the shoot. #foundatsimon

For more ways to "Fuck The Fashion Rules," click here.
Jill Stuart Top, Creatures of Comfort Top, Sacai Jacket, Edun Pants, Iro Eleanor Belt, $280, available at Iro, Jil Sander Navy Shoes, Oblik Atelier Curly Sue Earring, $185, available at Oblik Atelier, Oblik Atelier Ribbon Earring, $165, available at Oblik Atelier.
Jill Stuart Top, Creatures of Comfort Top, Sacai Jacket, Edun Pants, Iro Eleanor Belt, $280, available at Iro, Jil Sander Navy Shoes, Oblik Atelier Curly Sue Earring, $185, available at Oblik Atelier, Oblik Atelier Ribbon Earring, $165, available at Oblik Atelier.
‘80s Power Bitch
When J.W. Anderson showed his fall ’15 collection of staples for the ‘80s power bitch (think Clair Huxtable, Tess McGill, and Alexis Carrington), the reaction was…weird. The majority of people in attendance were pretty anti — and this is fashion people we’re talking about, whose tolerance for weird stuff is already remarkably high. But there were some in the crowd who knew just how big a deal it was for a young, whip-smart designer to be ignoring all the popular ‘70s references in favor of big shoulders, shimmery lurex, fussy bows, and plasticky leather.

Of course, fast-forward just a week and many more brands revealed that they were feeling those same feels, with Bottega Veneta, Balmain, and Saint Laurent sending out their own versions of the '80s look. Sure, some might cry “too soon!” but we’re sort of digging how wrong it all feels.
Maryam Nassir Zadeh Top and Shirt, Chanel Vest, Skirt, and Shoes, Adeam Pants.
‘70s Kitchen Vibes
Avocado green. Harvest gold. Tiger-lily orange. Swiss-chocolate brown. These colors might sound appealing in candy packages, but they’re making a big comeback on the clothing racks as well. It was gravy brown at Shrimps, canary yellow at MSGM, and pea-soup green at Prada.

It takes a certain kind of adventurist to find these clothing shades alluring. After all, they were all the rage in your grandparents' kitchens in the ‘70s, and we probably find them compelling for the same reasons Nana and Granddad did. They’re rich and earthy-feeling, they look good against a wide variety of skin tones, and they project a stoner-slash-bookworm feel that we’re kind of stoked about.

While there are plenty of ‘70s trends out there that the masses have adopted (flares, off-the-shoulder blouses, and folksy embroidery), we’re going to stand by the more nerdy hallmarks of the decade and suggest you wear these colors with sweater vests, plaid pants, herringbone jackets, and blouses with Bozo-sized collars. And when anyone asks you what you’re trying to do with your outfit, tell them you’re paying homage to some ‘70s legends: Sunbeam, KitchenAid, Kenmore, and Maytag.
Julien Macdonald Top and Dress, Nina Ricci Top, Nina Ricci Skirt,, Carven Pants, Marc Jacobs Gloves, Christian Dior Shoes.
Julien Macdonald Top and Dress, Nina Ricci Top, Carven Pants, Marc Jacobs Gloves, Christian Dior Shoes.
Victoriana Vamp
There’s goth, and then there’s Gothic. For the kind of lady who likes her clothes dark and her aura darker, this return to demure, covered-up Victorian style is coming at just the right time. With long sleeves, high necks, and loads of lace and leather, these looks are sexy precisely because of how severe they are. They say, “I will destroy you, you will like it, and my coiffure is going to stay in place the entire time.”
Equal parts sexy and subversive, the best versions of this trend leave you a little bit creeped out. Givenchy’s face-jewelry definitely scared the bejeezus out of us when the first model peeked her head around the corner, and Alexander McQueen’s lineup of Gothic queens was thrilling in its straight-laced unhingedness.
Jill Stuart Top, Jacket, and Pants, Jil Sander Navy Top, Acne Boots.
The Not-Dude Suit
For nearly three decades, since the advent of the power suit (a term that was coined in John T. Molloy’s Dress For Success and is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year), women’s suits have long felt (and looked) like copies of men's suits. Boxy, basic, and in 50 shades of boring, the old suit is being slowly replaced with a new flavor that’s its own thing altogether.

Borrowing elements of ‘40s feline shapes and mod ’60s ones, these suits are created with women’s bodies in mind and come in unconventional fabrics and bold colors. Prada, Acne, and Chanel have all come out with clever versions this past season, and we love how badass this patent-leather Jill Stuart suit looks with a layered oxford-and-turtleneck situation.
Diesel Black Gold Top and Skirt, Versus Asymmetric Dual Sleeveless Dress, $895, available at Versace, Nike Shoes.
Off-Duty Empress
Evening wear during the daytime has historically been a no-no — if not a straight-up faux pas, at least something that will have people asking you whether you had too good a night. But now, your fancy, frilly fripperies can look just as good before sundown as afterward; there are loads of designers using embroidery, lace, gauzy fabrics, and S&M elements (a seriously after-hours look) and reworking them in more casual shapes. Of course, you can always wear your gowns with a pair of sneakers to make your point extra clear.
Model's Own Top and Necktie, Simone Rocha Top, Dress, and Skirt, Converse Shoes.
Model's Own Top and Necktie, Simone Rocha Top, Dress, and Skirt, Converse Shoes.
Intellectual Care Bear
This trend is the antidote to every time you think, Am I too old to wear that? Because you're not. Even though you’re an adult with a brain, you can still dress yourself with the same kind of imagination that you had when you were in single-digits. Designers going after the Intellectual Care Bear aesthetic are mostly coming out of London (from Molly Goddard to Simone Rocha) and are using silly faux furs, exaggerated tulle skirts, and fantastical, magic-garden moments to create a vibe that helps turn your everyday moments into fairy tales.

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