Women’s Spring Fashion Trends 2023

Offerings at Joan Shepp. Courtesy of Joan Shepp

Emily Rose Barr

With spring set to debut, cashmeres are being swapped for cooler knits and the countdown to wearing that beloved cotton dress (that you may have tried on a half-dozen times since buying it just last week)
is on.

Four shop owners from the Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia regions spoke about what trends we can expect to see in women’s fashion this season: David Schwartz of Sophy Curson in Philadelphia, Ellen Shepp of Joan Shepp in Philadelphia, Katy Klassman of Upstairs on 7th in Washington and Ifat of LiLi the First in Washington. Weighing in on everything from popular patterns and prints to athleisure and how COVID has impacted the industry, here’s what they had to say.

Color makes a comeback
One thing is for certain: After the cooler hues of winter retire for the season, color will make a comeback.

“Chartreuse, pink and orange are always a welcome sign of spring,” Schwartz said.

Shepp predicted we’ll be seeing lots of colors from the ‘70s: “Melon, yellows, different green … avocado and hunter.”

Klassman had a similar hunch: “Lots of red, yellow, magenta and, of course, there will always be black and white.”

Schwartz added, “Navy for spring still rings true. We have a wonderful pantsuit in navy with white cuffs that has been popular already.”

Cotton and linen to beat the heat
“Spring and summer are all about cotton, whether it be jersey, poplin or in blends, especially in D.C. where there is lots of commuting and heat and
humidity,” Klassman said.

Schwartz, too, has stocked up on linen for the sticky days of summer.

“I have bought the modern cotton shirt dress from a few designers because each has a different take on the concept,” he shared.

Shepp, meanwhile, is stocking up on soft fabrics for prints, airy light cashmeres for knits, and mixtures of cottons and linens to keep things interesting.

Stripes are here to stay
Will stripes ever go out of style? Not any time soon! This timeless, classic pattern is easily wearable and has stuck around for good reason.

“Stripes are still a fresh summer staple,” Klassman shared. Schwartz says to keep an eye out for lots of prints on a white background. “It makes the print stand out.”

Shepp is on the lookout for ‘70s prints, mini stripes, color block, swirly and wavy prints.

Out with the old, in with the new
Shop owners agreed that we can expect to see wider-leg pants emerge as the temperatures rise.

“I always carry lots of narrow-leg pants at many price points. Wider leg pants in linen and jersey are nice alternatives and have become more popular that past few summers, and I expect that to continue,” Schwartz said.

Klassman still shows wider-leg pants, but also some slimmer styles and breezy tops, while Shepp is seeing bustiers, tube tops, and one-shoulder dresses and tops everywhere.

Outfit from LiLi the First. Courtesy of LiLi the First

Dresses: short, mid or maxi?
Midi and maxi dress fans, there’s good news.

“For most of our clients, I would say midi is where they feel at their best and it is what we get the most requests for,” Klassman said.

Similarly, Shepp sees the highest demand for mid and maxis. Ifat agreed, noting, “Skirts are getting longer, to a maxi fit, but the tops are getting shorter, to cropped tops. These opposites are a sign for us that people are ready to try different things and not follow a single trend.”

For those who don’t know where they land on the dress debate, Schwartz offered the following: “Once you find a length that you like, you don’t switch.”

Athleisure/ loungewear: here to stay or had its moment?
If you’ve grown comfortable in your athleisure, a little too comfortable perhaps, fear not: This trend isn’t going anywhere.

“It depends on lifestyle,” Klassman explained. “We have clients who dress to the nines to go to the grocery store and, for them, athleisure never had a moment, but we also have clients who live in it and will never stray. When it’s done right, it can look really polished and sophisticated, so why should it go away? Practical is never a bad thing!”

For Schwartz, “If I touch on it there has to be a new take. I have travel pants for spring with cargo pockets on the side. They feel very light on the hanger, but when people wear them in the wind or on a chilly day, they block out the breeze. I didn’t know that until my clients told me about

As for Shepp? She’s had her fair share: “Time to go. Everyone is happy to be getting dresses again.”

Joan Shepp showroom. Courtesy of Joan Shepp

Blast from the past
What trends from days gone by might we expect to see make a comeback?

Shepp predicts a return to halters, platforms, vests and bootleg cuts.

Schwartz has started to see a more defined shoulder on some jackets: “It makes a reference to the shoulder pads of the ‘80s without the exaggeration,” he mused.

Klassman, meanwhile, has already seen a lot of crochet knits in the marketplace, animal prints and lots of orange.

“I loved wearing crochet in the late ‘80s/ early ‘90s, but I’m probably going to stay away from it this go-around.” As for the uptick in orange? “I’ve already bought a great orange coat for the store from Rachel Comey that someone could have for 20 years, and it would still look amazing.”

WFH Life
Shop owners discussed how the transition to more people working from home has impacted the industry.

“Tops are still way more important than bottoms! The online meeting and appointment culture has completely shifted how people feel about what they wear on the bottom,” Klassman said. “We definitely sell more dresses and tops than pants and skirts, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. We also went through a long period of not needing as much occasion wear for the store, but that has shifted, and we are getting more and more requests for dressy clothes.”

Schwartz said, “I approach my buying decisions based on the idea that I have to seek out items and outfits that the client doesn’t have in their closet. Even if you work from home, you still go out to eat. You are going to want something different to wear outside of the house than what you wear to work inside the house.”

Ifat reflected, “When it comes to the traditional professional outfit, we are not there quite yet. As people are going back to the office, we see a higher demand for a ‘casual professional.’ Serious with a bit of fun, professional with a comfort fit.”

Online offering from LiLi the First. Courtesy of LiLi the FIrst

The future
When it comes to the future of women’s fashion, the consumer knows what she wants, and no one, not even designers, is going to tell (or sell) her otherwise.

“For so long, women’s fashion was about ‘outfits,’ and it was a very prescribed way of dressing,” Klassman said. “It is all about individual expression now. Whether it be high/low dressing, print mixing, brand mixing, et cetera, how we put ourselves together is an expression of who we are.”

Shepp agreed: “Trends are slowly disappearing. It seems like people know what they like and want to wear. Customers can decide their own trends. Designers decide the colors, patterns, fabrics and shapes; however, customers put it together their own way.”

Ifat pointed out, “Over the last few years, we see a shift in women looking to shop at boutiques rather than large stores. It’s a combination of a few reasons: the need to show individualism, to stand out from the crowd. The awareness of mass-production manufacturing is operating and the understanding that high-quality items make us look better.”

Schwartz predicted that technology will become incorporated into fashion. “A blouse that takes your heartbeat or a pants that cools you in the heat or warms you in the cold.”

Emily Rose Barr is a freelance writer.


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