We're Reclaiming Our Space In Spring's Biggest Trends

With oversized headpieces and larger-than-life shoulder pads, the season's trends are bigger than ever.

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Frankly, the subway is packed enough without people who have zero regard for anyone else’s personal space — yes, we’re talking about the unavoidable manspreaders. Isn’t the morning commute enough torture without a stranger’s hairy knees brushing up against yours? (That is, if you even get a seat.) Even worse is having to squeeze your way onto a bench that’s made for at least three people but is being used by just one guy who thinks his you-know-what needs more space than anyone else does. Sure, sir, let me just cram my way into this seat, legs crushed together, shoulders scrunched up to my ears, so that you can continue to enjoy your morning groin-stretch.
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Manspreading is essentially the physical manifestation of mansplaining. Both are ways men insist on claiming their space, whether physically or psychologically, repeatedly leaving us as women feeling belittled, patronized, or just plain outraged. And yet both are so commonplace that, as much as we hate to admit it, we tend to shrug them off as the norm. Because for as long as so many of us can remember, we've been told to shrink our physical bodies, our actions, and our minds. Sit with your legs crossed. Speak lightly. Only dream so big.
Well, it’s time to let ourselves take up space unapologetically — and our clothing can help us do just that. This season, we mean that in its most literal sense, because spring and summer's biggest trends are, quite literally, huge. And this presents an opportunity for women to go bold — think: larger-than-life shoulder pads and earrings that brush the collarbone. (Sorry to those who have already lived through the ‘80s, but the decade's most prevalent trends are back.) From the super-wide shoulders and wide-brim hats at Marc Jacobs to the excessively piled-on layers at Balenciaga, the runways this past fashion month helped pave the way for women to go way bigger with their clothing than ever before. And if you feel like they're almost too ridiculous to pull off IRL, that’s when you know you’re doing it right.
But we’re not just talking bold when it comes to silhouette or color — we're talking about the idea of taking up actual, physical room; using fashion to create our own bubble of personal space and not leaving it up to a stranger of the male variety to decide it or restrict it. These trends are allowing women to reclaim their space physically, whether on the train, on the sidewalk, or in society as a whole. Sure, we can fight through our words, our actions, and our bodies, but it's also time we did so via wide silhouettes, can't-miss-me accessories, and full outfits that say, "I'm here, and what are you going to do about it?"
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We’re done settling, we’re done minimizing, we’re done shrinking ourselves to accommodate someone else — clothing included. Welcome to the era of ladyspreading.
PHOTOGRAPHED BY MAYA FUHR
Nina Ricci shirt, jacket, and shorts; Nina Ricci Branded Buckle Belt, $450, available at Farfetch; Sorenna Rostampour earrings.
The Space-Claiming Shoulder
We're used to elbowing our way into a packed subway car, but have you ever considered what might happen if you did so in a garment that does the work for you? Since last season, we've been seeing the return of extra-large shoulders, and not just of the '80s-inspired, padded variety.
If you're the type that's used to squeezing in, shoulders rolled in and hunched, these should be the change of shape you've been waiting for. Now's the time to embrace broad silhouettes that take up the physical space. Because if men aren't going to give us the room we deserve, we're going to claim it for ourselves — even if it means wearing a garment that forces the underground sea of people to part just for you.
PHOTOGRAPHED BY MAYA FUHR
Marc Jacobs sweater, jacket, turban, and shoes; Marc Jacobs Sport Fanny Pack, $350, available at Marc Jacobs.
Oversized, Head-To-Toe
Once you start leaning into bigger silhouettes, don't shy away from picking oversized pieces from top to bottom. That's where accessories come into play. Hair pieces, like Marc Jacobs' XL satin head wraps, start the look on the strong note, making way for going huge all over. And if stark structure isn't really your thing, channel your inner Fresh Prince and go baggy (and fluorescent). A bulging fanny pack and some sequin shorts finish off a look that's ideal for letting your legs hand loose and relaxed in the exact same manner that your male counterparts do.
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Ellery suit; Rosie Assoulin heels; Sorenna Rostampour earrings.
PHOTOGRAPHED BY MAYA FUHR
Sure, big earrings don't take up as much physical space as an extra-wide shoulder, but they demand attention all the same. Why stick with a stud when the rest of your look is on another level entirely? Designer Sorenna Rostampour has made a name for his luxury jewelry line through large, long architectural pieces (pictured here) that happen to celebrate female power. And though he's male, he understands how important it is for a woman to claim space and attention in bold jewelry that really stands out. "There are so many amazing jewelry brands who offer amazing pieces for daily use, I want to offer something that is bold, new, and borderline ridiculous," he tells Refinery29. "I want people to feel fabulous and confident. You wear them to tell people you have arrived!" Forget balance — this movement is all about tipping the scale.
PHOTOGRAPHED BY MAYA FUHR
Off-White T-shirt, dress, and shoes; Solace London earrings.
Volume-Up Dresses
When it comes to ladyspreading, we're leaving the slinky slip dresses and bodycon numbers behind in exchange for amping up the volume — and ballgown-esque skirts and tulle-everything are the way to go. Just as M.C. Hammer's pants once did, these copious skirts really say, "can't touch this."
PHOTOGRAPHED BY MAYA FUHR
A.W.A.K.E. Raw Edge Coat, $687, available at MatchesFashion.com; Rosetta Getty Wide-leg Jumpsuit, $2,200, available at Neiman Marcus; Saskia Diez Crystal Sling Choker, $350, available at Saskia Diez.
It may be easier said than done to nudge your way into the subway seat you deserve, but we can all get one step closer to making our presence known when we embrace the sizable trends this season is offering. And it's not just for the sake of attention. "I think about silhouette often when designing a collection. Our clothes are made for women who are real versions of themselves and are involved in current cultural affairs," designer Rosette Getty, whose jumpsuit is pictured above, says. "It is important to have clothes that seamlessly take us through our lives. The wearer needs to feel at ease, and oversized pieces are one way to achieve this."
We've gone long enough sizing down to fit everyone's standards of the space a woman warrants, both physically and figuratively, and spring's oversized trends are just one way to reclaim what's ours. Whether that means dusting off those '80s blazers or just going the full, flowing route instead of the "flattering" one, we'll leave that up to you. It may still be a man's world, but we're making our presence known.
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