Liquid leggings, bondage belts, biker jackets, layered chains, and black as the new black: this fall’s glam-rock trends can be intimidating, and that’s the whole point.
Inspired by all things ’80s, style-setting celebs like Kate Moss and big designers like Jill Stuart and Givenchy are trotting out latex looks, leather, studs, and sequins. But there’s a difference between chic and Cher (circa “If I Could Turn Back Time”), and trend followers can be forgiven for having trouble figuring out the fine line between the two.
The consensus seems to be that, unless of course you’ve got a back-stage pass to the Mí¶tley Crí¼e reunion tour, it’s probably best not to rock your sequined leggings with your studded biker jacket, heavy-metal necklaces, and buckled ankle boots. Or as H&M spokesperson Emily Scarlett says, referring to several strong trend pieces at her store, “You don’t want the big bondage belt, the big-shoulder jacket, and the ripped tights.”
Instead, she suggests pairing H&M’s must-have bondage belt—a wide band of leather cinched with two thin buckled straps ($59.95)—with a little black dress (or for a bigger statement, H&M’s version with sculptural ’80s power shoulders). It’s also cute with boyfriend jeans and a white T. Likewise, she likes to play sequined leggings ($29.95) off an oversized men’s white shirt or a classic black blazer.
“If you’re wearing something like that, keep the statement where it is,” she advises. “If you’re going out at night, of course you can dress it up even more—wear heels with the sequin[ed] leggings and chains.”
(clockwise from left) Danier’s biker-chic leather blazer; studded pumps at Winners; and beware the liquid leggings by H&M.
H&M is showing those chains hanging off belts, as well as monster buckles on bags. Check out the sleek ankle boots with little buckles ($39.95), super-cool with tights or leggings.
Vancouver stylist Luisa Rino, too, pleads with people not to take the trend too literally. “Rocker chic: it’s the idea that you have an edge, and biker elements like grommets and studs. It’s a lot of black and a lot of denim—a bit like a rock star, if you think about it,” she tells the Straight in a phone interview. “But with anything in fashion, you can’t afford to ever look like you’re wearing a costume. It just looks absurd.”
Her advice: keep the studs to subtle trim. And use glam-rock accessories in places you wouldn’t expect to see them. “Those wide bondage belts are great on a beautiful tailored black suit with a long jacket, if you want to just cinch the waist—you’ve brought it right on trend, and there’s nothing more flattering than a cinched waist.”
And while there are some hot little leather biker jackets out there—Danier (various locations) has some gorgeous-yet-edgy versions this season ($169 and up)—Rino has a recession-friendly alternative to that splurge. “You might want to pare it down so it has more longevity. I got a biker jacket in a cotton, with no grometting, at Zara [1056 Robson Street and 4700 Kingsway, Burnaby].”
The only thing Scarlett and Rino have a word of warning about is the season’s liquid leggings. They’re everywhere—from Winners’ shimmery black pair ($19.99, various locations) to American Apparel’s painted-on-look Shiny leggings ($46) to H&M’s glamalicious gold numbers ($29.95). Says Rino, “They look fantastic, but they’re a lot harder to pull off than some of the other looks. You have to have a smokin’ body to wear those, and you have to be tall.” In other words, they’re a little bit dangerous. But isn’t that what the look’s all about?