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Fashion trends to put a spring in your step
Feature: 20/1/2009

While most of us are comfortably ensconced in our winter wear, the fashion world is already midway through the next season. Keeping up-to-date with the latest fashion looks may not be every company’s top priority but among the catwalk and high street trends emerging for Spring/Summer 2009 there’s no shortage of key fashion looks to provide plenty of inspiration for the corporatewear sector.

Some strong looks for the season, such as blocks of colour, exposed zips and schoolboy blazers can make the transition to a working environment without much difficulty, others such as jewel-encrusted clothing, the fairy-tale romance look, see-through and sheer fabrics and exposed midriffs could prove more difficult.

One dominant feature of the Spring/Summer 2009 runways was fringing, which showed at Alexander McQueen, Jil Sander and Alberta Ferretti. Another popular look for tops and dresses was the asymmetric and one-shouldered look as seen at Diane Von Furstenberg. “It’s the small details from the Spring/Summer 2009 fashion shows that could crossover into corporate wear,” says Julie King, Head of Fashion & Textiles at De Montfort University. “Fringing is something that could be used on a scarf or jacket, while the trend for one-shouldered tops and dresses could translate into different fastenings on jackets.”

Julie also describes the Spring/Summer 2009 season as being more body conscious and sculpted. “There is a move away from low-waisted hipsters, with a focus on the waist. We’re also seeing a trend for bigger shoulders - 80’s style, though not as horrific, which is quite important and could translate really well into the workplace,” says Julie.

Bows are one look from last season which are now bigger and more exaggerated, with big pussycat bows still prevalent, but whether they can be adapted for corporate wear is questionable. Other key summer looks such as prints and lightweight fabrics like silk georgette are too impractical to wear at work.

“We’re seeing more British designers, who we don’t hear much about, creating fantastic tailoring,” says Julie, citing Richard Nicholl and Todd Lynn as examples. “When it comes to tailoring, we can always look to Armani who are synonymous with creating beautifully tailored, structured clothes. This summer, they are showing long-line coat dresses with matching skirts and dresses underneath that could work in uniform styles,” Julie continues. “We’re also seeing shorter jackets as well as more dresses coming through for daywear. Alice Temperley and Vivienne Westwood both showed simple shift-type dresses with an emphasis on the waist that would work well.”

Mandy Donaldson, Business Development Manager at Jermyn Street Design, producers of corporate clothing for clients including the Body Shop, Max Factor and Boots, points to the trophy jacket, which is dramatic, decorative and deeply glamorous, as this season’s statement piece and the ideal trend to cross over into the cosmetics industry. When it comes to skirts, the other mainstay of most corporate women’s working wardrobes; Mandy cites the modest midi, partnered with a feminine blouse, as a huge catwalk trend that is a step forward from the more traditional pencil skirt.

Unlike autumn and winter’s dark palette, which rarely strays far from the greys and browns, spring heralds a whole new world of colour, with this year set to be awash with bright hues. A lot of blue click here to Magnifywas seen at Aquascutum while turquoise and sea foamy blues were also a popular choice and are easy colours for most people to wear. Strong oranges and blues are two of the season’s shades that could be used sparingly for corporate wear. “The trend for block colours and mixing and matching brights gives daywear a bold new dynamism making it a great trend for clients who want to incorporate their company colours into their uniform,” says Mandy.

When it comes to fabrics, there are a lot of cool lightweight wools, with Gucci using heavy-duty cotton which is practical for workwear. There’s also a lot of shine and lustre in fabrics, as typified by the evening wear seen at Ralph Lauren and Oscar de la Renta. “The fabrics used are more luxe and fluid, very drapey and romantic with lots of gathers which is all hard to translate into the corporate enviornment,” says Julie. A strong look is the futuristic trend which Mandy cites as one that has been picked up by workwear, with the continued use of hi-tech and performance fabrics.

“Today’s fashion is varied enough to allow companies to live their own identity more than ever before,” says Karen Sparrow, Head of Uniform at Virgin Atlantic Airways, who used scarlet and charcoal stretch fabrics to create the tailored, structured suiting for their uniforms. “Companies can develop workwear specific to their own job function and brand, with an ever growing range of technical and sustainable fabrics from which to choose.”

Author: Valerie Tesler
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