The Dress Report: 14 Names and Trends That Will Define Autumn/Winter 2022

As a child, I wanted so badly for magic to be real. Between the Scottish folklore my granny would whisper to me as bedtime stories to watching the movie Practical Magic on loop, I was always more interested in writing my own spells and creating garden potions than I was with anything my friends were into. Pokémon perhaps? As an adult, however, I'm told, almost on a daily basis, that magic doesn't exist. Whether it's a new scientific discovery that debunks the supernatural or something as simple as revealing the secret behind a magician's trick, the need to demystify the world around us seems inherent. While I absolutely believe in science, and I'm not all that big of a fan of magicians anyway, I would like to counter one thing: Whoever says that magic isn't real hasn't fully grasped the concept of dresses.

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(Image credit: COURTESY OF @MONIKH, @BETTINALOONEY, CINQ À SEPT, @ANIYAHMORINIA, @DOINA, @BELLATHOMAS)

Anything feels possible when you wear a dress; actually, anything is possible when you wear a dress that makes you feel as invincible and special as you are. And what could be more magical? So intrinsic are dresses with some of life's most important milestones; their influence should never be overlooked or underestimated. I'd go as far as to say they are one of, if not the, most impactful, important garments in the fashion industry—one that designers go to great lengths to perfect for us each season. As we find ourselves at the earliest beginnings of autumn/winter 2022, perhaps now is the time to elucidate the most noteworthy dress trends that will see us through the rest of the year.

I may be bewitched by the notion of magic, but I leave nothing to chance. When it came to finding the most special dresses I could, I reached out to some people who are very much in the know—experts from across the fashion ether who appreciate the full potential and the effervescence of a dress. By experts, I mean Liane Wiggins, head of womenswear buying at MATCHESFASHION; Libby Page, market director at NET-A-PORTER; and Victoria Prew, CEO and co-founder of luxury rental platform Hurr, along with some of my esteemed dress-appreciating colleagues. Naturally, I've peppered in some insights and observations from yours truly, too.

So without further ado, scroll on to see 14 impressive and downright magical dress trends autumn/winter 2022 has to offer.

1. Animal Instinct 

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(Image credit: COURTESY OF @EMMAROSESTYLE, @FISAYOLONGE, PROENZA SCHOULER, ALEJANDRA ALONSO ROJAS, @MONIKH)

There are countless print and pattern ideas coming through for autumn/winter 2022, but the one that's easily most prevalent is animal motifs, be it big cat energy by way of leopard spots or indeed Réalisation's viral zebra stripes. "Show me a fashion person who doesn't want to own a leopard-print dress and I'll show you a liar!" proclaims Hannah Almassi, editor in chief at Who What Wear UK. "They are a classic for good reason, and if you can find the right print and silhouette (look out for cheap patterns where you can literally see the repeat and keep the cut of the dress unfussy), you'll have invested in one that is good to go for many seasons to come." 

2. Dialled-Down Sparkle 

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(Image credit: COURTESY OF @KARENWAZEN, CINQ A SEPT, @TYLYNNNGUYEN, MICHAEL KORS COLLECTION, 16ARLINGTON)

It would be remiss of me not to mention the iridescent sparkle that fluttered down the runways. That's right, fluttered. This season, delicate embellishments reign supreme over adornment that requires heavy lifting, with the fluidity giving more dimension and softness to decorated pieces. Hone your palette to pastels, whites and blunt metallics for a modern edge. 

3. Dopamine Dressing

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(Image credit: COURTESY OF @INDYABROWN, ALEXANDER MCQUEEN, CECILIE BAHNSEN, PROENZA SCHOULER, @STYLEIDEALIST)

If slipping on a dress in itself makes you feel good, just imagine the positive effect donning an ultra-bright frock will have on your mood. "We’ve seen mood-boosting colours prevail across the season’s runways, embodying joyful dressing," says Liane Wiggins, head of womenswear buying at MATCHESFASHION. "We predict that shades of yellow will be dominating the A/W 22 dress scene, as seen at Gabriela Hearst and Alexander McQueen, as well as shades of fuchsia as seen at Valentino."

"The bright, saturated shades trend looks set to continue into A/W 22 with hot pink. Think Barbiecore, courtesy of Valentino A/W 22, and eye-popping green as seen in Cecilie Bahnsen’s A/W 22 collection," affirms Victoria Prew, CEO and co-founder at luxury rental platform Hurr

4. Fashion Editor's Pick: Anna October

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(Image credit: COURTESY OF @ENDLESSLYLOVECLUB, ANNA OCTOBER, @KATCOLLINGS, @DOINA)

Anna October isn't a new name in fashion. For years, I've been charmed by her dresses; her considered colour palette, dreamlike fabrications and details so breathtaking they look as if they've been crafted with the assistance of divine intervention. Anna October is a Ukrainian designer, so the fact she has continued to create her collections as war and devastation sweep the country she loves is a testament to her resilience, perseverance and stay. Anna October dresses bring so much beauty into the world, and her A/W 22 collection is one of her most special yet. 

5. Let It Slip

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(Image credit: COURTESY OF @BETTINALOONEY, @CHAMPAGNEMANI, @DAWN.TAN, JIL SANDER, ACNE STUDIOS)

"The slip dress has been a huge hit with our customers and will also be key for the A/W 22 season," says Libby Page, market director at NET-A-PORTER. "Be it romantic, sexy, cool or feminine, there are endless takes on how to wear lingerie as ready-to-wear today. We even saw a 200% increase in search terms for ‘metallic slip dress’ following Victoria Beckham wearing one to Brooklyn and Nicola’s wedding."

"Wearing your underwear as outerwear isn't a new trend, but it's certainly not one I'm sick of," confirms Remy Farrell, shopping editor at Who What Wear UK. This season, the slip dress prevails, only now it comes adorned with lace to give it that nightie feel. No length is off limits either; I'm partial to the mini iterations that are guaranteed to raise an out-of-touch eyebrow or two."

6. Midnight Hour

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(Image credit: COURTESY OF @EMNITTA, @BASMA_K, BRANDON MAXWELL, @CHAMPAGNEMANI, @ALLISONHO)

In the world of fashion trends, we often witness opposites come into play. So if you're looking for an antidote to the aforementioned dopamine dresses, this is it. "'Back to black' is a key A/W 22 theme we’re thrilled to be backing for the season," reveals Page. "After several seasons of bold, bright and optimistic colours, this mood signifies the return of fashion’s favourite colour: black. We’ve bought 700 options of black dresses for every shape, size, aesthetic and beyond, with some styles going up to a size UK 24. Our favourite styles come from Nensi Dojaka, Saint Laurent and Grace Ling—a designer to watch." 

7. Pick Your Silhouette: Tube or Tent

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(Image credit: COURTESY OF @NOORE, HELMUT LANG, @DUCKIETHOT, @KARENWAZEN, ACNE STUDIOS)

As we've already established, fashion is all about dichotomies, and none are perhaps as opposing as A/W 22's trending silhouettes—fluid, oversize dresses, the sort seen at and spearheaded by Taller Marmo, and the tighter-than-tight tubes showcased by Helmet Lang. Which camp will you choose? 

8. Rental Confidential 

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(Image credit: COURTESY OF @LUCYWILLIAMS02, HELMUT LANG, @LEFEVREDIARY, AJE, @ANIYAHMORINIA)

With the fashion rental space only growing in demand, I was keen to find out what the future (read: autumn/winter 2022) looks like in the borrowing world. So,who better to ask than Prew? "It tends to vary depending on the occasion. For weddings, the statement sleeves and silhouettes at Aje are still being regularly booked out, and vintage-inspired prints at Rixo have been dominating, too. For winter getaways, I know our community will keep renting Rat & Boa non-stop, as they have done all summer. For a party aesthetic, it's got to be Nensi Dojaka." Now we know.

9. Neckline of Note 

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(Image credit: COURTESY OF @EMMANUELLE_K, @GRECEGHANEM, TANYA TAYLOR, CINQ A SEPT, @TYLYNNNGUYEN)

It was circa 2016 when off-the-shoulder necklines last reigned supreme over fashion. As I always say, what goes around, comes around, and right now, shoulder-baring necklines are back, with dresses populating new-in sections across the high-end and high-street shopping circuits. Consider this your sign to begin applying highlighter to your décolletage. 

10. Head Buyer's Pick: Nensi Dojaka

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(Image credit: COURTESY OF @BETTINALOONEY, NENSI DOJAKA, @JOURDANDUNN, @CAMILLECHARRIERE)

"We love Nensi Dojaka's layered, deconstructed designs that honour the female form and champion high shine for the A/W 22 season," says Wiggins. "The nude sequins, maxi dress in the brand's signature cut-out details is a season favourite."

11. Max It Out

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(Image credit: COURTESY OF AKNVAS, @BETTINALOONEY, @MONIKH, @NOORE, STELLA MCCARTNEY)

"My knees haven't seen daylight in a good decade or so, which makes the return of the maxi a very welcome one indeed," confides Almassi. "I'll be investing in slimmer-line silhouettes—like a tube dress or maxi skirt—in order to counterbalance my hourglass and petite frame. The new wave of maxis tend to cut just above the ankle, so you can still wear a selection of different shoe styles, and show them off too!" 

12. Princess Corsetry 

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(Image credit: COURTESY OF SLEEPER, @THEINDIAEDIT, @THANDIMAQ, LOEFFLER RANDALL, ABERCROMBIE & FITCH )

Growing up, my style icon was always Briar Rose in Disney's Sleeping Beauty. While I adored the scene in which the fairy godmothers used their wands to change the colour of her gown as she waltzed with her prince, it was her provincial dress—the brown-and-black midi with the corset top—that I begged my grandma to re-create for me. As an adult, dresses with V-shape waistlines are one of my many, many sartorial weaknesses—one that was somewhat difficult to come across. That, however, has changed, for drop waists are big news on the autumn/winter 2022 dress agenda. Trust me; now that you've seen them, you won't be able to stop seeing them. 

13. So Transparent

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(Image credit: COURTESY OF ANNA OCTOBER, COPERNI, @FOUREIRA, CECILIE BAHNSEN, @THATGIRLYURSA)

Whether it's your first time exploring Y2K style or, like me, a scroll of your social media feed leaves you feeling incredibly nostalgic, there's no denying the effect the movement is having on the world of fashion. Y2K dresses, then, should come as no surprise either, as designers have gone crazy for cowl necklines, handkerchief hemlines and acid-tone hues. However, the coolest way to channel your late-'90s fashion fantasy is with a see-through dress. While Coperni's styling might be considered not suitable for work, there are a multitude of other ways you can channel the trend. Why not layer yours over statement trousers just like my U.S. colleague Yursa Siddiqui did. Though, I must admit I am intrigued with transparent dresses worn with little else than your smallest of smalls. 

14. Brand to Bookmark: Farm Rio

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(Image credit: COURTESY OF FARM RIO, @EMILISINDLEV, @ALI_TATE_CUTLER)

I'm nothing if not organised, and even though my attention is currently focused on all things autumn, there is a part of me that's already looking forward to next summer. Yes, it's a problem. However, it occurs to me that some of you may be fortunate enough to 1) have a winter getaway planned, 2) live in a warmer climate, or indeed 3) are like to plan ahead as I do. If this is the case, then Farm Rio really ought to be on your radar. 

"From the moment I saw a Farm Rio dress for the first time, I felt like I was seeing a viral brand in the making," says Farrell. "To put it simply, these are dresses for those who really love getting ready in the morning. Joyous splashes of colour, print and texture (You know the feeling when you wear an outfit that stops people in the street to ask, 'Where did you get that from?'). Well, after largely spending last summer in minimalist ensembles and lamenting my lack of travel, this year summer came back with a bang, and Farm Rio seemed to tap into the optimistic energy of 2022. Clever cut-outs, one-shoulder necklines and the vibrancy of Rio de Janeiro make this brand the very definition of dopamine dressing."

Next Up, Autumn/Winter 2022 Trends: The 15 Fashion Looks You Need to Know About

Maxine Eggenberger
Deputy Editor

Maxine Eggenberger is Who What Wear UK’s deputy editor and has over twelve years of experience in fashion journalism. She been creating engaging and elevated style content for Who What Wear UK since 2018, covering runway reports, emerging trends, long-form features, self-styled shopping stories, and columns, including her edit of the best new-in buys. She ensures the highest editorial standards are met across the site, works closely with influencer talent on content initiatives, represents the brand at industry events, and regularly contributes to social media. Previously, Maxine appeared on TV in her own fashion segment and has interviewed countless celebrities—everyone from Victoria Beckham to Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o. 


Prior to Who What Wear UK, Maxine’s career began when, after completing her first-ever internship, she was offered a position on the Look magazine fashion desk. She accepted, leaving university a year early in the process. She went on to become the title's fashion news and commercial content editor, with a stint as InStyle.co.uk’s fashion writer along the way. She later served as Look’s acting Editor in Chief before embarking on a successful freelance career, working with Grazia, The Pool, and Marie Claire amongst others. Maxine works remotely from her countryside home near Edinburgh.