Don’t you just wish that you could put on a uniform some days and be done. Both my children have always attended private schools. There was never any option about what they were wearing everyday, the only thing that changed as they get older is what tie they decide to wear with their dress shirts and pants. Easy breezy! But life just isn’t that simple and you may be able to get away with ‘your uniform’ for a while but not forever.
So what is the next step. Well the Spring 2017 trend of Utilitarianism is just that. Elegant and sophisticated styling in beautiful spring colors worn head to toe or gently mixed together. Or to the casual side with wonderful subtle hues to mix with denim.
I just had a conversation with a friend of mine about what you tend to gravitate to fashion wise as you age. She swears by her Chanel ballet flats and has many colors and pairs. If you go to the most basic level those are her uniform shoes, but believe me she has excellent style and no one would ever accuse her of wearing a uniform. Who wouldn’t love these beautiful ballet flats! They are chic and timeless. And that is the type of style you want to embrace if you are going to wear the Utilitarian trend.
The kinds of things that are utilitarian is all the wonderful natural shades of clothing we are seeing everywhere. And it is a mixture of colors and styles. One of the best parts of this trend is that it mixes well with all the others and is perfect worn head to toe ( kind of like a uniform). Your basic Khaki dress ( J. Crew) can serve as a work uniform and is the perfect nod to the Utilitarian trend. Anthropologie has this fabulous version that can be worn on its own as a dress or over another one as a jacket . Don’t you just love a piece that can be that versatile! Wear it to work and then over your dress out for dinner.
Clothing and colors that completely own this trend are things like the Military jacket like this basic one you can find at Nordstrom in a toast color. Or you can take it up a notch and not be so basic while still being Utilitarian and wear a Military jacket but with a soft ruffle in the back. It completely feminizes this trend. The ruffled military jacket is from Anthro. All the shades of Khaki, brown, beige are this trends foundation. The soft pinks, blues and oranges are what rounds out this trend. Any soft hue, like this pink worn head to toe, can be the Utilitarian trend. And it can also be another trend while still being Utilitarian. Isn’t that what you want, something that can be worn like a uniform or mixed with everything else!
One piece of clothing we have seen for a while is the long vest I love it! This one is also from Anthro and can be worn over anything. Any long vest you already own in any of the colors above would work to be this trend.
Work attire is a no brainer with this trend. Suiting fits right in here. Not only does it work head to toe, you can wear a suit kind of like a uniform. But my suggestion is why do that, when you can add a bit of style to your suit and make it your own while still embracing this trend.
Start with a basic dress, like this fabulous one from J. Crew in a bi-stretch cotton. It fits the bill with color and classic style. You could wear this dress to the office as is or make it your own by adding this adorable link collar necklace (also J. Crew). Great for creating a serious business look with this dress. Or take a page from Ann Taylor’s style book and add a chic little silk scarf worn as a necklace like this Reed Garden Scarf.
You can always stick with a suit if that’s your comfort zone.This one is from J. Crew, it’s their Regent Blazer and Campbell trouser. Navy is fine, you can use it as a base and mix in beiges and Khaki’s if you want to pull a Utilitarian look together. Throw the Belted wool dress from J. crew underneath or try a softer blouse like this bell sleeve one also from J. Crew.
For the weekend wear your Navy blazer with Khaki’s like the ones with the blouse above. Wear your navy pants or jeans with this fab little pseudo trench ( J. Crew) and you have work and casual Untilitarian done!
What I think I like the best about the whole Utilitarian trend is that it is solid colors and tones on tones. Casual, evening wear, work wear I truly believe an all one color polished and sophisticated look is the best of all.
So what about casual wear? There is a lot of emphasis this season on fabrics and items that shimmer and glow. In my inbox today there was an email from Anthropologie that showed ‘Modern – Utility’ wear, they are showing the following: Their silk Lake Shore blouse in neutral motif with Fatigue crops. And this Abstract Tunic dress. Now neither of these pieces are solid color but they do have all the colors and muted tones we have been talking about and work to compliment all your khakis and beiges while you are wearing your Utilitarian pieces. One other item that was in this email was this Pia Silk Jacket. Now this jacket can take you anywhere. I would even wear it over the above dress. Love it with denim too.
Denim totally works into this trend for all your casual wear. Let’s face it, when we have a choice we would all rather wear a great pair of jeans!Here is a look put together by Nordstrom (Trouve Jacket, Hinge top and Treasure and Bond Jeans) that I think illustrates what you call Modern Untilitarian. This would look good on almost everyone.
Another label that really accentuates the Utilitarian in all their items is Eileen Fisher. Almost everything in their stores are muted and tone on tone and beautifully made. An iconic Eileen Fisher look is a simple dress and leggings. They make this dress in other colors and the leggings as well, so you could totally tone on tone it if you want. This is upscale Utilitarian but who wouldn’t look fabulous in this beautiful Poncho and white jeans. Love it!Or go even simpler with Eileen Fisher and wear a solid tunic over ankle pants. Accessorize this any way you want and you will always look polished!Casual dresses also work super well in this trend and this dress also by Eileen Fisher can really take you to any brunch or casual lunch. And one of my favorite Eileen Fisher looks that really illustrates a chic and polished Utilitarian look is this long cardigan and shell, paired with wide leg crops and a wonderful scarf.
Accessories here are super simple. Borrowing from Eileen Fisher again, you could never go wrong with a simple pair of ballet flats. Orfor a casual sandal try these Sign Sandals from Eileen Fisher. Super chic this season and super comfortable as only Eileen Fisher shoes are, this Kale sandal will fill all your mule needs this season. And for the office great with dresses and crops the Ann Sandal comes in both beige and black.
Jewellery is simple. A classic long or short necklace is all you need. This shorter Disc necklace by Madewell is perfect for an elegant Utilitarian look. Or if you want to draw the eye down, especially if you are layering, wear something like this Y Stone necklace from Nordstrom and pick a stone color that compliments your natural coloring and you can wear it with anything.
Purses and bags are all the ones with the simple muted colors. I love a bag with a bow so this pretty muted pink Ted Baker satchel would be something I would pick. Or use a messenger like this one from Marc Jacobs and you can always use a back pack just pick a super chic one like this one from Rebecca Minkoff.
So as you can tell I really like this trend. I am a firm believer in dressing to accentuate your best features. The Utilitarian trend with polish can do exactly that. Classic looks really look good on everyone, so give it a try. If you need help negotiating trends to find your perfect look just email me and we can set up a styling appointment. Email me at Suethefashionista@gmail.com. I will have some availability the last two weeks of May but unfortunately nothing sooner. Also look for my style ideas videos on Instagram. Follow me as Sue Hector on Instagram. I hope you are enjoying the spring blogs, once I finish going through all the trends I will go into accessories and make up and hair trends in detail for spring. So stay tuned!
Until next time…