How many layers is too many? Designers at this year’s NYFW provided a simple answer with their floating and wrapped fall 2022 ready-to-wear collections. From Proenza Schouler to Altuzarra, it seems the verdict is, the more the merrier. According to Afterpay’s in-house fashion psychologist, Shakaila Forbes-Bell, this evolution of the cocooning trend seen last year is the natural progression of “wearapy”—therapy in the form of clothing. The mood in the air to “get back to business” post-pandemic will see many of us looking to regain control of our image by embracing creative layering and wrapping—something Shakaila reports positively impacts perception, making people appear as more competent. We chatted with the uber-knowledgeable Shakaila to learn more. —Vita Daily
Hi Shakaila! Watching this year’s NYFW, which designers stood out to you and why?
Some of the NYFW shows I enjoyed were Proenza Schouler because I think they perfectly encapsulated the spirit of pandemic dressing. Nothing says “I’m ready to work but not let go of my comfort” like a hoodie underneath a structured blazer. I loved the colour palette at Christian Siriano. In colour psychology, cool colours like blue, impact the parasympathetic system providing a calming effect on wearers, much needed in these trying times. In times of unrest, we’re drawn to pragmatism and functionality but as humans, we still crave novelty so I enjoyed the elevated basics seen at Brandon Maxwell such as their take on the classic white top and jeans.
What were some of the main takeaways from NYFW this year?
This season seemed like a slight departure from the Roaring Twenties theme of last season. There’s a strong match between the daring and pragmatic styles which is more reflective of the current stage of the pandemic we’re in. The trends to note this season have normalized functional fashion, which takes a maximalist approach to minimalism and a twist on creative layering. Together, these trends combine all the benefits of comfort dressing, dopamine dressing and cocooning. As a pandemic trend, they are now influencing the next generation of streetwear. Colour, comfort and emotion are often intertwined, making these trends an expression of Wearapy, a core theme on the NYFW runways.
Can you define Wearapy? Did this concept exist pre-pandemic or is it a result?
Simply defined, Wearapy is the practice of using clothes to help boost your mood, confront your feelings and successfully navigate different emotional states. It’s an extension of the dopamine dressing trend, where we saw people embrace dressing as a form of therapy, a way to find comfort in something tangible and improve their mood. Colour, style, and texture can all have psychological associations. In this instance, we are starting to see a desire to showcase moods, memories and selves through clothing style. Fashion is a visual marker of the times we live in, and designers are interpreting the past two years in really interesting ways on the runways. Some key moments reflecting functionality and comfort were seen through Maryam Nassir Zadeh’s textural, snug, almost towel-like leather scarves and zipped up coats and in Proenza Schouler’s high necklines and exaggerated fitted wrap waists.
Why are we seeing layering arise as a major trend this season? What influences do you think inspired this trend? What can this trend highlight about our society’s collective state of mind?
It’s an evolution of the cocooning trend, a natural progression in this butterfly-esque cycle we’ve been collectively going through. We’re starting to shed that cocoon, but we’re not quite ready to get those wings out yet. With the uncertainty of our world, there is a part of us that still wants to be swaddled in comfort and safety. From Proenza Schouler to Altuzarra, it seems the verdict is, the more layers the merrier. The mood to ‘get back to business’ will see many looking to regain control of their image by embracing creative layering and wrapping positively impacts perception, making people appear as more competent.
How can knowing how to properly layer make people appear more competent?
Research points to the positive impacts on perception when dressing in layers, making people appear more confident. Over the next year, many will relish the chance to regain control of their image, where embracing creative layering is one way to deliver that impression. Other styling tips include marrying non-traditional pieces or even clashing accessories to create a unique look. Regardless of what we want to believe about human perception, it takes only a few moments to make a snap judgment of a person and one of those deciding factors is clothing. With a layered look, dressing appears intentional, denoting a sense of security. Someone who took the time to layer an outfit aesthetically can appear more organized or detail-oriented, efficient and intelligent. On the flip side, when we take the time to carefully craft an outfit, there is a confidence that arises with the knowledge that we look our best, enabling us to act with certainty and command respect.
How do you think this trend will trickle down into ready to wear/ street style / instagram style?
I think we’re going to start seeing a lot of wrapped tops and dresses. The idea with this trend is to create as much texture and movement as possible, while remaining structured and almost utilitarian. I also see how elevated loungewear thrived in the pandemic as people grappled with their desire for comfort. However, as humans, we are hardwired to be attracted to novelty meaning classic loungewear pieces got old fast. Now people are seeking comfortable basics in quirky prints, premium fabrics and knits, bold colours and interesting shapes.
What styling tips can we take away from these designers and apply it to how we piece outfits together?
The start to any good outfit is a strong colour palette. What we’ve seen from Altuzarra this season and Gabriella Hearst is a tone-on-tone technique. A monochrome look is probably the easiest place to begin. Sourcing pieces from the same tonal families will make it easy to play with the structure of your look. “Sculpting” is next. The key to a sturdy sculpture is a base: A form-fitting turtleneck and flowing trousers of the same tone. Build on this base with what feels right to you (like I said before, the more the merrier). For example, adding a tank top or vest overtop the turtleneck can add dimension. Next, you’ll need a bit of flow: Try an oversized blazer inspired by Khaite, the ‘cool girl’ this season or a scarf wrapped over the shoulders. Accessorize with mismatched earrings or a strappy belt or flowy scarf to add flow to the lower portion of your shape.