June 10, 2014

The summer of '14

There is a generally accepted bit of fashion theory which states that, for many reasons, people don't dress as similar today as they did back in, say, the 1950's. Back then, it says, the dictates of Paris and other fashion capitals were consistent and dominant and the general public just had to follow, all be it at a safe distance. Now, the looks on the street form the main inspiration for many designers and they offer such a varied view that there is bound to be something for everyone, every season. And with clothes being comparatively cheaper and living standards higher, a much larger percentage of the population has the chance to play this game of fashion.

There is some truth to the theory, but I think as much could be said against it. 
Last weekend, sitting on a sunny terrace next to one of central The Hague's busiest shopping streets, I had a good chance to study the people passing by. And I think I've been able to identify the 'key looks of the season'. No matter what the fashion magazines may say, these are the first truly summer-y days and this is what women were wearing:
All these pictures come from the H&M website. I've used them as examples to illustrate each look although I have little doubt I've seen some of these actual designs. I picked these neither to promote the store, nor to say anything against it.

First of all: Short shorts. Usually not elegantly styled with a jacket, like in this picture but worn simply with a t-shirt or tank top or with a more loose fitting top. And I don't think they're called hot pants, although they are of that length. About 80% of all the shorts worn were jeans cut-offs, like in the picture. Many with the pocket bags hanging out, which I think looks terrible. Back in the olden days, we made our own cut-offs by simply cutting the legs of our old jeans short. I suspect most ladies who were wearer this look last weekend bought their jeans shorts, frayed hems and all. After all, they may be fitted but they're nowhere near as tight as their usual skinny jeans. 
As worn on the street, this really is a great casual look for the young and skinny on a hot summer's day. Of course, with careful selection and styling, it is possible to deviate from each of the points I've just stated, but not from all four of them.

Secondly, and going in a different direction: the maxi dress. Like the short shorts, the maxi dress has been a summer favorite for a while and exists in many different versions. But now, one clear favorite appeared: A full length jersey dress with the shaping of a tank top at the top. It can be in plain black or in one of those hard to describe pastels (sort of like mint green, or like salmon but not quite as sweet) or it can have stripes. It can be fairly fitted or be essentially a straight shape. Side slit(s) optional. 
Another easy-breezy piece which can be quite casual but could be worn in more situations than the aforementioned shorts. Easier to wear as well. And these seemed to be worn by women of between, roughly, 12 and 45. 
There is one danger with this dress: Being made of jersey, it is, of course, quite stretchy. This seems to invite some people to buy it at least two sizes too small. Which causes their dresses to look like sausage casings.

Number three: I don't think these have a special name but they are loose fitting trousers, usually made from viscose/rayon or polyester, and they typically have some form of elasticated waistband and tapered legs. They already appeared in larger numbers earlier in spring but of course, the non-sticky varieties make good summer wear too. Wild prints are popular with young women but there are similar shapes in plain black and other less eye-catching hues as well.
On a warm summer's day, these are usually worn with fitted t-shirts or tank tops. The only thing that really surprises me about the more 'trendy' versions is the often very low rise. I would like the waistband of, well anything really, to hit at least above the widest point of my hip. You know, so that gravity with help keep my trousers or skirt on.

This fourth item is kind of related to the previous two: the maxi skirt. It's often made in a similar way (those gathers) and from similar materials as the trousers above although you won't see it in those busy prints. These skirts are worn in plain colours, most often the not-quite-pastels I mentioned before. They may be the successor to last year's hi-low skirts. And given the choice, I really prefer these.

There is a fifth 'key item' which I didn't find at H&M. It's a sort of cross-breed of items number three and four: loose fitting, stretch waisted trousers with straight legs (sometimes with drawstrings at the bottom) in plain fabrics. Very much like the skirt, but you can ride a bicycle wearing one (always an important consideration in the Netherlands). 
The really interesting thing about this 'look' is that it really seems to be for everyone. This is an item which might as well be worn by a 14-year-old as by a 50-year-old. And it was. 
That makes it an unexpected and, I would guess, quite welcome addition to a fashion landscape which is often, and often correctly, criticized for only dressing the young and/or skinny.

And what was I wearing, amid this parade of summer 2014 street fashion? Well, I didn't join in. I wore this dress:

A 1950's inspired cotton dress which I made way back in 2010 (picture is from the original blog post. This was clearly before I started working in bridal... I made a lot of dresses that summer. I didn't have time for that in the years that followed). I still love it and I will continue to wear it. I kind of stuck out though.

And what's your take on 'looks for summer'? Do you try to get new looks for each new season or do you prefer to let your wardrobe slowly evolve with you? And what does this summer look like where you live? Any similarities with The Hague, the Netherlands? Any big differences? Interesting items? Inspiration?


  1. Here in Ohio in the U.S. there are lots of the short shorts and maxi dresses or skirts. Everything is worn with flip flops. Though I have seen similar pants in sewing blogs I haven't seen the pants on the street. Oh and your dress is beautiful!

  2. Love your dress! I hope you mean you stuck out in a good way ;-)

    Here in California it's always summer. Short shorts with tanks is popular now that school is out (plus it's warm here). I still see men wearing cargo shorts. Flip flops for all. You didn't mention yoga pants (which I'm wearing right now), those are still everywhere with their cousin, black leggings.

    Like you, I was keeping up the side yesterday at jury duty. It was 93 F and I wore my Sewaholic Cambie to court. Nothing nicer than a cotton frock on a hot day.

  3. I love it! Good for you for having your own style!

  4. Certainly know which I prefer. You dress is fabulous. I was at the Minerva meet up in the north of England wearing my sewaholic cambie dress, as were about 12 others! We all looked different though.