It may be coming to a close, but 2022 has turned out to be one of the most consequential years for fashion — and its influence continues at breakneck speed. The year saw a post-pandemic vibe shift, bringing a Gen Z-fueled, Y2K-obsessed sense of chaos that has permeated all levels of the industry, from runways to high street retailers.
That has undoubtedly resulted in the latest crop of trends. But one key difference this time around is the ethos of the trend cycle itself. Much of its aesthetic is inherently vintage, its arbiters scouring resale sites for pieces and looks that can’t be fully replicated en masse. Unlike normcore, most of today’s trends are about unique looks that go against the very definition of a trend — or at the least turn the cycle of mass production on its head.
Trends have also changed with social media, accelerating its cycles as more people have access to a vast array of media. In 2022, that has meant the past, present and future have all collided for a look that can be difficult to define as being in, out or intentionally out so as to be in (a phenomenon adjacent to the idea of “ugly” fashion).
Here, a look back at 2022’s trends, parsing out what to keep and what to leave behind — but knowing that it could all change next year on a TikTok whim.
Keep: The comfort shoe
With all of the revenge dressing in 2022, one could easily assume that those pandemic-era comfort sandals are on the outs. But with key collaborations and a TikTok trend still going strong (and routinely selling out certain styles), it’s clear that comfort brands such as Birkenstock and Crocs are sticking around. No one is giving up a comfy shoe anytime soon — in fact, the wackier, the better.
Leave behind: The fashion sneaker
Over the past ten years, the fashion sneaker has dominated as one of the biggest accessories in a fashion brand’s arsenal. Not all sneakers are created equal, though, and while plenty of fashion brands attracted sneaker folks with aesthetic bells and whistles, most were lacking in real function. Until the next iteration comes through, many sneaker and shoe enthusiasts are content with the tried-and-true athletic brands (including the addition of relative newcomers such as On and Hoka).
Keep: Cargo pants and experimental denim
Yes, cargo pants will still be a thing in 2023. Just take a look at the spring ’23 runways, where even Brandon Maxwell swapped in the silhouett. At Diesel, cargos were just the beginning of a cornucopia of experimental denim.
Leave behind: Cropped flares, track pants
The sportiness of a track pant will take a backseat to the raver-influenced, early aughts flavor of the cargo. Elsewhere, cropped flares are out of the moment — but don’t be surprised to see a capri pant come creeping back later in 2023.
Toss up: Skinny jeans
Plenty of style experts were quick to dismiss the skinny jean earlier this year. But the recent showing of Celine’s spring ’23 women’s collection in L.A. has hinted at the idea of the skinny jean’s indie sleaze comeback (or perhaps it was just designer Hedi Slimane putting forth the same skinny silhouette he has always showcased).The takeaway? Keep a pair in your closet for specific looks (over-the-knee boots, for example) but prioritize a more relaxed cargo or wide leg for everyday.
Keep: Oversized boots and Western shapes
Clunky clompers continue to punctuate street style looks and with winter here there is no doubt the boot is here to stay. Elsewhere, summer 2022’s Western boot micro trend has just the right amount of curious chaos to cross over to 2023 as a statement look.
Leave behind: Traditional combat boots
To be clear, the combat boot is not going away, and it would be hard to imagine a comprehensive closet without the footwear staple. But for now, footwear brands are experimenting with more innovative shapes, heels and platforms for a look that’s more out-there than tough punk.
Keep: Platforms and chunky soles
The platform is undoubtedly one of the most important shoe trends of the past five years and for spring ’23 it will continue to get a leg up.
Leave behind: Kitten heels
The ladylike favorite may very well make another comeback next year, but for now it’s a style that can be tucked away.
Keep: The mini
Regardless of those oft-quoted rules about the correlation between hemlines and the economy (and current uncertainty about said economy), it’s clear that the mini is set to gain even more leg in 2023.
Leave behind: The conservative midi
The flowy, pastoral frocks of the late 2010s (think Batsheva’s Laura Ashley inspired dresses and even Gucci’s pleated skirts and three-quarter-length sleeve gowns complete with puss bow) were a mainstay of the past seven or so years. But the frock of 2022 and 2023 will requires a bit more courage — or at least more risk-taking separates.
Keep: Raver sunglasses
Along with cargos, crop tops and platforms, wraparound sunglasses have fueled the obsession with late ’90s, early ’00s raver nostalgia. This time around, they even go with more traditional suiting.
Leave behind: Cat eyes and retro shapes
The current obsession with vintage fashion only goes back some 20 years, leaving midcentury styles in the dust, for now.
Keep: Gender neutral dressing
Fashion’s reset to genderless dressing continues to normalize in real life, primarily by focusing on popular items — like hoodies, baggy pants but also suiting — to ease everyone in.
Leave behind: Sweat sets
Plenty of people are still working from home — but that doesn’t mean sweats need a night out. Genderless coordinated pieces in loose silhouettes and structured fabrics give a similar comfort level while upping the effort.