Today I’m going to share with you THE GUIDE – The Newest, Coolest things to add to your wardrobe this year ‐ and tell you how to put these apparel and accessories together for a trendy and polished look.  Pulling from our counterparts in the retail sector we have uncovered the best trends to hitch your brand to.  Can’t decide what apparel items to pick for an upcoming event?  We’re here to help!  There are many factors affecting modern fashion, and we have identified 2 major trends to help guide you in your apparel decisions.

The New 9 to 5- Work and Play Combined into One!

One of the biggest sections of our wardrobes are the clothes we wear for work– so we thought we would take a look at what it means to dress for work in 2016.  Is there still a work uniform, and if so, what does it look like today?  Due to advances in technology and a shift to a more casual work environment,  many of us now have a 24/7 life.  So we are living in a paradigm where we now have to say that 9 to 5 no longer means 9 AM to 5 PM – but rather 9 AM to 5 AM.  More and more people are looking for an outfit that can be worn to work and then to a happy hour or a networking event afterwards.  Consumers want style and function over uptight and uncomfortable clothing.

Enter the newest trend, bleisure-wear.  Bleisure (or business leisure) pieces are nice enough to wear at work, but can also work in a casual setting and are perfect for the “Bleisure Traveler”.  According to a report written in 2014, 46% of people add personal travel days to almost every business trip, and 79% of people believe that doing so adds value to work assignments.  These stats mean that there is a big market of business travelers who could benefit from bleisure-wear.  Why pack 10 outfits when you could pack 3 versatile outfits that are multi-purpose?

Bleisure for men

So how would you pack for a trip like this?  Here’s one look at it – A non‐iron shirt, a luxe knits like this above pullover, or blazer work great as crossover pieces for business or leisure.  These items pack well and allow for active movement because the knit allows you to move with ease.  With these pieces you also have the added opportunity of being able to show your individual style by adding a striped or patterned sock (which is very popular right now!).

So how do traditional ties fit into this new equation? They can still be entered into the bleisure-wear mix as well, but we encourage you to have a bit of fun with the patterns. In GQ last month they had an article entitled – “It Ain’t Clash’in if it’s Fashion” all about the trend of men opting for more boldly patterned ties.  For most men, a tie isn’t required anymore, so it is completely up to you.  Even world leaders are opting out of wearing ties, and CEO’s like Mark Zuckerburg have championed casual wear in office settings.

bleisure women's clothing

So, what does this new 9 to 5 look like for women?  Well – we get to relax a little too!  We are seeing many more great layering options coming on the market, like the above new Interlock cardigan!  It can be layered over a non‐iron woven for work, or you can pair it with a great textured slub tee with jogger or yoga pants to run errands or go to the gym.  The fabric is so soft and comfy and it looks sporty, but it also has a certain luxe look as well, with the fabric draping beautifully for a very feminine look.  Great work outfits don’t have to be uncomfortable!

Elemental – Function AND Fashion!

We’ve seen some of the worst winters in recent years followed by scorching summers.  The unconventional weather patterns have led to some interesting trends in fashion- because at the end of the day clothing HAS to be functional as well as stylish.  The weather has influenced retailers and they are focusing heavily on spring outerwear and layered weatherproof styling with a contemporary yet functional aesthetic.  Enter the new Athleisure/ Smart-Casual trend. We are seeing many more transitional or tran-seasonal garments on the market.  Hybrid styles are popping up in every category of apparel these days, and the outerwear market is no different.  Because of our lifestyle shift to wearing more performance based items, and because of the disruption in the weather patterns, there are more opportunities for outerwear than ever.

softshell jackets and polos

One key item that has become indispensable is the soft shell jacket – it is truly a trans-seasonal hero!  A perfect soft shell has 3 bonded layers, so you have wind and rain resistance intrinsically built into the fabric and an interior surface – like a performance mesh – to provide wicking of moisture.  Add in stretch to the fabric and a soft hand with great drape to it, and you have the perfect soft shell!  We are seeing the soft shell becoming the go‐to for men and women because it transitions so naturally from work settings, because the fabric and styling is so sleek and clean.  It can easily fit into a formal work occasion to a purely sporting use like golf, where you want to be able to move and have a light layer to keep you dry and warm.   Paired with a traditional polo, which is still a staple, and you have the ability to shed layers as the temperature drops at night.

So those are 2 trends that are really standing out in the fashion world.  The days are gone when a simple cotton t-shirt will cut it with most clients.  If you want your brand to stand out it is so important to keep track of retail trends and offer apparel options that are both trendy and functional.  Demonstrate how 2 pieces can layer together for a fashion-forward look rather than just offering a stand-alone garment. Instead of selling a jacket, sell a lifestyle.  Give the end-user an apparel program that not only furthers their brand, but becomes a part of their everyday wardrobe.

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