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.

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
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

    VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

    £35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

    Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

    Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

    Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

    £50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

    Day In a Page

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices