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Summer 2012: Not dressed to impress

This season’s hot-weather wear saw women choose unflattering cuts, prints; fashionistas impress each other, forsake classic trends, items

There are some summer fashion trends that never get old and others that are forgotten as soon as fall rolls around. New trends in women’s fashion will, I hope, be of the latter, more fleeting variety, since many recent looks have traded attractiveness for the sake of the high fashion.

The perfect example of this phenomenon is this summer’s hottest trend: harem pants. Led by Spanish clothing label Zara and followed by many lower-scale (and a few upscale) brands, silk harem pants in busy, colorful prints were the surprise hit of the summer.

Usually paired with a simple white tank top, they draw attention to a woman’s bottom half and are meant to look fashion-forward. Although the fabric and print is a visual delight — I was tempted to buy a pair myself — the style of the pant fails to flatter the female frame. Unless you want to hide your legs and make your derriere look wider than it really is, there is no reason for a woman to buy them. Women who were wearing these pants this summer were dressing to impress other fashionable women this summer, and few others.

The jumpsuit can have the same devastating results to the female form. With the jumpsuit, however, the shopper at least has the choice between many different cuts (wide leg for those with bigger legs, skinny cut for the more petite) so doesn’t become a slave to the trend and is able to manipulate the look.

Tellingly, it is the more enduring trends that manage to be both fashionable and flattering. For example, wedges with heels made of both cork and rope continued the long-standing summer tradition of replacing the closed-toe stilettos and platforms of the past winter. People may not notice the wedges themselves, but they will likely appreciate their effects on the total product: the illusion of a longer, skinnier leg, the perkier derriere and the added height. Similarly, when you choose high-waisted shorts — “in” since at least 2010 — most will appreciate the illusion of a smaller waist and the added amount of leg on display.

In summer style, high fashion and popular fashion are often at odds. But if being fashion-forward means you sacrifice looking good, just say no. The versatility of a garment to fit any shape or size is what makes a trend become a classic. Both men and women appreciate what looks good on you, so next summer, look for pieces that make sense for your shape and personal style, and not just what you see others wearing.


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