When I first saw the street style pictures from socially-distanced Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks—immaculately groomed influencers in head-to-toe designer, with the addition of a face mask—roll in, I groaned a little. I understand the fashion industry’s need to push forward during a pandemic that has decimated huge swathes of the retail sector—but as the death rates from Covid-19 passed a million and the political situation in the US took increasingly dark turns, the thought of indulging in the usual street style pantomime didn’t feel quite right.
In the last decade street style has become an increasingly ludicrous performance—people who aren’t even invited to the shows deck themselves out in thousand dollar outfits and walk back and forth to try and be photographed, and those who are invited are often decked out in head-to-toe #sponcon.
And the truth is, people no longer really engage with it. When I started as a digital editor six ears ago, we relied on street style galleries for a large chunk of our monthly traffic targets—a few years later and they were barely scratching readers’ peripheries. When you have Instagram, street style feels less relevant—and the images became homogenous, as photographers were under pressure to shoot the same rotation of 10-15 girls.
So imagine my delight when I saw how… chill a lot of the style was this season. It wasn’t a stream of outlandish ensembles, worn purely for the purpose of being photographed, but a handful of women wearing simple, stylish and relatively normal outfits. Sabina Socol wore jeans, a blazer and worn-in ankle boots—the exact thing you image she wears to brunch on a Saturday. Tamu McPherson’s silk slip skirt and jacket (pictured above) felt like the kind of ensemble she’d actually wear to work. Was everyone chill? Of course not! But it was enough to tickle my nostalgia for the street style of yesteryear.
Pretentious street style purists like myself will tell you that pictures simply resonate more when a person wears their own clothes. There’s a lived-in quality to the way they move that translates through the lens—a realism, if you will, that made street style so mesmerising in the first place. Now, at a moment where we’re collectively questioning the frenetic (and damaging) pace of our consumption habits, it seems as good a time as any to embrace this retro idea of what street style is supposed to be. Evidence? We present exhibits A-E.