The 10 Fashion Trends That Defined 2014

Photo: Courtesy of H&M.
It’s hard to picture how what you’re wearing right now is going to be characterized in the future. We’re sure our counterparts in 1974 couldn’t imagine a day when suede bell bottoms and men’s platform shoes would seem like a costume. Certainly our circa-2000 selves couldn't fathom wearing jeans that were anything but low-rise flares. That’s the funny thing about trends: Each one's only novel in the beginning of its life cycle and years after it ends.
This year was actually a pretty distinctive one for fashion. Silhouettes started splitting into two camps (severely tomboy and severely feminine); a new emphasis was placed on basics, and for the first time in a while, practicality and comfort were prioritized as much as good, eye-catching design. Red carpet style got more daring and ostentatious, while the streets started experimenting with subtlety. You lived through it, and now’s the time to relive it: We’ve picked the top 10 trends of 2014 that one day — fingers crossed — your grandkids will admire (if not gently mock).
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Photo: Courtesy of Catbird.
Delicate Jewelry
It might have all been about the big-and-bold arm party in 2012, and the statement necklace in 2013. But in 2014, jewelry shrunk, got more personal, and became much more subtle. Instead of big rhinestones and large cuffs, more attention was placed on thin knuckle rings (Brooklyn retailer Catbird is responsible for a lot of the hype), small stud earrings, and diminutive gemstones. Worn stacked and mixed up, these pieces are only noticeable upon closer inspection, which makes them feel special in a whole different way.
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Photo: Courtesy of H&M.
From the slow rise of Lululemon to the very recent creation of “health goth,” this year, gym clothes officially became okay to wear for the other 23 hours of your life, too. The look became so ubiquitous that it replaced denim as the most popular retail category. Alexander Wang seized the moment with his fall H&M collaboration, and his collection of sports bras, Lycra dresses, neoprene sweatshirts, and other gym wear helped solidify the trend.
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Pleated Skirts
From asymmetrical midi-skirts to leather versions, long-length pleated skirts replaced maxi and pencil shapes as the go-to silhouette for 2014. This style was part of a trend toward modest, preppy clothing, as well as the one prioritizing ability and mobility that was huge this year — it was made for movement.
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Photo:D. DaSilva/REX USA.
Matching Sets
Some call them co-ords. Others call them matched separates. Still others only know this look as Taylor Swift’s post-gym outfit. Whatever they were to you, matching sets were a massive trend for 2014, and for good reason. It was an easy way to look instantly more put-together, and basically stocked your closet with three outfits in one.
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Photo: Courtesy of Maiyet.
The wide-legged, gaucho-style pants attracted a diverse group of haters initially, but the culottes of 2014 were decidedly not like the stretchy, black, fold-over, yoga-pant pairs from the early aughts. Hitting from below the knee to just above the ankle, the modern-day gaucho combined the glamour of a full skirt with the ease of a pajama pant. We wore ours with everything from Stan Smiths to toothpick-thin stilettos.
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Photo: Courtesy of J Brand.
New York magazine ran a story back in February about the rise of “Normcore,” a trend-name first coined by DIS magazine, and one that celebrated the anonymity of the American tourist by repurposing it for the fashion set. Starting off with New Balances from Footlocker and Hanes sweatshirts, normcore enthusiasts eventually found a uniform with limited-edition A.P.C. New Balances and cashmere-blend sweatshirts from The Row. On some level, it was a rejection of the peacocking that had defined street style for the past few years. From another angle, it was just a new way for beautiful, hip people to prove that they could still be beautiful and hip even in the blandest of clothes.
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Photo: Courtesy of Mansur Gavriel.
Bucket Bags
From Mansur Gavriel to Building Blocks to Saint Laurent, the minimal bucket bag with its crisp-cut, non-hemmed edges and simple drawstring was the must-have purse among the fashion set. Not only was it practically bottomless, but it made all the stuff we had to schlep look chic, clean, and streamlined.
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Photo: Courtesy of Dior.
Once your grandmother’s favorite gem, pearls adorned everything from sweatshirts and shoes to ear cuffs, necklaces, and rings. Dior’s Mise en Dior collection earrings helped launch the front-to-back trend that's still going strong, and brands from Forever 21 to Delfina Delettrez attempted to out-quirk each other with whimsical takes on the marine treasure.
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Photo: Courtesy of Shrimps.
Statement Coats
From pastel faux fur toppers to menswear-inspired gray overcoats, a solid, Instagram-worthy coat became as essential a part of your wardrobe as anything you’d wear underneath. For a layer once considered an afterthought (literally, you put it on after everything else), statement jackets made the winter days of 2014 a shade less dreary.
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Photo: George Pimentel/WireImage.
We don’t know what exactly was in the Kool-Aid this summer, but it seemed like every young starlet tried out the hip-bone-displaying pelvage dress. Kendall Jenner’s Fausto Puglisi creation signaled the beginning of her fashion fairytale, and newcomer Keke Palmer was all but put on the map by her bold dress. Though the look died out with summer, we’ll never forget the refreshing moment for which cleavage and midriffs took a backseat to some more creative experimentation.

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