Here at Who What Wear UK, we’re not afraid to call ourselves experts when it comes to seeking out the latest trends. Whether we’re attending shows or combing through lookbooks and street style pics, we can instantly spot a designer-backed trend that will go the distance, but what we actually end up wearing can often be slightly different.
Therein lies the difference between a major trend and micro one; take the miniskirt as an example. Although the 2020 runways were awash with teeny-weeny skirts no bigger than belts, we were at home indulging in luxe loungewear. And although TikTok would have us believe that everyone is stocking up on ultra-baggy, low-slung jeans, our wardrobes are still full of flattering high-waisted and straight-leg cuts. So, how can we tell if we’re really onto something? Whether it's a new accessory, an updated silhouette or a styling tweak, microtrends are the quick and easy swaps that can help bring an outfit up to date without having to drastically change your entire aesthetic. Wondering which microtrends feel fresh for the season ahead? We asked Madé Lapuerta, an expert in all things trending, for her insights into spring 2024 and what people really want to wear now.
Lapuerta, better known on Instagram as @databutmakeitfashion, uses her background in computer science to analyse the runways and track searches to pull together the data that shows which microtrends really have an impact on fashion discourse each season, and the results just might surprise you. Whilst the S/S’24 runways tell a tale of ethereal, ultra-feminine romanticism and social media urges us to buy into a mob-wife-meets-eclectic-grandpa hybrid, the truth falls somewhere in the middle, and Lapuerta has identified six key microtrends that have crossed over from A/W ’23 and are making their way into our current rotations (and she has the stats to back it all up).
Should you be stuck somewhere between wanting to invest in timeless, "anti-trend" classics and wanting to keep things current, you’ve come to the right place. A word of caution though: as with any trend rundown, we always advocate for smart shopping first and foremost and never advise jumping on a trend just because it's currently everywhere (the same goes for what you'll see below). Instead, we’re happy to critically test the pieces getting the most traction to decide how much longevity they have. (And sure, legwarmers might have been popular on the street style circuit last year, but we just couldn’t see ourselves wearing them again in ten years, so don’t expect to catch them on this list).
So without further ado, let's look forward to the most discussed items from the end of 2023 that will influence the rest of 2024.
1. Off-The-Shoulder Tops: As Seen in 2% of Runway Collections
Style Notes: Granted, 2% might not sound like much, but given that this covers the resort, pre-fall and main shows at every major city that shows during fashion month, that's quite a lot of shoulder-bearing necklines. Not since the return of the bandeau top have we discussed a '90s throwback with quite so much enthusiasm, and the modest approach to showing just a hint of skin makes this the perfect transitional top; not only for winter to spring, but also desk-to-dinner too.
2. Skinny Jeans: Popularity Up 50%
Style Notes: This is guaranteed to elicit a strong reaction, and whether it’s excitement or disdain, please do not shoot the messenger. As much as we may have collectively agreed that there is so much more to denim than skinny jeans, it hasn't stopped us from talking about them so much that favourable discussion around the ultra-slim silhouette has risen 50% since January. Given that we’ve run through mom jeans, boyfriend jeans, flares, the baggy and the barrel over the past 10 years, it's been a long time since the skinny had the spotlight. Perhaps a flirtation with wide-leg jeans during a particularly wet winter was the final straw, but either way, if you’re looking for a new denim trend this season, it might be time to revisit an old one.
3. Costume Jewellery: As Seen in 5% of Runway Collections
Style Notes: You don't need Lapuerta's eagle eye to have noticed that one of the biggest jewellery trends of the last couple of years is costume jewellery. Big, chunky, ornate and statement pieces have gilded the runways of everyone from Alexander McQueen to Schiaparelli, and this burgeoning trend is starting to replace the subtle accessorising that went hand in hand with the rise of the quiet-luxury and "clean girl" aesthetics. There’s something retro, tongue-in-cheek and a little bit camp about this "more is more" maximalism, and we can’t help but co-sign any trend that helps to inject the fun back into dressing up in such a major way.
4. Leopard Print: The Follower-Voted Favourite
Style Notes: What do Nina Ricci, Jacquemus and Dolce & Gabbana all have in common? A penchant for leopard print, of course. Celine even showed leopard-print pieces in both its A/W '23 and S/S '24 shows, proving that we as a people are still hot for the spot. Should you need further proof, followers of Data, But Make It Fashion cast their votes, and 70% agreed that leopard was a key neutral for S'/S '24. Still need convincing that leopard print is more fashion and less feral? Take a look at the versatile print clash styling references from Rixo and Reformation's head-to-toe take.
5. High-Heeled, Over-the-Knee Boots: As Seen in 7% of Runway Collections
Style Notes: After a longstanding love affair with knee-high boots, it was only a matter of time before the trend inched its way up to new heights, literally. Over-the-Knee boots are perhaps a rogue choice for what should be the sunnier seasons, but until the Great British weather delivers a bright and balmy day, there’s still plenty of wear to get out of this tall boot style, particularly when paired with a short skirt and cosy knit, and it would seem that designers would agree; Alaïa, David Koma and Versace putting thigh-highs front and centre after they cropped up in dozens of A/W ’23 shows.
6. Stripes: As Seen in 4% of Runway Collections
Style Notes: From Adidas x Wales Bonner’s sporting stripes to Zimmerman’s business-class pinstripes, this simple print has the kind of universal appeal rarely afforded to anything outside of neutrals, and our editors were firm believers that stripes would take off as far back as February 2023. As the old saying goes, "If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it", and stripes manage to bounce back each year with only minor updates needed to make them feel relevant again. If the popularity of Toteme's turtleneck Breton, The Frankie Shop's PJ pants and With Nothing Underneath's striped boyfriend shirt are anything to go by, those who aren't stocking up on leopard will undoubtedly be drawn to graphic stripes.
Remy Farrell is a London-based shopping editor with nearly 10 years of editorial experience covering fashion, beauty and lifestyle. After graduating with a journalism degree and working on the editorial and fashion teams for titles such as Grazia, Elle, Cosmopolitan and British Vogue, she moved into the luxury e-commerce sector, working as fashion assistant at TheOutnet.com styling for the social media channels and helping to develop the collections for the in-house brand Iris & Ink. After expanding an assisting and styling portfolio that includes shooting talent such as Gigi Hadid, Victoria Beckham and Miquita Oliver, she also branched out into beauty, creating tried-and-tested reviews and diverse beauty content.
In her role as shopping editor at Who What Wear, Remy is interested in discovering new and exciting brands to share with the Who What Wear readership and particularly loves uncovering hidden gems at affordable prices to make shopping accessible to everyone.
Born and raised in Sheffield, Yorkshire, Remy moved to London in 2014 and lives in the Docklands with her partner and pug Billie.
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