If there’s one thing we can always rely on fashion for, it’s the element of surprise. From Gigi Hadid’s nip slip at Versace and Lady Gaga’s surprise turn on the Marc Jacobs runway to Kanye West’s decision to sell tickets to his Yeezy Season 3 show at Madison Square Garden, 2016 had its fair share of shocking and unconventional moments.
It wasn’t all celebrity cameos and accidental indecent exposure, however. Some trends emerged in the past year that celebrated real women and their real fashion needs. The return of smart pantsuits (a nod to Hillary Clinton, some say), beautiful and richly textured fabrics, and the proliferation of athleisure, fashion’s stylish concession to function, proved that designers were listening to women.
But from all the tailored trousers and brocade coats emerged a few trends that likely had onlookers scratching their heads. Weird is nothing new in fashion circles, but these might just take the cake.
#1 Extreme sleeves
Was it homage to slacker style or an attempt to save women from spending money on new gloves? One thing is for sure, sleeves had a moment in 2016. From the puffy 1980s “mutton chop” styles seen at Burberry and Simone Rocha to the extra long versions at Pringle and Joseph, arms were a focus of the year. Admittedly, those long ones were probably a suitable swap-in for gloves during Canada’s unusually mild winter.
#2 Space age platforms
With sights set firmly on David Bowie’s otherworldly Ziggy Stardust persona, the over-the-top, chunky platforms that clanked down the sidewalks this year were a direct offshoot of the glam 1970s revival seen on the runways. The towering footwear came in all varieties, from boots to sandals, and created a loyal faction of hobbling followers.
#3 $$$ hoodies
Spearheaded by Demna Gvasalia of Vetements (and creative director of Balenciaga), hoodies broke out of their post-workout profile to reach haute status. The epitome of quiet luxury, the unbranded, casual staples by the likes of Alexander Wang and Anthony Vaccarello retailed for upwards of $700, creating a market ripe for easy knockoffs. Or, you know, you could just wear the hoodie that’s in your closet right now.
#4 Super short-shorts
Summer 2016 finally put to rest the question of “who wears short-shorts?” Because, apparently, everyone did. While cut-off jeans have been a warm weather staple since the Summer of Love, the most recent iterations were so short there was little left in the way of imagination. Sun’s out, buns out was the going philosophy and it shed light on the new erogenous zone where otherwise the sun didn’t shine: the under-butt.
#5 Fringe frenzy
Part 1920s flapper, part Fraggle Rock, fringe went way beyond its usual folksy, 1970s-inspired treatments to full-blown head-to-toe looks. It was as much about statement dressing and attracting the attention of street style photographers as it was a nod to classic couture tailoring. But we can’t help and think about how easy it would be to snag on just about anything.
Looking ahead to 2017, here are three more outrageous trends that could pop up on a sidewalk near you.
You can call it après-shower chic or morning couture, because this trend is putting bathrobes front and centre. Seen at Lacoste, Alexander Wang and Band of Outsiders, the hooded garments that we associate with snuggly late-night Netflix binges are making their way to the streets as legitimate outerwear. Word to the wise: leave your tattered terry cloth version at home and opt for a silky variety if you’re going to take it outside.
From top: Lacoste; Alexander Wang; Band of Outsiders
#2 Mesh dressing
As the 1970s continue to influence current fashion trends, next year will see a spike in mesh and macramé dressing. While visually arresting and creatively complex, it leaves the field wide open for wardrobe malfunctions. Maybe leave this one for the pop starlets and models on the catwalk.
From top: Balmain; Valentino; Dolce & Gabbana
#3 The cold shoulder
Shoulders have been the thing in fashion for a few seasons now. So it’s no surprise that they’re continuing their moment in the sun. But who would have guessed that only one would get to shine? From bizarre cut-outs that only expose one side to slouchy Flashdance-inspired looks, if you adopt this trend next year, you’ll have to pick a favourite between your right and left sides. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen liberally.
From top: Tibi; Prabal Gurung; an early adopter of the trend