17 looks that defined 2017
From puffed-up puffas, DIY hair and suits big enough to live in, to cheapo secretary specs, faux fur and wallet-bashing trainers, this year was notable for looks that veered from affordably-eccentric to eye-wateringly expensive.
Balenciaga sock boots So coveted and ubiquitous during 2017 that even dear old M&S now offers a filtered-down version of a prototype initially loved by Demna fanatatics, streetwear hypebeasts, and budget-conscious shoppers popping into DSM to try them on, take a swift selfie and hastily upload the results to Instagram, before the security guard even has time to have a hissy.
Puffa jackets The more enveloping and huge they were, the more everyone liked/wanted/needed them. Available in an endless range of incongruous fabrics and finishes -- including pink velvet, patent leather and cobalt felt -- they were typically worn by everyone from skaters in thrall to pricey Gosha trackies, to that admirably-fierce PR on the door of Fashion Scout who didn't let you into the Pam Hogg show, back in February.
Belt chains At one point there seemed to almost be a contest among club kids to prove how many chains could be hooked together with mountain carabineers, stationary shop binding loops and unwanted hoop earrings -- sometimes further enhanced with lanyards and key fobs -- in order to fully maximise the look. This highly individual approach inevitably rattled its way into every high street shop, however, where generic pre-constructed versions duly became available.
Frameless secretary glasses A very niche interpretation of Paris Is Burning-esque ‘Executive Realness’. Typically purchased from Poundland, with the weakest possible lens ensuring a just-about-manageable level of blurred vision. Generally worn by Lotta Volkova-impersonators and wannabes at pretty much every fashion launch party throughout the year. Frequently Instagrammed with the caption #sexysecretary.
Faux fur Gucci's announcement in October that they were dropping the use of real fur forthwith massively underlined the mood for all things cuddly, fluffy and cruelty-free. But the iconic brand was merely adapting to a modern millennial mindset that had already decided the future is all about faking it. Hence, on any given night out this year, you'd see a static-creating mound of multi-coloured designer or high street faux fur coats casually flung behind the DJ booth.
Cowboy boots The ideal footwear for anyone who wanted the world to know they’re a massive fan of Raf at Calvin Klein, which featured said boots in the autumn/winter 17 collection. East London vintage stores did brisk business, as customers tussled over dusty old pairs (last fashionable when Little Mix were still popular), for a fraction of the price, in a desperate bid to replicate that good ol' country and western fantasy.
Oversized men’s suits These were preferably pinstriped and so voluminous that your hands didn't show at the end of the sleeves (creating a great silhouette for your Bar-a-Bar CCTV screen selfie). The high demand for this cranked-up take on tailoring meant that whenever you popped in for a quick rummage at the fashion pack's current fave charity shop, Fara, in Islington, the men’s suit rack was always in a state of major disarray.
Patent leather trench jackets Quite possibly a lot of younger shoppers didn’t even know who Helmut Lang was until 2017, but once Shayne Oliver got involved as 'designer in residence' at the influential brand it became one of the most name-dropped, er, names around. Suddenly, everyone wanted a Lang trench jacket -- or a copy of one -- which would typically be styled with a Freitag tote bag and those ever-divisive 'are they actually cool or just hideous?' Buffalo platforms.
A single rhinestone chandelier earring Popular among those whom wanted to straddle that fashion tightrope between 'glam' while maintaining a bit of an 'edge'. These little lobe-stretching gems were seen and heard tinkling gently against necks at all manner of glitzy fashion bashes and gritty raves, whether in The Scotch of St James, or some derelict former launderette in Margate.
Charity shop kitten keels With tiny heels held steady only by willpower and clenched toes, these were not only a thing this year, but also earned extra cred if they cost a couple of quid from Sue Ryder, and were adorned by some sort of horse bit or bow decoration. Unfortunately, they weren't the most practical of footwear for teetering about at illicit warehouse parties in the middle of industrial estates...
Witchwear Inspired by a flurry of zine and mag articles about modern witchcraft, sales of black candles and tarot cards went through the roof, triggering a related rise in the popularity of spooky old Marilyn Manson T-shirts, worn with pointy heeled boots and accessorised with, ahem, spellbinding conversations about wiccanism. Preferably in the smoking area at Vogue Fabrics.
Balenciaga Triple S trainers Feverishly desired, these became a kind of shorthand for: “I have money to burn” and/or “ Highsnobiety is my bible…”. Despite many aficionados still being in denial, these creations seemed basically the same as Raf Simons x Adidas Ozweego trainers, but could be snapped up for ten times the price on Depop.
eBay go-go boots Purchased in good faith, believing they were the height of individuality, it then turned out that every single person arriving at Sink the Pink was wearing an almost identical pair. Oops! They were impossible to actually walk in (who cared?), and so circulation-stoppingly tight they created a micro-trend for chafing.
Matrix Sunglasses A godsend for those who wanted the world to know they "live for Techno" and were "really feeling the 90s cyber Goth aesthetic right now". Often worn by the sort of admirably-hardcore fashion queen who'd shoved you out of the way to get to the front at an Arca gig, after calling you basic.
Seatbelt belts For anyone who obsessed over Virgil’s “BELTS”, strapping yourself into this particular accessory was absolutely key during 2017. Quite possibly, the very same folks might also have had a Facebook album entitled ‘Berlin’ and muttered, “Man, this has got nothing on Berghain…” at literally every club they stepped foot in that wasn’t Berghain.
The Fiorucci factor Following the relaunch of the ultra-kitsch disco-era label -- which opened a new store in London's Soho, in autumn -- many scene-sters started channelling the glory days and nights of its iconic late-70s and early 80s New York boutique, where the likes of Grace Jones, Debbie Harry, Madonna, Keith Haring and Andy Warhol used to hang out, en route to Studio 54. Cutesy cherub logo bombers and shiny-stretchy supertight jeans were thereafter seen on those too young to remember Fiorucci's original heyday and on those old enough to never forget it.
Mullets For those who wanted the world to know they were so subversive it hurts and, "don’t give a fuck about conventional notions of beauty", a scruffy mullet -- preferably hacked into shape with a pair of blunt scissors, bleached with cheap supermarket peroxide and proudly featuring a month's worth of roots -- became the ultimate really-contrived-in-order-to-look-casual hairdo. Often spotted at NOW Gallery private views, on Dalston Superstore's dancefloor and in Central Saint Martins' canteen.
Text James Anderson with additional research from Honor Cooper-Hedges.
This article was originally published by i-D UK.