Fall is just around the corner, and the collections this season center on a strong sense of identity. It's an exciting time to dress, but assembling a fall wardrobe may take a little soul-searching. For example, there seemed to be a runway tug-of-war between powerful and playful, and it's understandable if you feel a little lost in the middle. Consider the streamlined silhouettes at Céline versus the colorful wigs and cartoonish sweatshirts at Givenchy, or clean check coats and trousers at Stella McCartney compared with Saint Laurent's sparkly tights and deconstructed flannel. Do you gravitate towards austere lines and serious shoulders or fun prints and punchy embellishments? Here, two Vogue writers explore their own fashion baselines on opposite ends of this season's spectrum: one leaning toward teenage-inspired style, the other looking to luxe minimalism borrowed from the older set.
See more: Behind the Scenes at Jennifer Lawrence's September Cover Shoot
TEEN SPIRIT by Chioma Nnadi
Earlier this summer, during a late-night eBay bidding war, I came face-to-face with the image of my inner child. The prize? A pair of limited-edition Mickey Mouse Vans that my fifteen-year-old cousin Elvis would probably fight me for (besides a passion for sneakers, we share the same shoe size). Ultimately I was outbid by a buyer in Ohio who, judging by his shopping history-Supreme skate decks, vintage Polo Sport teddy bear sweatshirts-was probably half my age, too. As a woman in her early thirties, was I too old to be dressing like a sulky teenage boy? The straightforward answer to this question would be yes, especially given the fall collections. With Hitchcockian heroines at Prada, leather-clad urban warriors at Altuzarra, and discreet 'n' chic ladies at Céline, the overarching message of the season seemed to be I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar. And yet I would argue that a whiff of teen spirit has a place in our wardrobes right now. As far as runway examples go, none was more convincing-or controversial-than Hedi Slimane's fall debut for Saint Laurent, which heralded the return of grunge styling not seen since Kurt and Courtney's heyday.
That being said, I'm not about to run out and buy a baby-doll dress just yet. My fixation with vintage Snoopy memorabilia and bootleg Bart Simpson tees (there's an Instagram account, @bootlegbart, dedicated to the late-nineties phenom for overgrown adolescents like me) has less to do with the current trends than it does my own personal style, which will be forever tethered to a subtle sense of goofiness. Luckily there are ways to dress with playful irreverence that don't lead down the path to never-never land altogether. Carine Roitfeld did it right on the red carpet when she showed up to this year's Met Gala in a lacy Givenchy sweatshirt emblazoned with a doe-eyed illustration of Bambi-one part punk, one part Peter Pan complex, zero seriousness. Then there's West Coast style blogger Jayne Min, who manages to find the tipping point of streetwear staples like Timbs, beanie hats, Adidas shell-toes, and a closet of Céline, Marni, and Acne Studios. And as much as we all covet Phoebe Philo's designs, I, for one, envy her sneaker collection, too. If that's what teenage kicks look like these days, then I'll take them.
See more: J.Law's Best Red Carpet Looks
GRANDMA CHIC by Katherine Bernard
There's a photo I keep by my desk of my grandmother pushing infant-me on a swing at the park. In it, she's wearing a hearty eggshell sweater with a popped white color underneath, and a pair of slim Nantucket-red pants with gray Birkenstocks. Her gray hair is slightly mussed. The look is thoughtful but relaxed, luxurious but simple. When I think about fashion headlines aimed at twentysomethings-The Sexiest Jeans for Your Shape, Flirty Dresses for Fall, What Your Shoes Say About You-it's no wonder I prefer to dress like a chic grandma: Why wouldn't I want to emulate women who are past this age of endless searching for what's right for them? Older women know what works and wear it.
Perhaps I'm faking it until I make it, but at 26, I have an old fashion soul. I love suits with silk details, d'Orsay shoes, roomy lady trousers, and thick boat-neck knits (you won't find a bandage dress in the bunch). Like a discerning member of the seventysomething set, I eschew trendy cuts in favor of classic, flattering silhouettes: a big coat with a fitted turtleneck, slim pant legs with loafers, and structured cover-ups over a dress. This fall, Proenza's spartan palette, roomy jackets, and kitten heels left me breathless. On others I can appreciate the cool factor of Saint Laurent's leather minis or Rodarte's bright neon tie-dye, but I truly feel like myself swathed in a giant coat or silk blazer à la The Row. The clothes are comfortable but not apathetic. I'm not opposed to a playful accessory, but I feel anxious in anything glittery, horse or cat prints, and any shape that might inspire a person use the word booty or free-spirited.
Most likely, the psychological nugget at the center of my senior admiration is that during a decade of life that's characteristically fraught with identity crisis and social reconfiguring, I want to at least dress like I'm self-actualized and sound of mind. It certainly helps that, right now, runway fashion is all about powerful women free of constrained clothes or infantilizing cuteness. It's cool to dress with a sense of subtle, practical beauty.
See more from Vogue:
Best Met Gala Looks of All Time
Michelle Obama's Best-Dressed Moments
The Sexiest You: Lingerie Guide
Today on Yahoo
1 - 6 of 48