Dress up, feel good, repeat. Introducing autumn’s most exciting new fashion for getting back out there again
Whisper it, but September is starting to feel more like a September should feel. Not least because fashion seems to be stirring to life again at last.
September may be famed as the start of autumn, but it's almost better known in well-dressed circles as ‘Fashion Month’. It’s the time when a string of fashion weeks across the world herald new trends for seasons to come. And the September fashion magazine issues are always the biggest of the year, packed with new inspirations.
‘Undoubtedly, there's excitement surrounding fashion again,‘ says Karen Dacre, fashion editor-at-large and former fashion editor of The Evening Standard. ‘Making an “effort” – whatever that means to you – is back on the agenda. It’s also worth noting that we’ve evolved as consumers too. The events of the last 18 months have inspired many of us to think carefully about the way we live our lives and to make changes accordingly. More than ever, we want fashion that is hard-working and versatile – and, after a year in sweatpants, we want it with a playful twist.’
So what are we coveting at John Lewis this autumn? Read on to discover which pieces and new brands to invest in for an exciting new season and beyond.
Knitted wrap dresses, groovy florals, corduroy – this season dresses are having a 1970s moment. It makes perfect sense, since it was a decade not known for fading into the background in the style stakes. It’s also the era that brought us super-flattering wrap dresses, work-to-play shirt dresses and, of course, hippie smocks – all making an appearance this season.
A printed smock is such a good all-rounder – wear with (equally 1970s) slouchy suede boots from the office to dinner to weekend lunches. Likewise the wrap dress – figure flattering and striking the perfect balance between smart and comfortable.
Not forgetting the retro florals. ‘The 1970s-inspired floral dresses around at the moment epitomize this idea of functional fashion that is a joy to wear,’ says Karen. ‘Versatile without being boring, this style works on a host of levels. Wear one with trainers and a denim jacket and you've got an excellent weekend look. Stick a blazer on top and you’re ready for your next Zoom call. The best post-pandemic fashion is the stuff you can “do it all” in – a well-chosen dress you adore will do this and more.’
The jumpsuit, in all its various incarnations, is still going strong this season. And why not? Women have realised just how useful all-in-ones can be – they’re an instant outfit for a start, and also master that art of being put together but in a cool, less feminine way than with a dress.
The boiler suit – another 1970s favourite – is back. New brand Ro&Zo has a utility style you’ll want to wear all weekend while NRBY has a zip-through look in mint that’s just as good with trainers as it is with heels for a much-anticipated return to nightlife.
Dungarees are also experiencing a renaissance. They’re a great styling opportunity – team with statement blouses or colourful knits, then add a luxury bag to complete your look.
The transitional jacket is without doubt a wardrobe essential. And after a year of favouring sensible outerwear due to the lack of social activities on offer, we’re seeing more statement jackets that really form part of your outfit this season as well as helping to keep chillier winds at bay.
The ‘shacket’ or overshirt is still having a moment – it’s such a good investment piece thanks to its endless styling potential. An oversized plaid shirt gives a dressed down grungy spin to a floral printed dress teamed with chunky boots. White Stuff has some great checked options which will also look great paired with denim. You could also opt for a more neutral overshirt – John Lewis & Partners has some good value pale grey ones – to style with practically everything.
Then we’re seeing white denim jackets, to keep that summer feeling alive, and trusty leather biker jackets and blazers are ideal day-to-night options.
One of the many great things about this season is new knitwear. And because the weather is usually still quite temperate we’re not talking chunky jumpers at this stage but rather lively statement pieces to add texture to an outfit.
‘A piece of jolly knitwear is a great idea for those who veer towards pared-back fashion,’ says Karen. ‘Chucking it on with a pair of jeans and a T-shirt will make you feel like you’ve made a huge effort.’
It goes back to comfort and taking a softer approach to tailoring. A fluid printed skirt has the perfect partner in a luxe knitted shirt. Reiss has some lovely options this season that master the art of just the right amount of polish. Adding animal print to a cardigan, meanwhile, immediately elevates its status, especially when paired with a fancy-collared blouse. Try AND/OR and Hush for leopard patterned options.
We’re also enjoying the return of the knitted tank top this Autumn – another way to style your staple white shirt. It’s all about layering.
Bags took a real hit during lockdown because, let’s face it, with nowhere to go, who needs a bag? This is why the new season offerings feel even more special.
The vibe is very much ‘treat yourself but feel good about it’ because these are true investments pieces. Fuelled by the pandemic mentality, practicality has remained a priority with cross-body styles taking the lead – after all, you’ve got places to be. Mulberry, Chloé and Coach have 1970s-inspired saddle and satchel styles in caramel and tan leather that work for all occasions and will add a chic finishing touch to any outfit.
Going bright also feels like the right mood for getting back out there style-wise. We’re loving Longchamp’s Le Foulonné leather flap-over cross-body in Mimosa yellow. If that’s not celebratory then we don’t know what is.