Summer Trends: Some Misses And A Hit

summer trends I’ll take a pass on, and one I might try

off-the-shoulder top, cold-shoulder top

While fashion has moved away from monolithic trends, I can’t help but notice a prevalence of certain styles this season. “Trends” these days seem to cycle both more slowly and more quickly, so I don’t put much stock in any expert’s “In And Out” lists. Personal style, lifestyle and wearing what fits and what we love should always override any declared “must-have.” I regard trends merely as opportunities, either to experiment and possibly add something different to refresh a wardrobe, or to stock up on those pieces that we’d wear anyway (but with expanded options and availability).

Here are a few trends that I’ll let pass by. (And as always, what’s a Miss for me may be a Hit for you, and visa versa.)

  • Off-the-shoulder tops. These are everywhere this season. Actually I think they look very nice on many women, and I like the look in general. But for those of us who are uncomfortable going braless, they require strapless bras, which either a) don’t stay up, or b) provide enough support, or c) are uncomfortable, or d) all of these. So this one’s a big ol’ “nope” for me. (Shown above.)
  • Cold-shoulder tops. These really should be the best of all worlds: a little bare shoulder, arm coverage, often bra-friendly. But there’s just something about this style that irks me. I didn’t like this style the first time around, and still can’t warm up to it. (Shown above.)

oversized trend

  • Puddling pants. Though I’ve seen several versions of these on retail sites and in RTW shows, I have yet to see anyone IRL actually wearing their pants this long, which gives me some hope that this will be no more than a blip on the radar.  (Shown above.)
  • Oversized everything. I can wear only one oversized piece at a time, otherwise I feel swamped by fabric. I think for most of us, some balance between fitted and oversized looks better. (Shown above.)

Vince Camuto lace top, Vince lace top

  • Structured lace tops. I’m seeing versions of tops like these everywhere, from designers down to fast fashion brands. Lace is iffy for me anyway, but a stiff, structured top + lace is style kryptonite for this full-busted gal. (Shown above left | right.)

However, now that I’m freed up from the “office appropriate” style constraint, I’m drawn to a few pieces with a slightly more boho feel, like this embroidered blouse.

Embroidered blouse

A solid top with embroidery like this one stops short of evoking finger cymbals and patchouli 😉 but might be a fun addition to a summer wardrobe paired with my denim and white jeans.

What about you? What trends are you excited about, and which leave you cold?

Stay in touch.

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  1. Nancy
    May 31, 2016 / 3:27 am

    I agree on you with everything except the cold should tops…if its the right one. Last summer I bought a black tunic with cold shoulders that do not “droop” ()like the one in the photo) and wear it often. That said I tried another one recently that was a long top but not a tunic and it looked like a maternity top from the side due to the volume and emphasized things on top I choose not to emphasize. Thus I think it has to be the “right one” to look flattering.

  2. May 31, 2016 / 3:53 am

    I love embroidered tunics. They work with jeans, cropped pants, straight skirts, shorts. They keep the sun off the shoulders and arms, but they don’t look heavy or hot.

    • Cynthia LeBlanc
      May 31, 2016 / 6:05 am

      Yeah, I’ve never outgrown having at least one such top in my summer wardrobe. After all, I was a teen in the ’70s! Casual days at home, on beach vacations, outside parties, etc all call for comfy and cool, but pretty, tunics.

  3. May 31, 2016 / 4:04 am

    I tried a couple of those off the shoulder tops and dresses during our Australian summer and couldn’t make them work on me. The cold shoulder needs care to sit right but I’m not totally anti, so I might give it a go if other elements are right for me.
    The embroidered tunic is a perennial favourite in my wardrobe. In fact I probably don’t need any more in my current wardrobe.

  4. May 31, 2016 / 5:21 am

    I’m with you on the off-the-shoulder look, for the same reason; it looks pretty on others but I would not be comfortable in the necessary strapless bra. While I do like the more structured lace tops, I bought a lace tee to wear with my new culottes which are very full and fluid, similar to the beige version in the photo above except mine are black. (They are Eileen Fisher, bought at Nordstrom’s.) Since the culottes are full (they look like a mid-calf length skirt at times), I wear them with a fitted top. They are super comfortable and can be dressed up and down. Another trend I’m seeing this year is cropped pants with fuller legs. I like them as long as the length is exactly right for me, which can be tricky to find.

  5. Ellen
    May 31, 2016 / 5:50 am

    Although I realize I may look like I am in my pajamas, I love the freedom I feel in (relatively) loose clothing, both top and bottom, And because i enjoy knitting the, I have several knitted lace tops, although none that look lke the ones pictured. I would wear all boho style tops (I included tie-dye in that group), but I’m fussy about which I buy, and how they fit.

    As someone retired for several years now, I am greatly looking forward to your wardrobe evolution; it’s going to be fun.

  6. Kathryn
    May 31, 2016 / 5:50 am

    Thanks always for your insights. At age 62 I struggle to look current and relevant, while working with my body shape. My goals are to stay physically strong so that I can wear the clothes I enjoy for many years. i appreciate the great information and thought provoking ideas you provide!

  7. May 31, 2016 / 6:04 am

    I’m soooo glad you addressed the topic of “trend” (or–as the fashun experts say “ON trend”!). While I think the off-the-shoulder look isn’t all that bad, I’m with you on the strapless bra thing. Ugh. they cut into the top half of my boobs and just give an awful appearance. In order to wear this look you need perky, or boob-job breasts. I missed that train ride after breastfeeding three kids!
    The cold shoulder look—to me, it just looks trashy and “walk-of’shamely”. There is nothing chic about that look.
    And those long, long pants. It’s ridiculous. Orthopedic surgeons must LOVE that look because it’s great for their business. I’m sure so many girls and women have tripped over the hems and broken a bone or two.
    Don’t even get me started on the oversized look. My hips are oversized. If I wore a skirt like that on a hot day, people would be following me around gasping “Shade” “Shade”!!!
    Thanks for a great post!

    • Catbird Farm
      May 31, 2016 / 8:59 am

      OMG, @Catherine, I just had to say that you made me laugh out loud with this comment!

      • May 31, 2016 / 10:36 am

        Hehehehehe! Always glad to give a laugh!

  8. LizK
    May 31, 2016 / 6:19 am

    The puddling pants (and dragging maxi-dresses) make me cringe… Especially when I see them sweeping the floors in a public loo! (Insert full-body shudder here.)

  9. May 31, 2016 / 6:23 am

    I agree wholeheartedly about the bare shoulder idea. That is the first thing I thought about, how do you wear a proper bra? Glad to know I’m not the only one that can’t get a strapless bra to stay up.

    I also agree about the cold shoulder tops. I don’t have bold strong shoulders and that seems to emphasize that fact.

    I’m not crazy about oversized in general since it just adds so much weight to my frame.

    Pants that are too long just mean I will fall on my face at some point. No martini required.

    I don’t mind the lace bit but it’s just not really my cup of tea.

    The boho however, I’m all over that. Relaxed and easy to wear. Plus it suits my overall style.


  10. Michelle Smith
    May 31, 2016 / 6:26 am

    Just want to give a thumbs up to the stiff or crisp top, whether lace or linen or some other fabrication. These are more flattering to a flat-chested body than any silky or flat texture. I am always on the lookout for lined tops, doubleknits, and nubby textiles, for this reason.

  11. Betsy Post
    May 31, 2016 / 6:44 am

    I agree with several of the commenters above. The looks are great, but you need to be super thin or super young to have the clothes hang right, otherwise they just look ridiculous. What 60 year old woman wears puddled pants or oversized clothes? That is silly. I love a nice trend and agree, want to stay current, but also want to be mindful of what looks good on me. I think the mark of style at our age is to wear what looks best on us and not be desperate to be on trend.

  12. Sisty
    May 31, 2016 / 7:06 am

    I’m with you on everything. At first I had second thoughts about the structured lace top, but then realized, as a larger-busted person, that Michelle Smith is right — they look good only on flat-chested/smaller-busted women. I do have a scoop neck white tee with eyelet panels which is flattering and which gets a lot of wear, so I guess I unconsciously adapted the style for myself.

    Trends I never warmed to: nude shoes. To me, this just looks unbalanced with anything other than a blush- or nude-colored dress. To each her own, though!

  13. May 31, 2016 / 7:08 am

    I agree with your fashion trend peeves and love the embroidered tunic, except for the odd shaping of the bottom–unless that’s an illusion. One trend I fell on rapidly and hope it never goes away are “skinny jeans” and ponte pants. I haunt thrift stores, snatching them up in case this trend really goes out of style and retailers stop carrying them. .

  14. Jamie Wagner
    May 31, 2016 / 7:09 am

    Amen! Agree with all but lace top as I found a great one at Talbot’s recently. It has a t-shirt fabric underlay and only the front is lace. Very pretty, doesn’t cling and is great alone or as an under layer. Plus it came in White, a light Aqua and Black. Very useful in Houston heat.

  15. lwershler
    May 31, 2016 / 7:40 am

    Agreed on all counts, especially the Oversized Everything. I’m 5’4″ and this trend is not for me either. I know Eileen Fisher is showing it, but I don’t think it even looks that great on their very tall models. “Dowdy”comes to mind.

  16. May 31, 2016 / 7:53 am

    I do like the cold shoulder tops better than off the shoulder (which seems a bit ‘youthful’ to me, now that I’ve turned the big 5-0 .. lol).

    Puddle pants – ugh! I am a big believer in getting your butt to a seamstress to hem those dragging pants !!

    As a pear shape, I don’t really like boxy tops ~ my ‘top’ half is my best feature, so I like to wear fitted tops 🙂


  17. Juli
    May 31, 2016 / 8:05 am

    I agree with you on everything. Years ago I inherited a beautiful black cashmere top from my mother that had ladder-like, open “rungs” up the sleeves all the way to the neckline. Impossible to wear with a bra. I wore it through my 20s and 30s, then retired it for a while, then in my 50s gave it to my Lovely Daughter #1. I can’t wear it, so I can enjoy it on her instead!

  18. Alison M.
    May 31, 2016 / 8:20 am

    How about the emergence of “culottes” or “gaucho pants?” I’ve seen these cropped, wide-legged pants showing up on web sites and in stores (Uniqlo) and I can’t imagine they suit anyone. They hit right at the knee…or the dreaded mid-calf if you are shorter. Ick.

  19. May 31, 2016 / 9:13 am

    I agree with you! The main problems I have with blouses this spring and summer are 1) the fabrics are so thin you need a very confident bra or a camisole (and I hate layering in summer) and 2) many tops are billowy and flowy, not a good look for a top-heavy figure like mine. Any tips?

  20. Liz in Paris
    May 31, 2016 / 10:08 am

    Agree with you on all of these (esp. oversized everything as I’m 5’3″ and it drowns me), as well as with @Alison M. above on the culotte thing. Passing on that and sticking to a streamlined look.

  21. May 31, 2016 / 10:31 am

    Funny! I like the off the shoulder look! (Because who ever gains weight in their shoulders?). I just bought two, one teal and one charcoal…they are longer than the one you show and (I think) look nice with white jeans and a long necklace. Cold shoulder is cute, too, though it has to hit just right, and frankly, I have yet to find one that does. The long pants just look silly to me…how dirty and frayed they would get. I like oversized tops, but more fitted bottoms. Both oversized would be too much. Lace is ok. I have a similar white one (eyelet, actually) that I occasionally wear with boyfriend jeans. But, that tunic! I think I had one just like it 35 years ago that got for $10 on my senior trip to Mexico. So, no, I won’t be revisiting that look, particularly for $150. So, we are all different! That’s a nice thing about being of a certain age…no pressure to look like everyone else!

    P.s. I am, however, totally with you on the crisp white blouse that everyone thinks you must own…I have owned a half a dozen over the years and never found one I liked or wore.

  22. nell
    May 31, 2016 / 10:40 am

    Agreement on everything except the lace tops, maybe. I’m full-busted but find that somewhat structured, well-fitting tops actually look better on me than a lot of drapey, knit-y tops, which just kind of collapse on me and don’t flatter.

    A small amount of lace intrigues me, though. Could never wear a lace suit or anything like that– although in a retro context I love such an outfit on someone like the young Jacqueline Bouvier, or gorgeous Merle Oberon!

    I have almost nothing in lace, and like the idea of mixing something sporty with something demure. I have a casual french terry jacket, band collar, that has a panel of lace running down the front. It’s the same moss color as the jacket itself, so is just a subtle touch…

  23. Linda
    May 31, 2016 / 10:54 am

    Oof. Not one of these trends works for me. I’ll be happy to watch you experiment, though. 🙂

  24. May 31, 2016 / 2:45 pm

    I have two off the shoulder tops and I love them but they are a pain to wear because there really is no such thing as a comfortable strapless bra, imo. Especially if you’re big busted like me. I found one I can tolerate but it doesn’t give me the support I would want if the top was fitted. Because my off shoulder tops are not fitted and quite billowy, I can get away with less than ideal support in order to have a little bit of strapless bra comfort. I feel like this comment might be verging on TMI 😉 so I’ll conclude it by agreeing with you about all the trends you mentioned – I also love the embroidered boho tunic/top trend.

  25. Karen
    May 31, 2016 / 5:11 pm

    I agree with you on everything. Love the boho tunics…they were my go-to last summer in So Calif. They hide my belly, are cooler than clingy T-shirts and don’t show sweat on those 98 degree days. Hope they stick around a while.

  26. Sharon
    May 31, 2016 / 11:14 pm

    I agree with everything you said. I especially dislike the cold-shoulder look. I have yet to see anyone who looks good in them.

  27. Roxann
    June 1, 2016 / 1:08 pm

    I agree with all that you say and would add torn or overly distressed denim to my not-for-me list, regardless of trends.

  28. Robyn
    June 8, 2016 / 4:45 am

    I don’t care for the split shoulder and off the shoulder look. When I was younger I had a cute off the shoulder blouse but it always slipped up or down on my shoulders. This spring /summer trends have been the worst for me but the best for my pocketbook. I to dress in a structured way my style inspirations are Audrey Hepburn/ Laura Petrie and Jackie “O”. I would like to see what you do with these trends though.

  29. June 19, 2016 / 6:03 am

    Nice overview :). I agree with most points, just with cold-shoulder things feel a bit different: tops I dislike, but when it is nice floating long-ish t-shirt dress… then I like it. Something with extra holes and length: if it is short (like top) let it be whole, otherwise you may cut out more.

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