In fashion, the past is only useful insofar as it can be referenced and reinterpreted for modern relevance. Bearing that in mind, let's not dwell so much on a "Best of 2008" concept but rather look forward to the new year ahead.
While the economy forebodes a challenging 2009, it is worth remembering that style does not necessitate throwing gobs of money into your wardrobe. Like many of the designers and retailers I looked to for advice and inspiration going into the coming year, I believe the best approach is to view it as a challenge, and an opportunity to educate oneself about the well-considered purchases you do make, and to be creative with the resources you have. Read below for other ideas, predictions, and recommendations (as well as some nominations for more things not invited back to 2009) from some of the people who have helped shape this town into a resource for inspired, independent fashion well beyond the proportion of its size.
"I'm so hooked on the '60s and '70s looks right now, so I'm hoping they're big in '09. I am going back and forth between a Diana Ross disco diva look and glam rock getups!"—Tiffanee Bean, Mabel & Zora, mabelandzora.com
"Nipped-in waistlines; lots of belts—the high-waisted trend continues. Sheer blouses and knit tops with visible bras. Spring's bold colors and prints will give way to fall's muted palette, darker shades, and introspective styles... lots of black. Conscious consumption—less shopping sprees at H&M and Forever 21 on disposable trends, more carefully considered purchases. Investment pieces that will last, [those] will be key for '09 looks."—Sarah Wizemann, Lille Boutique, lilleboutique.com
"In 2009, keep it simple, keep it local. Responsibility and accountability are the new black. Keep a watch for new lines using Pendleton wool—the local sheep shearer will be back in a big way."—Danielle Higgins, Moonwoods, moonwoods.com
"Big chunky cowls and neck warmers are already enjoying their huge practical hit. Realistically, most of us will be strapped for cash after Christmas, even more so this year, so I predict that in 2009 thrift and vintage will turn the tide even more. I predict that the hot colors for 2009 will be dusty, muted colors, and am wishing very hard that the complexity of gray will make a big comeback."—Tiffany Pang, Muntedkowhai, muntedkowhai.com
"I think people are going to have to be smart, and retailers are going to have to be on top of their game to keep up with where people are financially. I am looking at this economy as a challenge to overcome, and I will be switching things up to make it work."—Justin Machus, Local35, local35.com
"For winter '09: Acne androgynous tops at Stand Up Comedy (shopstandingup.us), textured leather motorcycle pants, boots made from old blankets, flannel headbands, fringed scarves, goggles. The Reif cocktail 'tuxedo' dresses for party times (reif-haus.com). All white: Moth Love antheraea polyphemus leggings (mothlove.com), Heather Treadway anti-theft leggings (paperdollfashion.com), Doo.Ri tops and bottoms. Layers of thick, chunky Sword+Fern recycled glass and chain necklaces. Black lipstick and white mascara on casual Friday.
"For spring '09: Knit dresses and skirts—think Esprit circa 1988, geometric anything. Emily Katz's orange wrap dress (emilykatz.com). Shorts and shin-high boots with thigh-high stockings. Geometric T-shirts and dresses.
"For summer '09: Anna Korte leather earrings (iheartanna.com). Mociun Ts at Frances May (francesmay.net). Heather Treadway's black triangulator jacket. Crazy patterned spandex leggings with high-top Reeboks or wrestling shoes."—Emily Baker, Sword+Fern, swordandfern.blogspot.com
"Overall we will begin to see a more homogenous, mainstream look from the big designers because they can't afford to take risks. Thrift store chic will be back in a big way, and people will mix and match to create more individual styles to let their personality show. As far as labels go, the best trends will be set more and more by the young, adventurous types and local designers. The smart ones will survive. Nationwide there will be a resurgence of craft (pottery, sculpture, knitting, metalsmithing) as a means of comfort and as secondary income. What I personally will not be welcoming back in '09: Negative media sensationalism, which forces consumers (wrought with guilt) into lockdown mode, and leaves no room in their finances for fun and games, meals out, or new outfits. I do believe our economical problems are real and need to be addressed, but we need to continue to support businesses we love, and offer help and laughter to people who are struggling."—Katy Kippen, Nolita, nolitaonline.com
"We've been thinking a lot about men's clothes because we are adding a couple men's lines in the spring. What we want to see a lot more of in '09: this 'real working man' look. Big rough hands, a body molded by physical labor, the tortured writer who spends his days in the oil fields and nights in the pub sitting in the corner drinking whiskey and working on his manuscript by candlelight. We are madly in love with this man and his plaid on plaid, his flannel done right, his dark worn-in jeans, his government-issued jacket, Tom Ford sunglasses, and distressed leather shoes. For the ladies it's mostly a heartfelt plea: 'No 9-0 in '09!' Please, please, please, let's stop this '90s resurgence in its tracks. No cowl-legged super-tapered pants. In fact, no more extra fabric in the thighs, waist, or crotch. Hammer Pants are not invited back! The '90s were hands down the worst era of fashion for women. Trust us, we have photographic proof."—Celestial Sipes and Gina Johnson, Radish Underground, radishunderground.com
"Simplicity in design/function/production. Inflated outsourcing of overly available goods versus handmade, independent, and SLOW (made-to-order) fashion. Approach design uniquely. Be savvy in your selections and who you support. Yours is mine, is ours, is mine. This is the time to refine."—Gretchen Jones, Moth Love, mothlove.com