Fall is upon us, and it’s time to get schooled in fashion. Counterintuitive as it may seem, the secret to acing Fall Fashion 101 and knowing what’s trending for the season is skipping the heavy reading.
Since 1893, the September issue of Vogue has been the magazine’s most-anticipated issue each year. Even before the leaves begin to change, Vogue’s biggest issue captures the fall trends that will cross Fashion Week’s runways. So, just as kids rush to buy fresh school supplies to prepare for the coming year, fashionistas rush to buy copies of Vogue to get a glimpse of the coming season.
If you’re like me, most of the fashion displayed in those pages will never find its way into your closet. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn a thing or two from it. When it comes to the September issue, I have created a simple syllabus to follow so that you’ll be at the top of your fall fashion class.
When I got the issue this year, I quickly realized that doing the reading is useless. It had been years since I picked up a copy of Vogue, and I had forgotten that the articles are more often lifestyle stories than fashion stories. Reading anything in the issue would be like reading only the captions of an art history textbook.
Pictures, on the other hand, can say a thousand words, and consequently, half the battle lies in paying attention to the photographs—not the editorial shoots, but the advertisements. There are almost 100 pages of ads before you even get to the table of contents. If this were any other class, that would be the introduction that you would most likely skip, but in Fall Fashion, these are some of the most important pages to study.
When looking at the advertisements, you need to keep track of the repeating elements throughout the pages. Put a post-it note on them, highlight them, or dog-ear them. You will need to come back to those pages later.
The recurring theme that caught my eye immediately in this issue was structure, which was most apparent in the bags and jackets featured: Fendi, Jimmy Choo, and Kate Spade all featured ads with structured bags, while Dior, Miu Miu, and Chanel showed models clad in structured coats.
You get bonus points if you can spot these repeating patterns in the photos. These instances help to corroborate that a trend is a reality and not just a conspiracy of all the biggest fashion houses to resell old looks. In this issue, the it girl, Novak Djokovic’s girlfriend Jelena Ristic, proves that structure really is in style with a 3.1 Phillip Lim structured motorcycle jacket.
There’s no way that you’re going to buy a Phillip Lim jacket, so what does all this mean to a fashion realist like you? Nothing. Unless, for 20 percent of your grade, you can learn to apply these observations.
You obviously can’t buy structure, but you can buy clothing that has structure. Take that moto jacket, for example. It’s a classic piece of clothing that has structure and, lucky for you, it is all over the pages of the September issue. Labels like Diesel and upscale stores like SoHo’s IRO are captured showing their moto jackets for this season. However, even better for you is that stores like Express are advertising their more realistically priced jackets in the pages of the same issue.
With the repeating elements spotted and the observations applied, I thought my work was done. But there’s still 30 percent of my grade unaccounted for.
The last 30 percent is deciding whether you want to buy into a trend or not. Trends are, by nature, ephemeral. Like the leaves, they will change before falling by the wayside, so there’s nothing wrong with being picky about which ones you decide to follow and which ones are better left in the pages of an old issue of Vogue. The most important lesson you can learn is that your personal style is what truly matters.
Sarah Batchu is a Barnard College sophomore and an associate page design editor for Spectator. Fashion Realist runs alternate Fridays.