It's time to talk summer trends for 2023! Spanning four cities, over 350 designer showcases and more celebrity model moments than you can shake a roll of body tape at, ask anyone in attendance, and they'll tell you that Fashion Month was back at its biggest and brightest for summer 2023. Having pivoted from perching on the front row to sitting in front of our laptops (cup of tea in hand) for the past few seasons, we expected some designers to entirely forgo the frivolity of "real-life" fashion shows in favour of the digital experience. This, however, was not the case; in fact, not a single virtual invitation landed in my inbox. Instead, with a 45% increase in shows compared to autumn/winter, designers appeared to come to the collective agreement that being together will always be better. And, my, did they make it worth washing our hair and putting on our best outfits for.
As we've established, physically attending shows certainly has its charms, and we're grateful that the jubilant omnipresence and full-blown spectacle had, for the most part, returned to Fashion Month. Still, it would be remiss of me not to mention perhaps the most desired guest at any runway: the smartphone. I hate to break it to you, but fashion editors aren't time travellers. Silliness aside, the reality is we can only be in one place at any given time, and with the sheer volume of shows in different vicinities—heck, different cities—it's impossible to be present at every single one. Cue social media, namely Instagram and TikTok, which gives us more access to the action than any backstage pass ever could and enables us to see every noteworthy second unfold as it happens. And summer 2023 proved to be curated with viral moments in mind.
"The season was dominated by the competition between designers to achieve the best audience engagement through the biggest viral flash," says Libby Page, all-round fashion expert and market director at Net-a-Porter. "Coperni was extremely imaginative with the sprayed-on dress worn by Bella Hadid for closing the show. Kim Kardashian at Dolce & Gabbana, Paris Hilton at Versace and Cher at Balmain demonstrated the power and influence celebrity endorsements have over the brand's popularity." However, it wasn't just A-list sashays that made for excellent viewing; the sets and spaces in which the shows themselves were held were just as integral to the aesthetic as the clothes or, indeed, the celebrity talent.
The iconic London skyline served as the Rejina Pyo backdrop, while Chanel created its very own black-and-white movie—starring its loyal ambassador Kristen Stewart, no less—that was projected upon a gargantuan screen, the scope of which can only be realised with the models walking in front of it for measurable context. "Courregès was a standout moment for me, seeing how they have evolved for S/S 23 and the show itself with the amazing set build and sand hourglass was a real highlight," says Heather Gramston, head of womenswear at Browns. "Not a new name, but Khaite deserves a mention as my New York Fashion Week highlight. The gritty after-dark styling and addition of the snake print was genius; my favourite piece of the season is, without a doubt, the snake-print leather oversized trench."
"I also thought Erdem's show at the British Museum was incredibly powerful," continues Page. "With the guests sat underneath the breathtaking pillars and perfect timing of the rain as soon as the show was over." Ah, London; you never miss a beat.
Being quite literally on our doorstep, London's offering always holds a special place in our hearts. For summer 2023, it was all the more poignant. This season, we saw a London Fashion Week like no other, as it fell during the official period of national mourning following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Some designers chose to postpone their shows—most notably Burberry, which has a long history of outfitting our country's royalty. Those who did go ahead as planned paid their tributes to the monarch in truly idiosyncratic and meaningful ways. Richard Quinn, who was honoured by the Queen when she presented him with the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design during his fashion week show in 2018, dedicated his S/S 23 collection to her. The show opened with an entirely black series of regal mourning gowns, paired with veils and crowns, as vintage footage of the Queen played on screens in the centre of the runway, subsequently capturing the quiet reflection that enveloped the usually bustling streets of the nation's capital at that time.
Just as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II assured in a televised address in 2020, we did indeed meet again. "After two years of pandemic-related disruptions, S/S 23 felt like the fashion world had finally returned to its busy and buzzy schedule," says Morgane Le Caer, fashion expert and content editor at Lyst. But what are the top spring/summer fashion trends for 2023, I hear you exclaim? Well, let's get right down to it.
"The collections were a sartorial tale of two extremes," continues Le Caer. "Bright colours, gawdy metallics, and bold 3D florals clashed against 50 shades of black and white, elevated basics and contemporary formalwear—and the result was an exciting mix of decadent theatricality and pared-back designs."
"For summer 2023, we saw designers creating wearable yet interesting clothes, with a shift towards hard-working, effortless pieces," says Liane Wiggins, head of womenswear at MATCHESFASHION. "In addition, there were redefined craft techniques not yet seen before, giving customers new reasons to invest in emotive yet wearable garments. It was a real shift to modern luxurious wardrobing and interesting, accessible tailoring to fit all lifestyles, which, after many seasons of high occasionwear, was refreshing to see.”
From my standpoint, there does feel to be a distinct shift from the extreme sexiness that has populated recent collections. Even sheer textiles, which remain very much a thing for summer 2023, are approached in an entirely different manner, worn with sweatshirts in place of sky-high heels. And what of the Y2K aesthetic? Although hints of it remain sprinkled throughout the season, a certain refinement now comes with it. Cargo trousers have been elevated with exquisite tailoring in lighter fabrications, while the S/S 23 take on the '90s feels more Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy in Calvin Klein than, say, Cher Horowitz (who, in all fairness, also looked incredible in Calvin Klein). Still, that's not to say there's no fun to be had! As Le Caer surmises, the collections created a story with two endings: one of pared-back elegance and a focus on wardrobe fundamentals. The other? An explosion of fun and colour and shine and unapologetic maximalism! Halpern encapsulated this with its epic '80s-themed party, to which everyone is invited. They may sit at opposite ends of the fashion spectrum, but the sentiment laid out by designers is clear; whatever aesthetic you choose, commit to it wholeheartedly.
Thinking back, many of the trends showcased this season were a continuation of those displayed on the autumn runways, ensuring that nothing we just recently splurged on will go to waste. This is, perhaps, the most important takeaway of them all. Fashion is cyclical—I know we say this all the time, but it's true!—and any piece you invest in, be it inspired by the trends outlined below or otherwise, should only be purchased if you intend on keeping it in your wardrobe for a very, very long time.
Now, without further ado, keep reading for the the rundown of the most noteworthy summer 2023 fashion trends as told by the experts, including some of my esteemed colleagues.
In a diplomatic turn, designers have extended the lifespan of some noteworthy A/W 22 trends, continuing their exploration of them in 2023, ensuring we get adequate wear out of the pieces in which we've already invested. Elevated basics is one such trend. Last season, there was a clear '90s directive when it came to minimalism, with logo vests, low-slung trousers and tube dresses being hero items. Now, things have been pared back even further; sure, Y2K maxi skirts and oversized suiting are very much a thing, as witnessed on the runways of Peter Do and Roksanda respectively, but the silhouettes are cleaner and the colour palette looks more expensive; think shades of teal, camel and navy.
"Summer 2023 marks the reinstatement of simplicity and everyday dressing to our wardrobes, with brands such as Bottega Veneta, Valentino, The Row and Ferragamo embracing simplicity across their collections and are clearly anticipating that customers will be adopting this approach to dressing. The mood also translated into non-apparel, including wrist-length gloves, ruched socks with simple plimsolls and Loewe’s pared-back logo tote, leading us to back this style with almost 500 units across eight variations," says Libby Page, market director and style expert at Net-a-Porter.
This looks as if it's come straight from Gwyneth Paltrow's wardrobe archives.
Metallics are commonplace in autumn/winter collections, particularly as our social calendars fill up with glamorous after-dark pursuits we want to shine for. For summer, however, a surprisingly fresh range of shimmering gold and silver pieces has transformed the metallic trend into a perennial favourite. In lieu of lightweight lamé, there’s an exploration of thicker fabrications such as leather and packed-together sequins. I just know Tory Burch’s gold coat is going to be a honey trap for fashion magpies.
"Interesting metallics were a standout trend for the season, with highlights including Jil Sander’s incredible fabric developments (bouncy metallic chenille, silver sequins and high craft techniques) as well as Christopher Kane’s metallic chainmail," says Liane Wiggins, head of womenswear and fashion expert at MATCHESFASHION.
"In-house, we call this trend 'Magpie Moments,' a continuation from winter's annual trophy dressing but less about full sequin looks and more about adding liquid shine and turning the simplest of everyday items into styles to standout in," says Page.
This will look incredibly chic styled with a white shirt and black slingback shoes.
Pair these standout trousers with a denim shirt and black flat shoes for a low-key styling solution.
I get it. Some of the trends on this list might not translate seamlessly into everyday life (if you're prepared to wear a completely sheer skirt to run errands in, more power to you). However, if you're looking to invest in something you'll genuinely get the wear of, look no further. Between wide-legs and puddle hemlines, slouchy-fit trousers were one of the biggest trends last year. Now, for summer 2023, the best jeans will feature these same design traits. From high-waisted dark-wash flares at Tibi to Bally's effortless double-denim moment complete with floor-grazing lengths, looser-fit denim is resolutely where it's at.
"It's no surprise that a post-lockdown world is leaning towards more relaxed silhouettes, especially when it comes to our denim choices. I spend a lot of my days on social media (for work, naturally), and the jeans styles that I'm seeing across TikTok, Instagram and Pinterest are so relaxed they might as well be joggers. As the world's number one fan of wide-leg trousers, I'm so happy that the grip skinny jeans had on us is finally over. Now, for the real stuff—this denim style can feel quite daunting if you're new to it. Me? I'll be taking styling cues from the master of jeans himself, Asake. IYKYK. And if you don't, you're in for a treat when you Google 'Asake jeans'," says Joy Ejaria, social media editor at Who What Wear UK.
These jeans come in an extended size range.
Fashion likes to work in extremes; typically, you have the overtly oversized and the impossibly teeny tiny, (and everything in between is something of a footnote). For the past few seasons, we've seen the latter proportion dominate—Fendi created a microscopic version of its iconic Baguette, while Jacquemus's infamous Le Chiquito has handles bigger than its main compartment. No doubt about it, these bags are fun, but if you're more practically wired (I know I am), then you too will laud the return of the jumbo tote, as seen at Loewe, Bottega Veneta, Chloé and a slew of other designer heavyweights known for their arm candy.
"Big bags have become a favourite among celebrities, and Saint Laurent’s quilted Icare tote became a trending product for the brand after it was worn by Zoë Kravitz and Hailey Bieber—searches spiked 145% in August after Bella Hadid was spotted carrying it," says Morgane Le Caer, fashion expert and content editor at Lyst..
There are plenty of designer options to tempt you, but I can't fault this style from COS.
Fashion's fascination with knitwear doesn't disappear with winter; much like the leaves on the tress and the flowers in the ground, it regenerates into something beautiful. Crochet often returns when temperatures begin to rise, only this time around, it's less about tight purls and moss stitches and more about open, cobweb-like weave work.
"Crochet featured in so many collections, from The Row to Gabriela Hearst and Proenza Schouler, and spoke as part of a larger and refined craftsmanship trend. We especially loved Proenza Schouler’s gold metallic crochet midi skirts, halter-neck tops and flared trousers," says Wiggins.
Since attending the shows back in September, I must have looked at well over 10,000 runway images to discern the looks I'd include in this, our bumper summer 2023 fashion trend overview. (That's no exaggeration by the way; if you take 350 shows with, say, 30 models each, the number quickly racks up.) Some trends take some digging to unearth, but others? Well, they're pretty hard to miss. Green falls into the latter category.
A subtle move on from Kelly green—a true grass green—if I had an hour to spare, I could list all the designers that included zesty shades in their collections. Instead, I'll leave you with some more impressive numbers."There was an average of 39,000 page views each month this year for green products on Lyst," says Le Caer. Coincidence? There's no such thing.
Just add your favourite trousers.
I won't waste your time by quoting perhaps the most famous line in fashion-themed cinematic history, but let's just say florals are hardly revolutionary when it comes to the warmer months. At least they weren't until designers decided to double down on the trend and give it the gusto it has long been craving for with a new take on blooms. We spotted a plethora of pretty 3D floral embellishments across plenty of collections, from Magda Butrym's rosette choker to Loewe's Anthuriums of epic portions.
"For summer 2023, there was a more surrealist interpretation with standout 3D designs and runway looks embellished with floral motifs. Standouts included provocative sculptural flowers on mini and maxi dresses paired with bold leaf shoes," says Page.
Give your existing wares the 3D floral treatment with this incredible choker necklace.
"Not a tie-dye girl yet fed up to the back teeth with ditsy florals? Then a new wave of digitally manipulated, mind-bending blurry prints will provide you with some sweet patterned relief for the coming season—they're certainly my number one choice when it comes to adding a new, unique motif into my heavily printed repertoire," says Hannah Almassi, editor in chief at Who What Wear UK.
"The movement could be traced back to Jonathan Anderson's cult-adored blur-print tube dresses from Loewe last summer—the designer kick-started a revival for formfitting trompe l'oeil and cyber prints, and the look appears to be holding strong for S/S 23. But there is also another side to this creative coin; I've noticed an air of bohemia for smudgy surface patterns, with some designers combining lighter-weight, billowing fabrics alongside painterly ombrés to great effect. It's very 'I work in the arts, darling.'"
I can think of three top-tier influencers who already own this top.
Gen Z call it "indie sleaze." I call it my wardrobe when I was 17. Either way, there was an edgy sensibility to many of the summer 2023 runways that, although it's hard for me to admit, does equate to nostalgia. Think muddy hues, distressed denim, long-sleeve tops layered under grubby tees, army jackets and chunky silver hardware. "Modern utility detailing was peppered throughout the majority of S/S 23 collections, with oversized pockets and cargo shapes spotted at Fendi, Blumarine, Miu Miu," says Heather Gramston, style expert and head of womenswear at Browns.
"We saw the '90s and '00s, be that grunge or minimalism, firmly returning to fashion with denim maxi skirts, bomber jackets and biker jackets. We have invested in nine styles from both the runway and true denim brands to scout out the perfect fit, length and wash," says Page.
You can practically taste the teenage angst coming off of this gauzy layering top.
A very sleek interpretation of the cargo trouser trend.
Every buyer I have spoken to has been most excited by the many pairs of perfectly cut trousers in the summer 2023 collections, which actually should hardly come as a surprise. It's been the year of the trouser after all, and that looks set to continue as designers have become more and more playful with their pants. From pedal pushers to wide-leg, cargos to puddle hemlines, the gang's all here, and just in the nick of time.
According to Le Caer, post–Fashion Month searches for trousers were up 55% on Lyst. That tells me all I need to know.
If you're new to the wide-leg trouser trend, Reformation's bestselling Mason pants are a great place to start.
"Nothing says springtime like white cotton. Slightly cropped embroidered blouses, loose-fitting shirts and oversized tent dresses really do make up the DNA of my wardrobe in the warmer months. What’s so fresh about S/S 23’s version of this summer classic is that it doesn’t just come courtesy of cotton. In fact, you’ll find PVC ruffles from Batsheva, sequin suits and Coperni’s now-iconic spray-on dress made with new innovative material, Fabrica," says Rebecca Rhys-Evans, branded content editor at Who What Wear UK.
"It seems this season is upping the ante when it comes to wearing whites, forging newfound design methods and experimenting with untraditional fabrics for the season. Of course, the real challenge is not how to style a colour so brilliantly simple but how to keep it clean. My advice? Stay clear of all coloured foods, children and the Central Line," adds Rhys-Evans.