How To Wear This Season’s Plastic Fashion In Real Life
Some trends lend themselves well to a life lived in pubs, offices and supermarkets, and some belong on the very catwalk from whence they came. Polka dots, dark denim, and sunny spring brights? All perfect for a new-season wardrobe refresh that won’t feel out of place at your friend’s birthday or attract any funny looks on your Sunday dog walk. The Wild West trend and dad trainers may require a little chutzpah, but they’re totally wearable when styled well. The latest trend on our radar, however, has us sceptical: plastic.
First seen on last season’s catwalks, the synthetic fabric made its way into the collections of all our sartorial favourites. Chanel elevated humdrum rain hats and boots with wraparound bows and stiletto heels, while Balenciaga updated cobalt blue shirts with the manmade finish. Toga took your ideal workwear dress – ankle-skimming, brilliant red, belted – and turned it into a wet-day saviour, Burberry presented its most contemporary-cool collection for some time with plastic blouses and sports jackets, and Natasha Poly stormed Balmain’s show in a printed black and transparent trench coat and matching booties.
This season, the trend showed no signs of waning, as plastic dominated both New York and London’s fashion weeks. Philipp Plein was most experimental, layering clear overcoats on top of faux fur and metallic pieces, while Jeremy Scott went space age, dressing models in Barbarella-esque orange miniskirts.
Sure, the genetically blessed look fabulous in the trend when worn for no more than five minutes on a catwalk but what about IRL? Vinyl and PVC finishes have proved a street style favourite (and approachable for everyday) over the past few seasons but their more extreme, transparent cousin is a little more intimidating. The very real possibility of sweat turning plastic pieces into condensation-filled carrier bags instantly dampens our usual optimism towards new trends. More importantly, how can we wear it without looking like we’re queuing for the log flume at Thorpe Park?
Natalie Kingham, buying director at Matches Fashion, suggests working the trend around your everyday essentials for a contemporary but wearable spin on plastic. “This trend is best worn one piece at a time to add edge to a simple outfit,” she tells Refinery29. “For example, Calvin Klein’s layered PVC coat is a great one to slip over a denim-based look for a heightened casual look.”
Draw inspiration from the likes of Yoyo Cao, who layered her transparent overcoat with black piping over her classic camel trench, white tee and washed-out denim. Sonia Lyson similarly paired her plastic trench from ASOS, belted with a Gucci belt, with a pair of emerald green trousers, grey turtleneck and a baker boy cap.
Alternatively, if outerwear is a little too all-in for your liking, sling Urban Outfitter’s plastic belt bag across your body for a two-birds-one-stone look. Céline’s SS18 plastic shopper – which features the brand’s logo and is packed with a brown paper bag inside for an extra tongue-in-cheek touch – is now available to purchase. One of the takeaways from AW18’s accessories was that the new way to hold your bag is to fold it in half under your arm, and slip your hand through the handle, as if you were holding a stack of paper, so make sure to do the same with your plastic tote.
Whether you tackle the trend (and the temperamental weather) with a sleek trench coat or simply nod to it with a shoe or bag, plastic and PVC is far more wearable than first thought.
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