Summer 2018 Fashion Trends: The Only Looks You Need to Know

The spring/summer 2018 fashion trends are nothing if not bright, bold and really quite beautiful. In fact, it was a show season full of actual fashion moments, and that's not hyperbole. I'm talking about the type that had even the coolest fashion critics reaching for their Google Pixel 2 cameraphones. And the one catwalk that really set the tone, impressed everyone and just so happened to tick off almost every S/S 18 trend under the sun was, of course, Versace.

This was the kind of collection that deserves to be attached to the word iconic, and that makes sense once you know that the whole glamorous affair was a tribute to Gianni Versace at the 20-year mark of his untimely death. His bold vision and original supermodels came back to the fore once more, thanks to his sister Donatella Versace's creative direction.

Jaws dropped to the floor. Shopping lists were supercharged. Stylists and A-listers will have to fight it out for samples to wear before the collection lands next year. And we all remembered a time when supermodels really were quite super—just look at Naomi, Eva, Carla, Cindy and Claudia resplendent in gold chainmail below.


(Image credit: Getty Images)

This Milanese moment was three weeks into a monthlong catwalk circuit, and it neatly tied up a few notions we'd been jotting down: Colour is key (whether bold or pastel), the '80s won't quit, and if you're going to do power dressing in our current times, you don't have to be all shoulders and stilettos—but the option is most definitely there.

Shifting gears from the street's athleisure boom, there's a prettier, softer mood in the air, and anyone who likes to dress up will be thrilled. Minimalists and tomboys have plenty to choose from too: Next year is trouser-suit and flat-shoe heaven. Keep reading to discover summer 2018's top fashion trends, from colours to prints, key pieces to new details.



1980s by Day
(Image credit: Getty Images; Pictured (left to right): Y Project, Off-White, Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini)

Designers have eschewed all other eras to focus very clearly on the 1980s. The silhouettes are all in place (think nipped waists, strong shoulders and long legs), and the muses are ones you'll instantly be able to imagine: Diana, Princess of Wales, continues to influence high-fashion places, with Off-White's Virgil Abloh citing the late style icon as his inspiration for his spring collection.

If you buy one thing… make it straight-leg jeans


1980s by Night
(Image credit: Getty Images; Pictured (left to right): Emanuel Ungaro, Saint Laurent, Halpern)

There are two quite distinct '80s camps this time around, and it may well be that the more casual looks of the decade appeal to you more than the delightfully over-the-top eveningwear options from the likes of Saint Laurent. Just a plain pair of high-waisted jeans wedged into white ankles boots and worn with a loose-fit top tucked in will suffice for spring.

If you buy one thing… make it spiky going-out shoes


And then there are certain spring items that not only act as the glue that holds all other, more transient trends together but are also investment pieces set to last a lifetime. Here are the more classic items that cropped up the most…


Trench Coats
(Image credit: Getty Images; Pictured (left to right): Balenciaga, Céline, Bottega Veneta)

Related: 9 Street Style Trends That Have Defined 2018 Thus Far

Whether deconstructed and warped into something quite unusual (see Balenciaga's where the front is a trench while the back splits into a denim overcoat) or adhering to tradition, there was a trench coat on almost every important runway we could think of. To be worn with everything from bikinis to boardroom attire.

Itching to pick some up now? You can already shop our edit of the best trench coats.

If you buy one thing… make it a slouchy silhouette


(Image credit: Getty Images; Pictured (left to right): Louis Vuitton, Lacoste, Prada)

It was Nicholas Ghesquière's futuristic, thick-soled trainers for Louis Vuitton that really got the crowds going during the tail end of Paris Fashion Week. However, many geeky sneaks existed in other influential places. Expect to see girls emulating the socks-and-Velcro of Prada any day now.

Ready to snag some already? See the five best pairs of classic trainers you'll ever own.

If you buy one thing… make it chunky sneaks


Trouser Suits
(Image credit: Shutterstock, Getty Images; Pictured (left to right): Rejina Pyo, Dior, Chloé)

If there's one thing worth spending some money on, it's a perfectly tailored suit. These days you can find the style to match your personal taste because the concept is a now constant fixture on the runways. Whether you want to make a statement (Chloé's horse-motif velvet suit is going to be a street style hit—mark our words) or opt for something subtler, there are 1001 versions out there. And the best part is they won't date. 

Nabbed one but want to know what to do with it? Check out our guide to wearing a trouser suit.

If you buy one thing… make it a pink blazer


Bum Bags and Belt Bags
(Image credit: Getty Images; Pictured (left to right): Balenciaga, Gucci, Faustine Steinmetz)

There's a real gamut of bag trends for S/S 18, but if one stands head and shoulders (and waist?) above the rest, it is the bum bag, or belt bag, should you want to sound more sophisticated. So many iterations exist, from the sporty pouches you'll see style setters wearing crossbody through to luxe leather options courtesy of—who else?—Gucci.

If you're not so patient to wait for the collections to hit stores, shop the coolest belt bags and bumbags available now.

If you buy one thing… make it a style with enough room


Pencil Skirts
(Image credit: Getty Images; Pictured (left to right): Rochas, Hermès, Tod's)

Should the past few years of leggings and track pants have destroyed your old-fashioned fashion soul, rejoice in the pencil-skirt comeback. This time around, they are longer-lined and therefore more flattering. They will replace your full-skirted midis for the time being but are always worth keeping for the future. Net-a-Porter has predicted this silhouette will be a big seller for them in 2018—you heard it here first. And if you're wondering which way to style yours, get more info on how to wear a pencil skirt.

If you buy one thing… make it a go-with-everything colour or print


Waist Belts
(Image credit: Getty Images; Pictured (left to right): Sonia Rykiel, Veronique Leroy, Nina Ricci)

It doesn't matter what kind of belt—just know that a waist belt is integral to the season's bigger shapes and volumes. Belt jackets, sling a chain belt over a slinky dress, fasten a man's shirt… use it, daily, without fail.

Check out the many ways to wear a belt.

If you buy one thing… make it a statement

Related: You Only Need 9 Pieces for a Complete Spring Capsule Wardrobe


These aren't so much microtrends as small but important shifts we've noticed filtering through many of the most significant designer collections. If you aren't ready to commit to a retro getup or don't fancy the below brights, tap into these subtler looks and ideas below.


Shoulders Are Everything
(Image credit: Shutterstock, Getty Images; Pictured (left to right): Marques'Almeida, Lemaire, Isabel Marant)

Call it a backlash to this year's omnipresent off-the-shoulder looks or just a calmer continuation of the 1980s trend we charted above, but big, big, big shoulders and sleeves are everywhere for spring. Most commonly, they're rendered in soft blouses and shirts so that you can easily counterbalance the dramatic proportions with a miniskirt, like at Isabel Marant, or feel just fine 'n' breezy wearing a billowing outfit head to toe.

If you buy one thing… make it a white blouse


(Image credit: Shutterstock, Getty Images; Pictured (left to right): Christopher Kane, Attico, Chanel)

Crystals, clear PVC and silver sparkle skipped straight from the party season and into the S/S 18 offering. From the understated (a smattering here and there at Attico) to the downright dedicated (see Chanel's fantastic plastics and bling jewels), there's a veritable bounty to mine.

If you buy one thing… make it bling earrings


"Raw" Fabrics
(Image credit: Getty Images; Pictured (left to right): Altuzarra, Loewe, Roksanda)

Think linens and sawn-off edges, washed cotton drills and woven leathers, all in an earthy colour palette of creams, oatmeals and off-whites. This is the new, more worn-in way to do minimalism. How I imagine it? The Little Mermaid's makeshift sail-and-rope outfit as she embarks on her land adventure, only far more luxe and costly, clearly.

If you buy one thing… make it a summer skirt


Loud Logos
(Image credit: Getty Images; Pictured (left to right): Gucci, Balmain, Fendi)

Fendi! Gucci! Balmain! Versace! Balenciaga! Calvin Klein! No major brand could leave their own labelling alone for S/S 18, and we can't blame them—if you're spending the big bucks, you may as well shout it from the sartorial rooftops. Our money? Going all on that vintage-look Fendi monogram bag. Want to shop now? See our roundup of the logo fashion trend.

If you buy one thing… make it a logo tee



Summer Plaid
(Image credit: Getty Images; Pictured (left to right): Sacai, Alexander McQueen, Versus by Versace)

Just when you thought plaids and tartans were only for the colder months, along comes this charge of checked goods for spring. It's partly in thanks to the fact that designers are considering the all-year-round use required of major fashion investments, so these power-print pieces have the long-game in view. Looking for styling ideas? Here's some gingham outfit inspiration.

If you buy one thing… make it plaid pants


Polka Dots
(Image credit: Getty Images; Pictured (left to right): Valentino, MM6, Self-Portrait)

Related: All the Iconic Princess Diana Outfits We Want to See on The Crown

Carrying on from this year's polka-dot popularity, you will find many a spotted item heading into stores for 2018. The memo? Keep it monochrome and keep it in cool, modern shapes to avoid looking like a 1950s housewife. Wondering the latest way to style the look? See how the street style set wears polka dots in winter.

If you buy one thing… make it a polka-dot tea dress


Vintage Florals
(Image credit: Getty Images; Pictured (left to right): Dolce & Gabbana, Alessandra Rich, Erdem)

Talking of housewives, there has been a resurgence on the runways for vintage-look florals, the kind women would have once worn in the '40s and '50s. Floral dresses are a surefire seller for retailers, so it's no great wonder savvy brands are looking to how they can reimagine them within their individual aesthetics. Alessandra Rich's tea dresses have already been adopted by the fashion set—you'll see more of them soon. In the meantime, shop our edit of the best floral dresses.

If you buy one thing… make it a flattering midi



Crazy Brights
(Image credit: Getty Images; Pictured (left to right): MSGM, Versace, Preen by Thornton Bregazzi)

Whoa, put some shades on because things are about to get high-octane in here. From primary shades through to neon accents, when designers committed to spring's bold hues, they knew they had to go hard or go home. Expect to see vibrant pinks, reds, yellows and more worn in either monochrome blocks or artfully spliced together—apparently not to be toned down with a neutral or two. To get the look with your wardrobe, see our guide on how to wear colour in spring.

If you buy one thing… make it a bright-red swimsuit

Related: The 10 Biggest Shoe Trends of 2018 Are in and Shoppable Right Now


Power Pastels
(Image credit: Getty Images; Pictured (left to right): Dries Van Noten, Emilia Wickstead, Céline)

On the flipside, but still just as punchy, you'll find mix 'n' match ultra-pastels being adopted everywhere from New York to London and back again. Hippest when worn together in the weirdest combos possible: See Céline for the lemon, lilac, purple and beige formula we'd like to copy. See Pantone's colour predictions for more info.

If you buy one thing… make it an easy pastel bag


Yellow Dresses
(Image credit: Getty Images; Pictured (left to right): Tibi, Sies Marjan, Calvin Klein 205W39NYC)

And if there's just one colour in one key item to really think about, it's the yellow dress. Not for shy and retiring canaries, this trend is more Big Bird: Think full-coverage yellow, worn in even the darkest days of spring to cheer everyone else up. Luxury boutiques have seen sales of yellow dresses spiking this year, and more are coming to satisfy demand. And if you're really into the look, check out our list of the most iconic yellow dresses of all time.

If you buy one thing… make it a yellow floral dress

Hannah Almassi
Editor in Chief

Hannah Almassi is the Editor in Chief of Who What Wear UK. Hannah has been part of the the Who What Wear brand since 2015, when she was headhunted to launch the UK sister site and social channels, implement a localised content strategy and build out the editorial team. She joined following a seven-year tenure at Grazia magazine, where she led front-of-book news, fashion features and shopping specials as fashion news and features editor. With experience in both print and digital across fashion and beauty, Hannah has over 16 years in the field as a journalist, editor, content strategist and brand consultant. Hannah has interviewed industry heavyweights such as designers including Marc Jacobs and Jonathan Anderson through to arbiters of taste including Katie Grand and Anna Dello Russo. A skilled moderator and lecturer specialising in the shift to digital media and e-commerce, Hannah’s opinion and work has been sought by the likes of CNBC, BBC, The Sunday Times Style, The Times, The Telegraph and, among many others. Hannah is often called upon for her take on trends, becoming known as a person with their finger of the pulse of what’s happening in the fashion space for stylish Brits. Hannah currently resides in Eastbourne with her photographer husband, incredibly busy son and highly Instagrammable cat.