by Beth Hammarlund
August is kind of a dire month. It’s the time of year that your over-worked air conditioner gives out, and you can’t even cool down in a theater as it’s the dumping ground for shitty movies. On the other hand, it’s also a month of frenetic outdoor activity as people try to squeeze out the last few drops of summer, school supplies is anywhere and everywhere, and mailmen across the nation lament the cinderblocks that are the September fashion magazines.
I am currently tackling the four cornerstones of American fashion publication: Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle and W. To give you a better appreciation of this undertaking, that comes to 11.5 lbs of hard-hitting fashion coverage. It’s a welcome change from those measly July and August issues, which are little more than leaflets.
Each publication is on a mission to best distill the most crucial trends of the season, but attacking these heavy tomes can be quite the undertaking. So if you lack the constitution to flip through these issues yourself, I’ll give you the quick rundown: Peplums are still a thing. Brocades and rococo-inspired embellishments are everywhere, like whoa. Goth is back. (Did it ever leave?) Gold is the new black. Most entertainingly, everyone is clamoring to coin the name of this season’s “it” color, a dark, rich red. “Oxblood” is currently the most popular choice, but “cabernet,” “garnet,” and “cerise” are all in the mix. I like underdogs, so I’m rooting for “claret.”
Perhaps the most accessible trend for fall is the statement collar, or as people who don’t write for fashion magazines refer to it, the dickie. (It’s true that a dickie typically refers to a detached collar that also includes a bib of fabric, but why split hairs? And why not use any excuse possible to work the word “dickie” into conversation?) Dickies were all over the Fall 2012 runways, and now they are ready to take over the world. Or at least your vocabulary.
My first experience with dickies dates back to elementary school. Although a popular formula for the well put-together child included a collared shirt layered under a sweater, this cumbersome and over-insulating practice typically led to me running around in circles, flailing my arms about, and crying “Mom! Get it off meeeee!!” So when my mother presented me with a pastel floral dickie to wear under my sweaters, my life changed. I was suspicious of the accessory’s bizarre appearance at first, but any doubts were assuaged when I put it on under my sweater and found that I could still windmill my arms with total freedom. Huzzah!
After elementary school, as social judgments began to flare, I realized that I could never be popular and a dickie-lover. (Some girls found the opposite to be true. Ba dum ching!) And it certainly didn’t fit in to the angsty grunge mentality that I was so self-conciously cultivating. So my floral dickie was tucked away in a drawer, forgotten as childhood things often are.
But like many great sartorial loves, this one just wouldn’t die. My appreciation for dickies was re-ignited five years ago when I bought this Spring 2008 Miu Miu dress:
As you can see, the runway styling incorporated a free-floating black collar. I am not typically one to mimic runway looks so specifically, but this was too good. Plus, I had a particularly boring business casual black button-up that yearned to be shredded. Sadly, I only wore that homemade dickie two times before I lost it in a fit of inebriated generosity.
And now it’s official: dickies are back. They’re popping up all over the accessories pages, ranging from traditional structured versions to collar-inspired necklaces (clearly a distant cousin of the dickie, but the design certainly intends to recall the effect). You’ll find them in graphic prints and gothic lace, simple and bejeweled. Peter Pans, turned-down collars, even turtlenecks. There’s a version for just about everyone.
But the best thing about this trend is that you can DIY with ease. Just cut up an old shirt and use your trusty glue gun to spangle your collar with baubles. For something a bit less twee, try studs or spikes. Hell, if you’re in Portland, put a bird on it.
And credit to give credit where credit is due, big ups to the sartorial soothsayers at 30 Rock, who predicted this season’s trendiest accessory back in January: