The Style Police: Ready and wearable

This season's cuddly jumpers, fluid maxi skirts and flat footwear are the first `real' fashions for `real' women this decade. Annalisa Barbieri says this user-friendly elegance wins over trendiness any day

The Daily Mail has declared war on "frumpy" autumn/winter fashion. Laugh? Style Police nearly tripped over the hem of our slouch pants. Like a nagging old spinster, the Mail is never happy unless she's carping. Last season it was the "girlie" slip dress. This time it is the dull, frumpy flat shoe, knife pleat skirt and the maxi. And you know what? Style Police believes this autumn/winter is the strongest, most user-friendly season of the decade.

Fashion in the Nineties has been at best confused and at worst completely deranged. We've been through grunge, techno, urban guerrilla, anti-fashion and cold, minimal conceptual fashion. Autumn/winter 98 is genuinely the first time high fashion and real life are totally in synch. Minimalism has eased in to a new, soft modern style. The aesthetic is American and, unsurprisingly, US designers Marc Jacobs, Mark Eisen, Narciso Rodriguez and Michael Kors are dressing the millennial woman in what she wants to wear.

Let's break down the new season and then check the Frumpometer. Primarily, autumn/winter clothes are new. The silhouette has changed more radically than it first appears but the blow has been cushioned by the constant themes like grey, luxe fabrics and even more easy shapes. This season has knocked the stuffing out of tailoring. This doesn't mean the death of the jacket. What it does mean is a look that will genuinely take you through work, rest, play and travel.

It's not essentially a new look. The Americans have always understood the importance of comfort, ease and simplicity in clothing. It is a tradition passed down from Claire McCardell, Zoran, and Halston to Eisen, Jacobs and Kors via Donna, Ralph and Calvin. It's the cashmere sweater thrown over a silk jersey maxi-skirt, a charcoal-grey flannel midi coat that's part jacket, part overcoat. It is the dynamism of a flat shoe as opposed to the heel. It is also quite conservative and inspired by ice-cool Fifth Avenue blondes. We're talking about Grace Kelly, not Sister George.

Ironically, the Mail's war on frump was accompanied by catwalk images of the most extreme slouchy maxi skirts and the big sweaters. These images were really crying wolf when there is nothing to fear from this season's clothes. Don't tell us women find a cashmere sweater and a maxi threatening. Naturally, some women wish to eat, sleep and whatever else in their high heels. When stilettos rose to six inches at Gucci two seasons ago, the same people who call flats frumpy were attacking the stillie as disempowering and debilitating. Come on, guys. It takes more than a pair of shoes to compromise your femininity.

This season owes more to the restraint of the pure American school than the radical Bladerunner crossed with the Palace of Versailles school of young British designers currently weaving their magic at the Paris couture houses. Style Police is actually against British fashion's obsession with the shock of the new. The allure of the purely elegant should be applauded.

We've got a problem in fashion now in that new doesn't necessarily mean good. So when, as with autumn/winter, we are presented with mouth-watering, mature clothes with a considered thought process behind them, the collections are either misunderstood or attacked. For once the designers have given us clothes every woman would mortgage their children to possess. They are not headline-grabbing photo opportunities where the model has a breast hanging out of a sleeve.

At last, here's a coherent, modern take on fashion for the millennium. Women don't want to dress like little girls. Even Geri Halliwell is auctioning the tarty stage costumes she wore in her incarnation as Ginger Spice. Like Geri, fashion has endured the identity crises of the early Nineties and finally grown up. So we've got soft sweaters that hug your body like your first lover, fluid maxi skirts in soft jersey, delicate little flat slipper shoes and easy dresses under crisp grey flannel midi jackets. The fabrics are softer than a caterpillar's thigh and the colours are as muted as a Scottish grouse moor on a misty autumn evening. If that sounds frumpy to you, you clearly have all the sensitivity of asbestos.

News
The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
food + drinkTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
News
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
people
Sport
Premier League Live Saturday 23 August
sportAll the action from today's Premier League matches
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    JavaScript Developer (C++ / C# / HTML, Java Angular.js) London

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A world leading business intellig...

    Application Support Analyst-(UNIX, Linux, Financial Services)

    £40000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Application Support Analyst-(UNIX...

    Application Support Analyst - SQL, UNIX, Linux

    £30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Application Support Analyst - SQL...

    Application Support - FIX protocol, UNIX, SQL, Windows, OMS

    £40000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Application Support - FIX protoco...

    Day In a Page

    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

    What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

    Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

    Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

    Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

    Florence Knight's perfect picnic

    Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
    Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

    Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

    The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
    Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

    Mark Hix's summery soups

    Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
    Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

    Tim Sherwood column

    I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
    Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

    Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

    The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition