A casual kimono outfit & reading the style tea leaves…

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Over the weekend, I decided to heed my own suggestion, and put together this casual kimono outfit for a dinner out. We still opt for outdoor seating whenever it’s available, and early July here is still mostly mild. So a lightweight topper keeps me comfortable when those cool evening breezes pick up.

A casual kimono outfit

Susan B. wears a casual kimono outfit with coated jeans.

kimono/haori (similar) | top (Plus) | necklace | bracelet | bag | jeans (similar) | sandals (similar)

The kimono is from Johnny Was, purchased last year and is reversible. For the holiday weekend, Johnny Was has 20% off sitewide, including kimonos. (I’m using the term loosely here as the retailer has done, and am aware that a true kimono is a very specific garment.)

The jeans and sandals were both purchased last year, and I’ve had this top for quite a while.

French Kande baroque gold pearl necklace and sun opal mix bracelet with charm.

Here’s a closeup of the jewelry, from the French Kande “Cité” collection. (bracelet | necklace) I just love those gold baroque pearls!

Trying to read the style tea leaves

A few months into the pandemic, I figured that at some point soon (ha!) life would resume some normalcy, and we’d be back out in the world as we were before the Coronascene Period. And I was wondering whether the shift toward ever more casual clothing would continue, or whether we’d see a return to a more structured, polished aesthetic.

From my vantage point, it’s a mixture of both, though “oversized” still seems to dominate what’s available. (My theory is that a looser, boxier fit is a) cheaper to produce and b) fits a wider range of bodies, so it’s not going to go away anytime soon.) Yes, you can find more tailored pieces, and they will usually be more costly.

I also believe that more people are prioritizing comfort in their clothing. After months (or more) of working from home, I think there’s a widespread reluctance to go back to clothing that feels restrictive. So even trousers and blazers are looser and more oversized.

I think “elevated casual” is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future.

Rack after rack of the same things…

One of the complaints that I hear most often about what’s available to purchase is that so much of it feels the same, season after season. I came across this article in the Atlantic recently that explains why: as with everything else, AI has a bigger role in what we’re being offered.

Rather than the “cerulean sequence” explained in The Devil Wears Prada, where than a human designer comes up with a new idea that gradually makes its way to mass retail, artificial intelligence and algorithms are now deciding what gets produced.

Fast fashion chains were the first to employ quick copycatting methods to turn out “new” trends in record time, and employ algorithms to churn out more of what is already selling. And this practice has spilled over…

When enough brands and retailers begin using these inventory tactics and trend-prediction methods, the results homogenize over time. At the top of the food chain, a designer has an interesting idea, and bigger, more efficient retailers don’t just copy it—they copy one another’s copies. The sameness persists on multiple levels—not only do lots of companies end up making garments that look very much alike, but for efficiency’s sake, they’re also often the same garments those companies made in past seasons, gussied up with new details…

An idea that would have been moderately popular a few decades ago, before petering out naturally, now sticks around in an endless present, like an unattended record that has begun to skip. 

Amanda Mull

While the article focuses quite a bit on more trendy “Instagram-worthy” clothes, (flounces, ruffles, tiers) I think this is also why we see so much black/gray/white clothing, or muted colors and shapeless cuts. It can be frustrating when you’re looking for particular styles or colors that no one seems to be offering.

I don’t know that any of this is going to change anytime soon, unfortunately. I think the best we can do is to invest in pieces (when we find them) that suit our colors/style and that will last, while purchasing fewer pieces overall. Easier said than done, I know.

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