Making Sense of Spring 2017’s Hottest Fashion Trends


“If these are upcoming trends, then God help us all.”

That’s what Paul Virilli, owner of Jan’s Boutique in Cherry Hill, N.J., said when I asked him and some other local boutique owners to take a look at a recent InStyle article titled “Fashion Trends We’re Looking Forward to in 2017.”

While some of the trends were familiar — athleisure, slogan T-shirts — others were definitely pushing the envelope. How many of us could really master the “bra out” trend, which advocates wearing the lingerie alone (“no more lurking beneath shirts and tops”)? Or the “Insta-worthy earrings,” featuring earrings easily as large as dinner plates?

InStyle also hyped the shift from ’70s bohemian to ’80s glam: “dramatic ruffles, puffed-up sleeves … ” Again, I have my doubts. I lived through the ’80s and wore said ruffles and sleeves to countless Bar Mitzvahs. You only need to look at our family photos to see the truth:

The ’80s was not a good decade for aesthetics.

Of course, runway-derived trends that look exquisitely cool on 6-foot-tall models striding to the beat of Pet Shop Boys remixes are not meant to be taken literally. They’re meant to inspire designers, boutique owners and everyday fashionistas to adopt the look’s bold outlines and translate it into something suitable for workaday life and ordinary physiques.

But if you’re looking to at least approximate that runway vibe, you might try Center City’s Joan Shepp, which is always au courant. Shepp’s Jenn Lam took a look at the InStyle list and noticed two trends that the store will definitely have: flatforms (the shoes formerly known as “platforms”) and “XXXL handbags.”

“We currently have several flatforms and clogs for spring — Ann Demeulemeester, Robert Clergerie, Sacai,” said Lam. “The trend ‘XXXL handbags’ has also been becoming more prominent — specifically one from Dries Van Noten — and we are receiving the Balenciaga one in the article soon!”

As for clothing, Lam said, “We’re seeing many more prints, specifically stripes.”

Elle magazine recently highlighted the stripes trend, too, noting colors and widths that recall retro beach cabanas.

David Schwartz of Rittenhouse boutique Sophy Curson says the shift to prints and stripes is all about the weather.

“We’re seeing lots of color because it’s spring and we need a change from the winter,” he said. “I have these wonderful dresses that remind me of Calder mobiles, and we also do pretty spring dresses, whether navy and white or pink or pale green — just something fresh.”

Prints are even big for eveningwear. “Prints are huge and will be bigger for 2018,” said Virilli of Jan’s Boutique, which does a brisk business in prom dresses. He’s noticed the trend in sportswear, too. “We’re selling printed pants … printed tops are trending, but also clean simple looks are balancing out the printed looks.”

Schwartz has also noticed “a lot of flower details, whether print or actual silk flower petals sewn onto a dress.”

And then there are the shoulders.

“It’s a big year for off-the-shoulder,” said Schwartz. “That’s a big trend.”

“It’s all about the shoulders,” Lam agreed, “whether … cold-shoulder or embellished.”

“The cold shoulder continues to be popular in sweaters and T-shirts,” said Yvette Kornfield of Hatboro’s Sweater Mill, but she thinks spring is all about dresses. “T-shirt dresses, cold-shoulder dresses, maxi dresses, mini dresses, shirt-waist dresses.”  

When it comes to formal dresses, “hi-lows are getting stronger and will most likely explode in 2018,” said Virilli. “Two-piece dresses are on fire … two-piece ball gowns are amazing.”

The mermaid dress remains a strong category for Jan’s, as does stretch lace, but in a seeming contradiction to a print-heavy season, unembellished, simple, clean dresses are “flying out of our store,” said Virilli.

This doesn’t seem to be the case at Joan Shepp, where “mesh and fishnet tops or dresses have been a common thread in many of our designers,” said Lam, “namely Maison Margiela, Sacai, Ivan Grundahl, Dries Van Noten, and more.”

As for pants, Kornfield said, “The narrow pull-on pant by Insight and Hue leggings continue to be a staple but the wide leg pant is becoming important again. … Scarves and bracelets finish every outfit.”

Make sure those bracelets are gold, though.

“There’s a return to gold, whether a gold bracelet or necklace, after all these years of platinum,” said Schwartz.

Given the size of the jewelry on the runways, though, you’d better make that gold tone. Last I heard, banks weren’t giving out loans for accessory-improvement projects — no matter how Insta-worthy.

Contact: [email protected]; 215-832-0747


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here