This season’s trends could feel irrelevant. But there is one that fits the strange mood of now

Jess Cartner-Morley
·2 min read
<span>Photograph: Suki Dhanda/The Guardian</span>
Photograph: Suki Dhanda/The Guardian

Most years I am genuinely excited about “new trends” come autumn, but this year they feel like an abstract concept. When autumn collections sashayed under catwalk glitter showers in early February, coronavirus was still just a news story, rather than a way of life. What relevance do predictions that designers made six months ago about what we’d want to wear for party season have in a season of government-enforced early nights?

So I find myself sceptical about why we should buy into a template for now that was dreamed up back in the old normal. If designers had a crystal ball back in February, then – guys, did you forget to charge it? Because if it had been working at fashion week, surely there would have been some hint that we would all be in tracksuits a month later?

So every time my email pings with a jazz-hands announcement of whatever new trend has just landed, it feels a bit irrelevant – even though this is technically my job. “Not now, sweetie,” I mutter distractedly, filing the latest missive about why lilac is to October what mint was to August in the folder I’m keeping of all the stuff that can probably wait a bit until the world stops falling apart.

Related: How to wear puff sleeves | Jess Cartner-Morley

The exceptions are those new looks that fit the strange mood of now. Case in point: scarf prints. The kind you get on silk squares and woven throws: a bit paisley, a bit swirly; tonal colours with maybe a metallic thread or dot running through to lift it. They were conceived as an ironic nod to bourgeois Parisian chic; but I think they appeal to me at the moment because they are rooted in a comforting old-normal, without feeling too mawkishly nostalgic. They are cheerful without being Pollyannaish, which feels about right.

Scarf prints make for good blouses, like the one I’m wearing here, and great autumn dresses. Because they have a range of tones in them, they are easy to layer up; as the weather cools, you can add tights and knitwear in any of the colours blended in the print, and you know it will work. What’s more, a scarf print makes for a good face mask. And that is about as now as a trend can get.

• Jess wears blouse, £25.99, Heels, £255, Trousers, her own. Styling: Melanie Wilkinson, assisted by Peter Bevan. Hair and makeup: Alexis Day using Chāmpo and Weleda