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Why it's time to try the new 'no season' wardrobe

creative consultant Alexis Foreman, Ukrainian Vogue’s Julie Pelipas and influencer Pernille Teisbaek
No-season poster girls (left to right) creative consultant Alexis Foreman, Ukrainian Vogue’s Julie Pelipas and influencer Pernille Teisbaek Credit: GETTY IMAGES

You might be feeling the chill right now and reaching for the woollens for the first time in months, but it appears that ‘seasons’, as we know them in the fashion world, are over. Just look at the spring/summer 2020 catwalks. You’d never have known these were spring and summer collections. At Victoria Beckham, thin-knit polo necks were layered under trouser suits, which were in turn covered by lightweight outerwear. At Bottega Veneta, an ankle-skimming sky-blue trench-cum-dress was paired with barely-there heeled sandals, fastened at the ankle over tailored trousers, and at Celine there were shearling coats and suede knee-high boots one moment, raffia handbags and cotton blouses the next. 

This isn’t just another Fashion Week fad with no bearing on real life, but an idea that’s altering not just the way we dress and shop, but the fashion system at large. 

Striped dress, £29.99, Zara

So how will it affect your wardrobe? For starters, you can wave goodbye to the biannual closet switchover. And no, it’s not a case of simply wearing your winter clothes in summer and vice versa. It’s about creating a patchwork of cohesive pieces that can be worn all year round. ‘Transeasonality is something we’ve been talking about as an industry for several years, but it’s only now that we’re beginning to see it happen in a more meaningful way,’ explains Francesca Muston, director of fashion at trend-forecasting agency WGSN. 

And the shift has been caused by two core triggers: climate change and sustainability. The former has been slowly chipping away at the traditional retail model of selling seasonally appropriate items in line with the weather. ‘But now, weather patterns are more extreme and erratic, and trading in these conditions is challenging,’ says Muston. ‘We’re as likely to need wellies in November or April as we are for a muddy Glastonbury weekend in June. This is why you’ll often see a real mix up of seasonal messages within collections.’ 

Add to this the fact that we work in well-heated/air-conditioned offices and take hot holidays as often in January as June, and you can see why no-season dressing makes sense. Designers and retailers are responding. ‘Transitional dressing is a key new focus for both the designer and the customer – with the seasons becoming more unpredictable, our customer is looking to buy pieces that she can interchange throughout the year,’ explains Libby Page, senior market editor at Net-a-Porter. 

Snow wash jeans, £175, Sandro; Checked wool blazer, £345, Sandro; Tweed shirt, £100, Sandro; Leather ankle boots, £315, Sandro

Similarly, Matches Fashion noticed this shift a few years ago and introduced the year-round Vacation Studio to ensure customers can shop warm-weather clothing and accessories whenever they like. ‘We sell swimwear every week of the year, so it’s important that we have a full offer for the woman going on holiday in December,’ says Cassie Smart, head of womenswear. She also notes that our changing shopping behaviours have created a demand for ‘buy now, wear now’ items.

Poppy Lomax, Selfridges’ womenswear buying manager, adds, ‘Women want pieces that add real value to their wardrobes, in terms of being both long-lasting and versatile. That is shifting what the calendar means for us and for our customers.’

Adding value is a fundamental principle of the post-seasonal wardrobe. In the dawning era of sustainability we’re finally getting wise to the damage frivolous consumption of fashion can cause, and we’re starting to take responsibility through our wardrobes. 

‘Contemporary fashion has been and always will be a reflection of the times we live in,’ says Charlie Collins, the founder of consultancy business Creative Wardrobe, who has over a decade of experience in the sustainable fashion sector. ‘Consumers are waking up to throwaway trends and they are being disregarded in favour of classic essentials that can bring us joy for longer than six months.’

Midi dress, £49.50, Marks & Spencer

Far from narrowing creativity, resulting in brands producing boring ‘staples’, this new mentality has ushered in a tribe of designers who serve the seasonless principles beautifully, each in their own way. All could be described as having a ‘stealth wealth’ aesthetic; clean simple lines, layerable luxurious fabrics and strictly no logos. They’re elegant, understated, calm. You wear them, they don’t wear you. They offer the comforting reliability of a uniform, without the element of monotony that ultimately develops.

The Row, founded by former child actors Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, has gained a cult following thanks to its transeasonal aesthetic and composed palette, despite the four-figure price tags that accompany most pieces. Other seasonless specialists include Albus Lumen, Khaite (whose camel cashmere ‘bra-digan’ went viral when spotted on Katie Holmes on a balmy August afternoon in New York), Matches’ own brand Raey, and Totême, the quintessentially Scandinavian brand started by former influencer Elin Kling, for whom refined minimalism is key. Meanwhile, US brand Wardrobe.nyc has taken the ideology a step further by creating cohesive ‘bundles’ of limited-edition essentials in sets of four or eight, which will see you through all seasons. 

Catherine Quin is another designer disrupting the seasonal status quo. Earlier this year she stopped adhering to the traditional fashion calendar and instead introduced a ‘distilled wardrobe’ concept inspired by writer Joan Didion’s ‘packing list’ from her 1979 essay collection The White Album. As such, each collection is presented as a suitcase of clothing that will see you through any travels. You can shop per item, per segment of the suitcase or by purchasing the whole collection.

massimo

Wrap skirt with belt, £69.95, Massimo Dutti

‘It’s important to me to create garments that are worth keeping; garments that fit well and become the cherished cornerstone of a woman’s wardrobe. When you find something you love to wear, who wants to be restricted by seasons?’ says Quin. 

The high street has cottoned on too, removing the potentially cost-prohibitive aspect of the trend. Zara now has a Timeless section on its website, while Mango’s Selected edit includes wear-forever pieces in cashmere, sustainable denim and silk. Cos and Arket are your fail-safe go-tos for stealth wealth without the requirement of wealth.

If you want a poster girl, look to the likes of Ukrainian Vogue’s Julie Pelipas, Danish fashion influencer Pernille Teisbaek and art director and creative consultant Alexis Foreman, whose Instagram feed is an unintentional moodboard for the trend.

Victoria Beckham autumn/winter 19

‘For me, [dressing this way] started as a financial decision years ago but has become an aesthetic one as I’ve grown into my style,’ says Foreman. ‘I used to think “maybe I’m a bit boring” but it’s actually really satisfying when you can pair something new with something you’ve had for years. I also think that a lot of outfits can be worn year-round and just accessorised differently to fit with the season. A shirt and trousers paired with heeled boots and a leather bag in autumn/winter will work just as well in spring/summer with sandals and a basket bag. And equally well accessorised with some statement jewellery, heels and a red lip for evening.’ It’s multifunctional fashion at its finest.

So, could this be the end of seasons in fashion altogether? It’s unlikely. ‘Our emotional relationship with fashion is complex, and the seasons are a key part of this,’ explains Francesca Muston. Plus, they remain important to the inner workings of the industry. ‘They’re a starting point for us, a time to think about trying something different, and continuing to move ideas forward,’ says Poppy Lomax.

Givenchy autumn/winter 19

While we may never get over the excitement of the new, there are alternative ways of approaching it. ‘Clothing rentals are emerging as a good opportunity to satisfy that almost-primal feeling of wanting a cosy new jumper when there’s a nip of autumn in the air, or the freedom of a floral dress when the sun is shining,’ suggests Muston. Try services including By Rotation and My Wardrobe HQ for a seasonal hit.

The ultimate no-season wardrobe

The trench coat

There are plenty of opportunities to wear a trench when the weather is at its ‘in between’ phase. But you can also make it work year-round by layering smartly beneath with tees, moving up to heavier blazers and knits to build your coverage.

Trench coat, £159, Zara

The dress

A seersucker cotton dress might sound like a traditionally ‘summer’ piece, yet the colour combinations in this Ganni version make it work for all seasons. Pick a print with black in it (even if just a stripe or a speck) to be sure that it will always go with opaque tights when it’s colder. 

Seersucker dress, £230, Ganni at Matches Fashion

The jeans

Any time, any place – this mid-blue shade of denim is the most versatile of all. It isn’t too dark and wintry, nor too light or bleached, which would only work in the summer. Perfect!

Jeans, £69, Cos

The boots

Seemingly heavy-duty, these hiking- style boots can be worn with three pairs of socks when it’s freezing, but look equally chic worn with bare legs and a dress in warmer weather. 

Boots, £135, & Other Stories

The shirt

A cotton shirt in a print that won’t date is an essential. Think stripes, polka dots, classic florals…

Shirt, £235, Totême at Net-a-Porter

The jumper

A black cashmere turtleneck in just the right (light) thickness can be worn beneath slip dresses or shirts or as an over-layer.

Jumper, £680, Khaite at Matches Fashion

The slip

Wear ‘as is’, of course, in the summer; try a chunky knit over the top to utilise  as a silky winter skirt; or pop a light turtleneck underneath for a grunge-inspired look for spring  or autumn.

Silk midi-dress, £395, Joseph

Go forth and revel in the era of no season, knowing you’ll never be out of fashion. Are you a strict season-swapper? Or do you make your wardrobe work hard year-round? Tell us in the comments