At Who What Wear, we like to do things in our own way, and true to form, we’ve taken this approach in our in-depth analysis of the winter 2023/2024 fashion trends. We have but one preconceived notion—to speak to your specific style wants and needs. What good is it to scroll through thousands upon thousands of runway looks when only a small selection might apply to your wardrobe? Time, after all, is our most valuable commodity, and you need to spend yours wisely. So after more than a month’s worth of research, herein lies your guide to the winter 2023/2024 fashion trends that are genuinely going to matter most to you this upcoming season, as deciphered by yours truly, someone whose job has legitimately afforded them the time to do so. I don’t mean to brag, but that’s something not even ChatGPT has the bandwidth to take on.
If you’ve found yourself here reading these words, I can ascertain the following: You appreciate fashion on a nuanced level and understand the impact it can have on our lives, and you’re the sort of person who turns their gaze forward with a willingness to embrace things anew. This season saw many designers and brands take a similar leap of faith. As fashion is an industry known for being cyclical, what’s interesting was just how many firsts there were during the winter show run. Actors Emma Corrin and Sir Ian McKellen each made their fashion-month debuts, opening for Miu Miu and S.S. Daley respectively. Harris Reed’s inauguration at Nina Ricci came to fruition in fantastical ways, Gucci managed to forge a new aesthetic in the face of the directorial limbo between Alessandro Michele and Sabato De Sarno, and in London, Instagram-favourite Tove made the leap from presentation to runway to become one of the most-talked about collections in the capital. “We have always loved this brand, but [its] debut runway collection put [it] firmly on the map this season with a very grown-up collection,” affirms Libby Page, market director at Net-a-Porter. Still, amongst all that bloomed this season, there was a first tinged with sombre.
Andreas Kronthaler presented an emotional tribute to his late wife Vivienne Westwood with a collection, the first since her passing, entirely inspired by her life’s work. In his show notes, Kronthaler penned a raw love letter to Westwood, culminating with the words, “You once said to me that you can take everything away. Just leave me my platform shoes because one can’t do without them. Maybe the most important thing you ever taught me was to put the woman on a pedestal.” The woman or person, yes, but the clothes? Vivienne Westwood left an immeasurable mark on fashion, but rather impossibly, it can be distilled down to this poignant quote: “Buy less. Choose well. Make it last. Quality, not quantity. Everybody’s buying far too many clothes.” She may have spoken these words after her London Fashion Week show in September 2013, but almost a decade on, they align with winter 2023/2024’s tome.
You might assume that you don’t need to make the distinction as to whether clothes are wearable or not—they’re clothes. However, wherever the runway is concerned, it is necessary. We live in a time where the smartphone is ultimately the VIP at any show, and many brands and collections have been clouded by or downright fallen flat in the pursuit of a viral moment. This season, for the most part at least, things hit different. The ripple effects of a global economy in turmoil create a strong current, one even fashion can’t buoy. It has sparked a conversation surrounding frivolity and excess, and as a result, many designers poured their energy into creating looks that mirror what the majority of women actually wear. “The global climate was reflected on the runway as designers delivered timeless and classic collections,” explains Heather Gramston, head of womenswear at Browns. “This season’s trends saw the maximalist party dressing that dominated post-COVID evolve into more refined and functional wardrobing that combines elevated fabrics with sleek and subtle styling and that have enduring appeal.” Morgane Le Caer, fashion expert and content editor at Lyst, further elaborates, “From sharp tailoring to capsule wardrobe must-haves and ’90s minimalism, thewinter 2023 shows marked the return of ‘wearable’ clothes and confirmed quiet luxury as one of the biggest trends of the year.” Grasping what other collections have failed to in the past, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Gabriela Hearst and Ferragamo have worked out what the nuclear woman wants.
I’m not, however, through with the fashion dichotomy that’s unfolding in my exploration of winter 2023/2024’s trends. In a season which, by all accounts, is being applauded for accurately representing women and their needs, why is the industry ignoring a significant number of us in the process? Research carried out by Vogue Businessfound that, of 9137 looks across 219 shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris, just 0.6% were plus-size (UK 16+), and 3.8% were mid-size (UK 10 to 14). This means 95.6% of looks presented for winter 2023 were in sizes UK 4 to 8. Why is this the case? Some are blaming the trends themselves—much of the ’90s and ’00s looks that are currently resonating were first born in a thin cultural peak, and life as we know it is imitating that once more. I say let’s speak the truth: The luxury fashion industry still has a problem with non-straight bodies, and any progress it has made to be more inclusive has regressed. In recent years, the body-positivity movement has continued to gain momentum and is an agenda-setting topic on social media, so why is it that so many brands are unwilling to embrace it? For this, I don’t have the answer, but I can direct your attention to the brands that were body-positivity allies this season and whose shows I saw myself represented in—Karoline Vitto, Sinéad O’Dwyer, Ester Manas, Christian Siriano, Collina Strada and Di Petsa.
As loaded as all of this may sound, there was a distinct sense of levity to the recent collections too. What could generally be described as “basics” might have been the order of the day for certain designers, but for others, the exploration of the joy of dressing from spring/summer continues by way of incredible colours, dress-up box fabrics, pretty adornments and twirl-worthy silhouettes. “There’s quiet luxury, but on the other end of the sartorial spectrum, high-octane shows also brought their fair share of drama with powerful colours, larger-than-life bags and extreme volume,” continues Le Caer. Susan Fang’s show felt like a fever dream with its runway of flower petals and outfits of froth, while Erdem’s, Richard Quinn’s and Victoria Beckham’s shared philosophy of “pop a bow on it” offers some respite from the seriousness of their counterparts.
Looking further than winter 2023 and even 2024, what does the future of fashion hold? Is the answer hiding in the world of artificial intelligence and digital avatars? Robotics? The enduring debate surrounding Coperni’s runway robot dogs makes me think otherwise. You know, maybe we’ve been overcomplicating it all along. Perhaps the future of fashion is wearing the clothes you want, seeing yourself represented in those clothes and, as Vivienne Westwood would have wanted, loving those clothes so much that you don’t feel the desire or need to overconsume. I’ve done my best to make this a reality for you below.
Without further ado, keep reading for the rundown of 19 noteworthy winter 2023/2024 fashion trends, as told by myself, industry experts and some of my esteemed colleagues.
I really can’t fault this H&M blazer.
Ever-so-slightly slouched jeans loan themselves perfectly to this aesthetic.
This also comes in a statement metallic orange.
The detachable chain strap makes this clutch all the more versatile.
This will look great with jeans.
Have you ever seen anything to pretty?
Such a gorgeous fabric and silhouette (not to mention colour).
This relaxed shirt comes in a range of sorbet shades.
Reformation has so many pieces in this It print.
I’m also into the matching trousers.
Chic with a capital “C”.
A piece you’ll wear for years to come.
These also come in silver and oxidised black.
Pearl jewellery never goes out of style.
An elevated eveningwear option.
The combination of leggings and court shoes ties into this look perfectly.
The trend is so integral this season, it’s begun taking over bags.
These also come in a beautiful cognac shade.
I can’t believe I’ve found these boots at this price.
I don’t know what I love more; the waistcoat or the colour of the waistcoat.
Such a great set.
I didn’t know I needed silver trousers until this precise moment.
Dip into the trend with a silver shoe.
This dress is so special.
I’m into this blurred print.
If you’re looking for a lightweight option, this is it.
This will never go out of style.
If you’re a minimalist, this top is the ideal way to wear the volume trend.
These remain so in-demand.
The cutest tights I’ve ever seen.
Arket’s cult puffer coat is back for 2023.
Flares are in for the season ahead.
This red bag will breathe life into neutral outfits.