The overarching mood of autumn/winter 2022's fashion trends can be summed up in one word: nostalgia. Now, nostalgia comes in many different forms depending on your age, experiences and interests. Whatever you might associate with happier, simpler times has likely been translated to the runways for the upcoming season because the creative collectives in New York, London, Milan and Paris have all been feeling that desire for a better life. Designers powered through the past two pandemic years with optimism, channeling their energies in quite literal pick-me-up trends such as dopamine dressing—a hashtag that continues to garner attention on almost all social platforms—but with the easing up of restrictions and a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, more varied style directions are opening up too.
Although the loudest takes on nostalgia are defining the A/W 22 outlook (more on that in a minute), for the minimalists out there, who perhaps have felt a little underserved in the past couple of seasons, a return to '90s and '00s basics will provide a great palate cleanser. If there's going to be one viral item of the season, it'll be Prada's white vest. Yes, that's correct: As we roll into the winter months, there's a surprisingly humble, surprisingly summery item that will be on the majority of fashion people's wish lists. We can already see that plain(ish) white vests are trending in high-fashion circles—Loewe's anagram-emblazoned version is selling like crazy. Other subtle riffs on minimalism are on offer as well: Oversized tailoring, classic suits, bomber jackets, maxi skirts and neutral colours are plentiful for those who want them.
Euphoria—the costumes, the cast, the makeup, the wild lifestyles—felt omnipresent throughout the shows. The throngs of young fans hoping to get a peek at Jacob Elordie or Sydney Sweeney walking into a fashion show seemed to be larger than ever. But there's no denying the big, pink attention-seeking elephant in the room: TikTok and youth-driven pop culture are the dominant forces for autumn/winter's look. The perception of TikTok is that it's the place where "extra AF" has found its natural home and that no Y2K stone will be left unturned. To a point, that is true, but I would argue that the platform offers much more across personal styles, subcultures and age groups, and I think that it's actually this diversity and freedom of taste that has led to designers tapping into even skimpier noughties looks and a veritable banquet of party looks for the best night ever and little offshoots such as the #gothaesthetic, too. "Expect the unexpected," says fashion expert and Flannels head of womenswear elevation Emma Ilori. "Over-the-top, more-is-more, experimental wardrobes—pushing the boundaries of everyday dressing. We're ready to be out and be seen. Think fresh-off-the-runway social media moments and head-turning full looks." And things couldn't be more committed to that idea than they are over at Valentino, where—during what could arguably be the show of the season—Creative Director Pierpaolo Piccioli crafted a custom hot-pink hue in collaboration with Pantone. Prepare to see Valentino Pink PP (or at least as close as any other brand can get) everywhere.
"The season's overarching mood is one of fun and extravagance, and the A/W trends are set to be all about OTT fashion. Bags are getting bigger, colours are getting brighter, and everything seems to have been covered in shiny sequins," says Morgane Le Caer, content lead at Lyst. And almost every single buyer I spoke to echoed the sentiment—investing heavily in clothes and accessories that spark joy in the most conspicuous of ways. "More is definitely still more, with party continuing to be the predominant trend for the upcoming season," says Heather Gramston, head of womenswear buying at Browns. "As a company, we've invested in partywear across our ready-to-wear collections and non-apparel, and we anticipate the Browns customer will be wanting to dress up at every given opportunity."
There was a surreal vibe over in Paris—Loewe, Rick Owens and Schiaparelli's conceptual takes on fashion are attracting a new and younger crowd of dedicated shoppers who want items that not only provide uniqueness in every single #GRWM post but also could potentially hold their value and become more important over time—resale is the new side hustle, after all. The surreality wasn't limited to aesthetics, as the fashion world found itself in quite a predicament during the show season as Russia launched a war on Ukraine. While each person is allowed their opinion on whether the spectacle of runway shows should have continued or not, it's important for me to share that I have received messages from Ukrainian fashion brands who are miraculously keeping their businesses running and want retail to keep going. As this story is one of the most popular of the season, I want to take the chance to say please support these great labels if you can: Sleeper, Anna October and Vita Kin are just a few of my favourites.
Without further ado, keep reading for the full rundown of autumn/winter's fashion trends for 2022, as told by the experts.
Photo:Courtesy of Prada, Helmut Lang, Bottega Veneta, Beaufille
"We're extremely excited that our favourite Y2K trend has endured for another season. Ahluwalia, Etro and Gauchere showcased some incredibly nostalgic low-slung waistlines, which we predict will be a huge hit with our customers," says Libby Page, fashion expert and senior market editor at NET-A-PORTER.
The difference with this take on the '90s is that it's all about pared-back looks from the era. Think of the OG set including Helmut Lang, Ann Demeulemeester and Jil Sander, and you're on the right track. It's all plain skirts, even plainer vests, simple low-slung trousers and not a scrap of makeup.
Lyst's Morgane Le Caer notes that this "low-key luxury" could be seen at Bottega Veneta (under new stewardship with Matthieu Blazy) and The Row and that it provides the oppositional aesthetic to all of the loud looks available throughout the rest of the runways.
Photo:Courtesy of Marni, Alexandre Vauthier, Coperni, Balmain
Jackets played a big part in any decent '90s uniform, and we saw the return of not only the classic moto, or biker, jacket but the bomber too. Already this year, thanks to social media, moto jackets have been making a comeback, and searches for second-hand versions on Depop have spiked over the past few months.
Marni's off-the-shoulder styling will provide many with a more directional idea, while Maria Grazia Chiuri repositioned the item as a cool way to toughen up a pretty skirt. The look of heavy-duty leathers extended past outerwear and into biker-jacket skirts or motocross leather pants, with some brands going so far as to double or triple up on leather pieces worn together for the full "I just left my Harley outside" effect.
Photo:Courtesy of Gabriela Hearst, Valentino, Nina Ricci, Stella McCartney
“Dopamine dressing will be ever-present. Mood-boosting hues with bright Barbie
pinks made a splash on the Valentino, Prada and Versace runways. Green is also a top fashion colour, equalling 11% of current investment, blue at 10% and pink at 7%," says Kayla Marci, market analyst at Edited. "The runways prove that A/W 22 will be unseasonably bright and retailers can look to colour up their best-performing coats, dresses, suit sets and sweaters in hot magenta, red, royal purple, tangerine, zesty green and azure to provide shoppers positive sentiments tied to their apparel purchases."
The exact application of colour through designer collections is also what will influence many of us. Designers used particular shades repeatedly (often head-to-toe) rather than opting for more complex clashes or combinations. As already noted, Valentino's show was either all pink or all black, Stella McCartney leant into purple (after also supporting it for S/S 22), and designers such as Sarah Burton at McQueen or Gabriela Hearst at her namesake brand explored a citrus range. Bottega Veneta's Insta-friendly leather fringed skirts in purple and green will offer a cool way to do vibrancy in a more understated way with a simple grey knit.
If there's one (welcome) hangover from the pandemic, it's comfortable footwear. This summer has been gripped by Birkenstock Boston Clog mania, and fortunately, many designer brands are offering equally "ugly" and foot-loving options for autumn/winter 2022. With biker style back in vogue, it's no wonder that stompy moto boots are also returning. Continuing from the last few autumn seasons' track soles, any similar boots you've bought recently still stand up. You will start to see the addition of a few tweaks going forward: steel-toe caps, lace-up details, square toes, metal hardware and longer lengths reaching up to mid-calf or even up to the knee.
Add them to a pretty outfit, and they'll instantly temper it. Pop on a pair with a '90s look, and you'll look like a celeb arriving at LAX back in the day. Try them out with a short skirt, and the casual makeover will be complete. Basically, wear them!
Photo:Courtesy of ACNE Studios, Peter Do, Jil Sander, Khaite
"Nineties nostalgia will continue to influence autumn/winter 2022 fashion, with mood-boosting hues and gender-fluid tailoring dominating the market—think hot pinks, chartreuse and slouchy, oversized blazers," says Marci. And it's that slouchy oversized blazer—a trend that has been burning for quite a few seasons now—that appears to be most prominent. Where the trend for oversized silhouettes had previously been balanced out with slimmer fits or bare skin, for autumn/winter 2022, you'll find a dedication to the look head-to-toe.
"This is all about refined, pared-back luxury that has a real sense of ease when it comes to styling choices—think vest tops with beautifully tailored trousers and silky slip skirts with matching shirts," explains Who What Wear editor Emma Spedding. "It's Gwyneth Paltrow. It's Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy. And it's, in my opinion, the chicest way to get dressed this autumn."
Blame it on Billie Eilish, or a general yearning for clothes to feel completely relaxed in without reverting to loungewear, but baggy is in. Max Mara went large on everything, from coats to pants and layered jackets. ACNE Studios set its jumbo blazers against wader-style boots. Khaite's baggy-jeans-and-giant-jacket combo will undoubtedly spark many an outfit re-creation within fashion circles and beyond. The easiest pieces to add to your wardrobe? Try for a pair of higher-waisted baggy jeans and a bigger blazer—you'll get a lot of use out of both, together and apart.
Photo:Courtesy of Altuzarra, Hermès, Jonathan Simkhai, Dsquared2
Nostalgia for far-flung travel, for slow fashion and homespun craft, for special hand-me-down knits… all of these warm, fuzzy feelings have been translated into a slew of truly unique pieces that have a bohemian lilt. The colours are earthy and grounded, the patterns are organic and random, the textures are far too luxe and interesting to resist your touch, and in all honesty, these are the kinds of timeless looks that really do surpass seasons, years and trends because we will always have an appreciation of things that are well-made and feel a little offbeat.
Altuzarra has cemented tie-dye as a bit of a signature, and it comes in very cool mix-'n'-match forms for A/W 22, and many other brands have committed to eclectic looks head-to-toe. I like where there's an injection of tailoring, such as Johnathan Simkhai's sharp flares worn with a poncho.
Quilted and patchwork jackets are already hot tickets for S/S 22, so they'll definitely keep going.
Photo:Courtesy of Roberto Cavalli, Ulla Johnson, Giambatista Valli, Yuhan Wang
There are many strong print and pattern ideas coming through for autumn/winter 2022, but the proliferation of luxe leopard really stood out to me as feeling fresh again after a stint in the background. There are different scales and finishes, and animal prints can be employed in many ways, which is why they have become a "neutral," as many an editor or stylist will state. You can be a bit hippy like Dries Van Noten, posh and uptown like Giambattista Valli, minimalistic like Proenza, maximalist like Roberto Cavalli… The options are pretty endless, and it's never a bad thing to invest—leopard always finds its way home (to your wardrobe).
Photo:Courtesy of Magda Butrym, Area, Versace, Collina Strada
"Last season's sexy has evolved into something more elevated and glamorous, with looks for every occasion and an all-out approach to going out-out again. We saw cut-outs galore from Julia Fox's show-open for LaQuan Smith, daring midriff-exposed looks and sheer delights from Knwls and the ultimate head-to-toe pink at Valentino," says Gramston. What I have particularly enjoyed from this slew of after-dark looks is the uniqueness and nonconformity of each. It speaks to a time when individuality was more interlinked with party culture, finding your tribe and heading to a place where you could be celebrated for your differences.
"In a post-COVID world, everything is being flipped on its head. It is better to be overdressed than under, and Miu Miu is stepping into this year with the must-have pieces that every It girl is reaching for: super-cropped tops, low-rise skirts and embellishment in all the right places," agrees Ilori.
Photo:Courtesy of Givenchy, Miu Miu, Isabel Marant, Sacai
Every editor came away from the shows in Milan and Paris knowing (and telling everyone else) just one thing: Bomber jackets are going to be BIG news once more. From simplistic black flight jackets at Givenchy to shrunken suede ones at Miu Miu through to supersized, waist-nipped satin styles at both Sacai and Prada, it would appear that there is an iteration of this classic outerwear style to suit all tastes.
Each and every year, searches for "bomber jackets" spike around November, according to Google Trends, but I predict that the volume of those interested in purchasing will increase and start far sooner this year. Although many of us are well-versed in a flight-jacket-and-jeans combo, what has changed is perhaps how bomber jackets are being worn this time around with fancier items such as lacy skirts and heels or in a more relaxed way slouchy tailored trousers and sneakers.
Photo:Courtesy of 3.1 Phillip Lim, Erdem, 16Arlington and PatBo
"From sequins to embellishments, the magpie inside of me has been awakened by the A/W 22 catwalks and all the shine that came with them. My main takeaway? Sparkles aren't just for Christmas (although, that too)—this year, it's all about wearing them with pride in your day-to-day winter wardrobe. From jeans at PatBo to grey jumpers at Eckhaus Latta and puffer coats at 3.1 Phillip Lim, this is your sign to start dressing down your diamantés rather than saving them for best. You certainly won't find me complaining," says Emily Dawes, Who What Wear UK's affiliate editor and expert.
"Sparkles were strongly represented, both on and off the runway. Personal favourites were the crystal-pink bag from Off-White and Paris Texas's encrusted knee-high boots," adds Gramston. What has prompted this? Ilori has a theory: "It is the Kirakira effect—an extra dosage of twinkle to everything and anything."
Photo:Courtesy of Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton, Kenzo, Sportmax
"Autumn 2022 will signal workwear's long-awaited comeback post-pandemic, with designers juxtaposing sleek minimalism with feminine skirts and suits in their collections once seen in the 1990s. Though the runway spoke to more traditional, pre-pandemic office attire than the elevated work leisure we are used to seeing, comfort elements still remained incorporated to suit hybrid lifestyles, which have been normal for shoppers in 2022," explains Marci of this new wave of tailoring.
"A suit is my absolute go-to when I want to feel confident and polished—whether that's for the office, a dinner or an event—so I was thrilled to see tailoring woven into so many of the new-season runway collections," says Dawes. "This wasn't business as usual, though, and contrary to the flowing neutral tones layered with plenty of skin on show that we've seen in previous seasons, traditional and androgynous were the overarching themes for autumn/winter 2022. Don't be afraid to raid your boyfriend's closet for his favourite tweed blazer when you want to try this trend, then. Styling-wise, all buttoned up was the look of the day (barring a few slithers of midriff at Michael Kors), and whatever you do, don't forget the tie."
Photo:Courtesy of Nanushka, Ludovic de Saint Sernin, Kawaidan Editions, Chanel
Considering they are a staple part of the '90s lexicon, maxi skirts did not surprise me when they appeared for the new season. The trend for a slimmer-cut (often tube-like) maxi started earlier this year, and it looks like the trend will continue way into the colder months.
"The updated long, lean skirt silhouettes were an evolution from the micro hemlines that we've seen various iterations of for the past couple of seasons. Standout skirt moments came from Calvin Klein, Ludovic de Saint Sernin, Saint Laurent, ACNE and Diesel," says Gramston, simultaneously noting some of the industry's most sought-after names right now.
Photo:Courtesy of Beaufille, Giambattista Valli, Simone Rocha, Fendi
"I've always rooted for happily-ever-afters, stories where love conquers all, and it would appear designers have shared this same sentiment this season, tapping into this euphoric state when creating their most beautiful looks for autumn/winter 2022. With fabrications so light they were reminiscent of cloud nine, painted in a delicate palette of rose, ivory and eggshell then punctuated with throws of passion red, these are clothes that invite you to be the main character in your own, very fashionable love story. Who needs Heathcliff, Mr, Darcy or Viscount Bridgerton when you have Cecilie Bahnsen or Simone Rocha in your life?" says Maxine Eggenberger, Who What Wear's acting assistant editor, and she's quite right. This season's crop of extra-pretty items is enough to make even the stoniest minimalist feel a little love for pink and chiffon and frou.
If the commitment to fully colourful ensembles has you spooked, then designers have a solution: Add a bold bag. "I am a big fan of Bottega Veneta's colourful Jodie bags, so love seeing how this has extended further in the autumn/winter 2022 trends and collections," says Spedding. "You'll find lots of bright-pink handbags thanks to the likes of Valentino and Chanel, which will brighten up even the simplest of outfits. Although these will look amazing with colourful outfits, I love how they'll look with jeans, a T-shirt and a boxy blazer."
So they work with neutral looks and more vibrant ones, and there's practically every hue available and in every kind of finish. You'll find quilted, squishy numbers in sumptuously soft leathers (Bottega Veneta), more rigid pops of colour in structured bags (Valentino), posh tweeds (Chanel, of course) or playful in mini satin (Miu Miu, be mine).
Photo:Courtesy of Ottolinger, Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini, Ports 1961, Marc Jacobs
"For those who subscribe to the goth aesthetic full-time, it's so much more than a trend; it's a lifestyle, and the last thing I want to do is trivialise it. Still, it would be remiss not to chart the impact goth has on the fashion industry. With roots in romanticism offset with grunge flair, gothic looks crop up on the runway every autumn/winter season, but for 2022, they feel more prevalent than ever," says Eggenberger. "The antithesis to the bright and joyful colours that have dominated for the past few years, all-black ensembles with gothic accents were some of the most striking in the new collections. We've already touched on how Valentino used it to startling effect against its Pink PP ensembles. Other highlights include The Row's sheer mesh polo-neck dress, Isabel Marant's dominatrix-style over-the-knee boots worn with miniskirts and Loewe's elongated blazer complete with leather trousers."
And you know it's going to be big if NET-A-PORTER is supporting the idea. "'Black is back' is a key theme we've invested in for autumn/winter, which takes on a much more simplistic approach to dressing following the 'dopamine dressing' trend that dominated recent seasons. We love monochrome styling for its elegance and charm—from Saint Laurent's occasion coats to Bottega Veneta's sheer maxi dress," says Page.
A lace blouse is a very strong and reliable place to start.
And those are the 15 autumn/winter 2022 fashion trends you need to know about.
Up next, our shopping picks for the week.