I am now officially a broken record (a reference that now seems archaic and which my daughters probably don’t understand) but some trends are frumpy. I know, I know.
I used to tell you that if you want to avoid frumpy styles shop the TRENDY items from the CONTEMPORARY brands. This is no longer true. And that’s because of this sad truth, which has taken hours of retail therapy for me to fully come to grips with:
I do not know why it is suddenly stylish to look matronly, but there we have it. The problem is that if you are running as fast and as hard as you can away from matronly, then this stinks, because it’s everywhere and everyone is telling you it’s cute and trendy.
It isn’t. Cute I mean. It is trendy, however.
I’m over hear SMH. (That means Shaking My Head by the way, and I had to throw that in there so you know that I am hip enough to finally understand a 3 year old acronym. But I digress).
So, lest you go into stores unprepared this season, I decided to compile a list of items that are both trendy and frumpy, so you can avoid them.
Here, the 2023 spring trends that are frumpy!
The Office Pumps
These look like 1960s and 70s uber-classic shoes from an era when secretaries were called secretaries and dressed in two-piece sets and prim pilgrim pumps. They were intentionally stodgy and only worked if you were under 30 and cute enough to pull it off.
These styles include loafers that are bulky but not oversized or chunky enough to be edgy and stylish, as well as square toe pumps with chunky soles and other matronly accessories like buckles and some bows. Here, a few takes on this trend that you should be avoiding.
The Frumpy Loafers
A chunky lug sole loafer is a cool look now and almost always, but a pair of loafers with topstitching styles, comfort shoe details, or that are too classic without some updated references is going to be very hard to wear. Skip these at all costs.
Note: The Vince Camuto version looks exactly like the style that I had all of my lawyer clients purge from their wardrobes 10 years ago. They are man shoes, and not in a cute way.
Lug Sole Sandals
Sure, a chunky shoe can make your legs look slimmer in comparison (it’s all about contrast!) but some of these styles mimic the utilitarian look of a sport or hiking sandal, but without the practicality and features of those styles.
Ballets are tricky, I’m not going to lie. Sure they are classic and trendy and feminine and give Audrey Hepburn vibes and they are flats (yayyyy) but I am not Audrey Hepburn and these can be HARD to style over 30. Really hard. First of all, some of the ballet flats themselves are dicey, and then we have to figure out what to wear them with. I feel a video coming on. For now, however, avoid flats with dated details (the strip across the top, often accompanied by a bow, a round toe, and a wedge heel).
I had a revelation working with clients and looking at jeans on my own body. Denim should be either really light this season, or gray or black. The in-between medium wash shades in a classic silhouette read more mature. Always.
Dresses with Matching Jackets
Ahhhh. It’s secretary-core. I think I just named a new trend. Office dresses, office shoes, and these too-classic and too-mature looking sets, with dresses and their too-matching jackets. Sigh. This would make my 16 year old daughter look old. Remember my rule of thump:
Here are a couple of examples of this travesty in action.
The Office Midi Dress
Here we go with Secretary Core again. These are the types of dresses women wore to work in the 70s and 80s, but they’re back, more expensive than ever, and labeled as trends for hipsters like you and me.
These are deadly. They are exactly the kind of item that the wardrobe designer on a movie set loves because they will instantly age an actor 20 years. Don’t let these happen to you.
If you’re afghan became a sweater, this is what it would look like. You know what I’m talking about. These are cutesy and highly detailed knits that make you look like you are wearing your throw blanket. Yes, there are more modern versions of this, which I show, below, but this trend is at best very very tricky.
APPROACH WITH CAUTION
I’m just going to keep saying this until the stores hear me and stop selling tarps-as-dresses and comforters-as-coats. No one needs that much extra fabric. No one. The best fit for most of us is a tailored or slim fit, and while slouchy is chic and edgy and modern, baggy is not. And learning the difference can mean looking like a modern best version of yourself and looking like a bag(gy) lady.
I love a good two-piece dress. They are magical, really. They look like a dress, but offer the versatility of separates. Sadly, these are not good two-piece dresses. They are frumpy frocks designed to make you look older, shorter, and sackier. Yes, that is now a thing. These versions happen to be very expensive, which doesn’t save them. Avoid at all costs unless your tall and 25.
Unrelated Rant: Notice the shoes on the Dolce and Gabbana version, on the left, and the neckline, and the length? Clearly, this is a look that is going to be a lot easier to wear, and more flattering, than the Erdem version on the left, with the atrocious shoes, the buttoned-up collar, and the awkward length.
Ahh! That was a lot! Which of these trends scare you like they scare me? And which are you still considering (hopefully with some of my pointers in mind)? Let me know!