If what we wear is a reflection of who we are and how we feel, then what do fashion’s It items of 2022 say about our lives?
The end of the year is a time for reminiscing. We love to look back and catalog the books we read (or meant to), the music we listened to, the movies we watched—or at least share the wrap-ups made by various apps that keep track of these things for us. (Lyst’s yearly roundup is maybe the closest thing we have in fashion to a Spotify Wrapped.) If what we wear is a reflection of who we are and how we feel, then what do fashion’s It items of 2022 say about our lives?
Toggling in between pandemic and post-pandemic, between working from home and in-person, between embracing nostalgic items from our youth while also seeking grown-up pieces that are fit for our fully-adult lives, this was another year lived in the organized chaos that has become our new modus operandi. Fashion is a buffet and we want to try a little bit of this and a little bit of that, mixing comfort with the surreal, the basic with the bold. Here, we look back at the 19 items that defined the way we dressed this year.
The Fashion Midriff, Courtesy of Miuccia Prada
It was October 2021 when Miuccia Prada vibe-shifted the fashion world with a collection of itty-bitty skirts and itty-bitty tops that exposed long, taut stomachs. Well, when Mrs. Prada speaks, the world listens and once the spring arrived the look was everywhere. Nicole Kidman wore it on the cover of Vanity Fair, igniting a high-fashion renaissance for herself in the process. Paloma Elsesser, Emily Ratajkowski, Zendaya, and Saweetie helped make Miu Miu the show of the season. The collection was so ubiquitous that an Instagram account popped up tracking the looks’ appearances. Meanwhile, on TikTok, guides of how to create the style at home began going viral—all you need is a pair of scissors, after all.
Jonathan Anderson has long been working with surreal themes in his collections. He sent a dress that was also a car down the fall 2022 Loewe runway, but it was his explorations of half-deflated balloons that became the unwitting hit of the season. He showed them on the heels of pointy black pumps and boots, the weight of the wearer seemingly “squeezing” the air out of them; he “stuck” them underneath a bodycon dress; and he riffed on the fact they can resemble breasts with a sheath with two cleverly positioned molded balloons at the chest. Emma Corrin, who often favours the weird and avant-garde for their red carpet appearances, wore it to the Olivier Awards.
Related: The fashion figures we lost in 2022
Luar’s Ana Bag
Once people started going out again, it was only a matter of time before a new It bag staked claim to the party throne. Luar’s Ana bag, named after designer Raul Lopez’s mom (as well as several of his aunts), is that bag. Available in two sizes, its sleek structured shape recalls a portfolio that a 1980s working woman may have carried, but its circular handle injects it with a subtle sensuality and makes it easy to carry around on your wrist like a bracelet. Originally available in a simple palette of black, white, browns, iridescent silver, and a blue and white “croc” style, the offerings have since expanded via special collaborations with the likes of Opening Ceremony, Bergdorf Goodman, and the Gucci Vault. No wonder Lopez won the award CFDA American Accessory Designer of the Year award this year.
Christopher John Rogers’s Stripes
Few designers have managed to establish a unique visual vocabulary exclusively through their use and manipulation of color as deftly as Christopher John Rogers. Whether it’s his striped knitwear, or his oversized linear dots on button-downs and trousers, you can always count on his clothes to brighten it all up. Instantly recognizable on red carpets, in the pages of magazines, and even out on the streets, the ubiquity of his pieces—and the diverse people that wear them—is further proof that he’s one of the industry’s brightest stars.
The Oversized Blazer
The oversized blazer isn’t a new trend, but Kaia Gerber, Hailey Bieber, and the rest of us simply can’t get enough of the instant sophistication its exaggerated proportions bring. Whether worn as part of a suit, or thrown over jeans or even sweatpants, the oversized blazer is the new pair-with-everything piece. See you again in 2023, probably.
Y/Project’s Jean Paul Gaultier Homage
After Jean Paul Gaultier stepped down from his own label in early 2020, guest designers started taking the reins to present their versions of Gaultier’s couture collections. After outings from Sacai’s Chitose Abe and Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing, Glenn Martens from Y/Project was selected for spring 2022. The collection was spectacular, but that’s not what we’re here for. You see, a week before, Martens presented the Y/Project fall 2022 collection, and woven throughout was a major Gaultier-ism, the “body” print from his spring 1996 'Cyberbaba' collection, which Martens had turned into anatomically correct layered bodycon tops and dresses as well as denim jackets and trousers. In a collection that was already one of Martens’s best, these were the total pièce de résistance—you too can have a perfect body, they seemed to say, just throw on your Y/Project and go.
Prada’s White Tank Top
It was the first look of Prada’s fall 2022 collection: a white tank top with the triangle logo embellishment at the chest, worn with a midi-length skirt pieced from three different fabrics, and sturdy Mary Janes. Quintessentially Prada and quintessentially now, it merged Mrs. Prada’s sometimes crooked femininity and Raf Simons’s raw minimalism into the simplest of garments. The tank retails for little under a thousand dollars, and sure, you could wear the version by Hanes (six for $13!), but where’s the fun in that? “Pragmatic garments acquire new importance and value,” reads the product description on the website, and you know what? That’s exactly right.
Wales Bonner Adidas Sneakers
Every few years, Adidas sneakers reemerge as the fashion shoe de rigueur. At the start of the 2010s, it was Stan Smiths that became the non-statement statement shoe for fashion insiders (who’d no doubt first spotted them on the feet of both Marc Jacobs and Phoebe Philo). Since then, Adidas has been courting the fashion crowd more explicitly. Its recent collaboration with Gucci, which expertly combined Alessandro Michele’s whirlwind-universe with the sportswear brand’s signature three stripes and sporty silhouettes, is likely to become even more collectible in the wake of the designer’s departure. But it’s Adidas’s ongoing collaboration with the British label Wales Bonner, initially launched in January 2020, that continues to be at the top of everyone’s most-wanted list. Missed a drop this year? Fear not, spring 2023 is just around the corner.
A Tailored Vest
Whether it’s the result of watching too many Friends reruns or just the logical next step for wardrobes full of oversized trousers and jackets, the tailored vest emerged as a must-have this summer, with women of all ages wearing them with everything from matching trousers to jorts. This was one of the few actually democratic trends this year, where the look was more important than the brand, but the Frankie Shop’s many iterations (linen! wrap! oversized!) were the ones It girls like Kendall Jenner gravitated toward.
The J.W. Anderson Pigeon
Jonathan Anderson apparently uttered the word “weird” 19 times while previewing this collection for Vogue Runway’s reviewer. Just how weird did his fall 2022 menswear show get? Models walked the runway holding pigeons in their hands. No, they weren’t real pigeons, they were life-size pigeon clutches—lift up one of its wings to reveal storage space big enough for keys, credit card, and maybe a lip balm. Weird and absolutely genius. When a few months later Sarah Jessica Parker was photographed on the set of And Just Like That’s second season carrying the little bird, it was one of the few things in this chaotic year that made sense: Of course Carrie Bradshaw would carry a pigeon clutch.
Big Pants, No, Bigger Than That
Rumors of the return of skinny jeans have been greatly exaggerated—at least this year, when pant legs kept getting wider. As long as the leg is large, the style can be anything you want, flat front skater jeans, baggy cargo pants, proper pleated high-waist trousers, and yes, even JNCO-adjacent styles were all welcome in 2022. But this isn’t just about being a “little shirt/big pants” person, like the popular 2020 meme declared; real heads know that big top/big pants is where it’s at. Just ask the Olsens, who’ve made an art of it both with their personal style and at The Row.
Tory Burch’s Claire McCardell Dress
Tory Burch looked to the 20th century American designer Claire McCardell for her spring 2022 collection. McCardell created pragmatic clothes for the working woman without ever forgetting to indulge in a bit of whimsy. A reedition of her book What Shall I Wear?, which was re-published this year with a foreword from Burch, is full of sage fashion advice, including the evergreen “if the shoe hurts, give it away.” Burch did her homework, and McCardell’s bold color-blocking and mid-century silhouette came together in a dress named after the iconic designer. Sleeveless with a V-neck, delicate pintuck details, and pockets in easy every-day cotton poplin or silk, it’s the perfect dress for hot summer days in the city, and it didn’t take long before the actress Jennifer Lawrence was photographed by the paparazzi wearing a blue version.
Chopova Lowena’s Carabiner Skirt
Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena launched their namesake label in 2018 after meeting as students at Central Saint Martins. Their very first collection, part of their joint master thesis while still on school, featured a skirt, made from upcycled pleated Bulgarian silk taffeta affixed to a thick leather “belt” via mountain-climbing carabiners. The style captured their folkloric-meets-sporty aesthetic, and since then, the skirt had steadily become one of those IYKYK items, appearing on everyone from Madonna to Rosalía to even Bad Bunny, who sported the skirt in his 2020 video for “Yo Perreo Sola.” This year, Chopova Lowena reached a fevered It-girl pitch; Dua Lipa was spotted wearing full looks from the upstart brand over and over again, Olivia Rodrigo wore their clothes onstage, and their distinctive prints were also spotted on Charli XCX and Willow Smith. Need more proof? On TikTok, a clip of a skirt being packaged for one of their customers has been viewed over 27,000 times.
The cowboy boot trend has nothing to do with country and/or western and everything to do with the noughties boho-trend revival. Those who lived through the era may recall them being an essential part of festival wear—with tattered jorts or mini denim skirts—or alternatively, the best way to ground a gauzy babydoll dress (the latter I wore to my 21st birthday party way back when, I’m not ashamed to admit). In the “more is more” spirit of our time, the cowboy boot has become an everyday shoe thanks to designers tweaking the style to suit their particular vibes. See Khaite’s sleek and minimal take, or Isabel Marant’s wide-shaft, two-tone version, for something more legit. And if you wanted to rock a boot but are not a boot-kinda-gal, then Y/Project’s jeans with boot shaft detail at the hem had you covered. Giddy up!
A Little Fan
This July was the sixth hottest July since we started keeping track of such things in 1880, so perhaps it’s not surprising that the fan became a style staple this summer. June was sticky too. At Pitti Uomo, guests could often be seen carrying “old-school” foldable fans to beat the heat, then in Milan, guests at Versace’s menswear show were given appropriately bedazzled motorized versions. We first spotted Naomi Campbell fanning herself while sitting front row at Louis Vuitton Men’s spring 2023 show in Paris. Stylish and practical? We love to see it.
Now that our feet have gotten used to the comfort of Birkenstocks, it seems like we’re simply never going back. Earlier this year, it was even reported that there was a shortage of the classic Boston clog, with the style selling out everywhere—or did it sell out because of the report? Either way, there’s plenty of Birks to pick from, thanks to designer collaborations which this year included Dior, Manolo Blahnik, and Staud. Meanwhile, previous collabs with the likes of Proenza Schouler, Rick Owens, and Jil Sander still feel as fresh as ever.
At Diesel’s fall 2022 collection, Glenn Martens sent out two looks that featured extra-wide belts and not much else besides. Whether he meant them to be skirts or simply belts worn with nothing underneath is a moot point. Months later, the skirt/belt object became the subject of a furious discourse on TikTok, Instagram, and eventually the internet as a whole (it made the Daily Mail) that had people intensely debating the point of such a garment—as well as debating the debate about the point of such a garment. In other words, a perfect encapsulation of our online lives at the dawn of the 2020s.
Anything Valentino PP Pink
When Pierpaolo Piccioli presented his fall 2022 collection for Valentino in Paris 48 out of 81 looks were a head-to-toe bright fuchsia shade dubbed Pink PP, (and we do mean head-to-toe: gloves, tights, shoes, handbags, all came in the special fluoro-pink shade). On its own, it was a statement of the designer’s joie de vivre, and it wasn’t surprising that celebrities like Zendaya, Glenn Close, Sebastian Stan, and Gigi Hadid, among many many others, responded to its clarion call, showing up on red carpets decked out in Piccioli’s colorful vision. Then in June, images from the set of Greta Gerwig’s upcoming Barbie movie hit the internet, and Pink PP was sucked into the Barbiecore trend, which arguably turned the shade into the color of the year.
Gas Station Sunglasses
Every year, we must find an item once believed to be a symbol of bad taste—or even worse, no taste!—and anoint it as the utmost representation of cool. This year, the honor fell to gas station sunglasses, you know the kind; a wrap-around frame with heavy reflected lenses that were last cool with winter athletes of the 1980s. Many brands including Bottega Veneta and Versace whipped up their own luxe versions but this is one trend where owning the real thing is part of its appeal. We can’t help but wonder what other fashion discoveries await us at rest stops this year.