Spring/Summer 2009 RTW Preview

Spring seems so very far away. It’s cold, windy, rainy and snowy. And cold.

I spend my days at home wearing Uggs and using whichever pet is closest as my personal heater. At the office I count on layers and a cozy IKEA blanket for warmth. Living in California, I have no clue how anyone east of Arizona or north of Florida manages to stay warm during the frigid months.

But, cold temperatures aside, my mind is a jumble of ideas for Spring. Namely, what I will be wearing. I’ve spent the past few weeks feverishly researching the S/S 2009 RTW shows, recording trends and popular colors/silhouettes, noting my favorite collections and looks, plucking choice photos and swooning over my favorites.

I’m a bit late getting to this. In fact, pre-fall shows have started. But, better later than never!

The season was, by no means, my favorite of late. However, I am invigorated by a few things. For starters, my budget. This year I will be forced to search for value-priced items, and my patience will be challenged as I wait for said items to be marked down. Secondly, the blog. I started The Adventures of Penny Plastic with the intention of focusing on money matters, but it has quickly evolved into a forum where anything goes. That said, while I love (and look forward to) talking about fashion, my goal is to provide some useful information about wearable trends and cheap alternatives in future posts.

Trend-hunting retailers such as Topshop, H&M and Forever 21 are customarily first to identify and interpret trends each season. The more conservative specialty retailers, such as J Crew and Banana Republic take a slower and more subtle approach to interpreting the trends, while ensuring they maintain their long-established brand identities. The former are oftentimes lacking in quality and are marked down faster; which works to the consumer’s advantage when she/he is searching for trend-driven and (often) more disposable clothing.

I would love to hear from readers about choice retailers, tips for bargain/thrift/vintage-hunting, eBay and general “philosophies” on style. For now, I will dive into the prevalent trends from the Spring shows.

Spring/Summer 2009 RTW Preview – Key Trends


Normally this kind of trend would make me groan (and not with pleasure), but the majority of the clothing – and shoes – I observed were pretty fabulous and, more importantly, wearable. Pass on the bandage dresses and leather, opting instead for delicate strips of silk or cheesecloth. As for shoes, heels remained fairly delicate, the soles were not too clunky, and the embellishments (grommets and studs were popular) added some interest.


Sorry folks, there was no escaping this trend. It was everywhere. Done well (Lam, McCartney, Karan) and very, very badly (Schouler, Lauren). If you decide to venture into romper/jumpsuit land, I have a few pieces of advice; keep the style loose and the leg long, avoid shiny or stiff fabrics, avoid too much adornment, and wear heels.

Long, Slim Blazers

Be it one-button or double-breasted, make sure the hem hits south of your hips and the fit is slender. This is, of course, a near impossibility when budget shopping as well-tailored blazers are so hard to find on the cheap.

Monochromatic Color

I noticed this trend in many of the collections. I’ve always felt this was too conservative and for the ladies who wear a lot of Eileen Fisher. However, seeing so many designers experiment with monochromatic color was a real treat.

Gathered Waists

This was an equal opportunity trend – I saw it on shorts, pants and skirts. Pleats and loose fabric gathered at the natural waist and cinched with a belt.

Unique Trench Coats

For those of you in the market for a new trench – a staple of any wardrobe – now is your chance to search for unique colors, fabrications and embellishments. Keep it less structured, light and explore different lengths.

Exposed Zippers

Nothing new, and it wasn’t hugely prevalent on the runways, but it’s a trend worth noting. I’ve been seeing more subtle interpretations of exposed zippers, especially on street-focused blogs like The Sartorialist. I hope to see more of this trend…..hopefully done well.

Lamé & Metallics

I loved seeing the pops of lamé on the runways. It’s sometimes hard to remember that lamé need not be reduced to outlandish, 80’s tack. A simple dress or tank blouse in a metallic lamé done in a neutral color looks just fabulous. This is a trend I hope J Crew interprets.

One-Shoulder Dresses

Let’s face it, most of us are not in constant need of formal attire. However, if you find yourself invited to a swanky event in 2009, it’s your opportunity to rock the one-shoulder look. It was everywhere on the S/S runways. I will be curious to see if a more casual interpretation of this trend filters into retailers.

Key Colors

  • Burnt Orange
  • Deep Blue
  • Lemon Yellow
  • Blush Pink
  • Aubergine
  • Teal

Other Trends

  • Athletic Tailoring
  • Gathered Waists
  • 20’s Redux
  • Bold, Graphic Patterns
  • Crinkle Treatments
  • Painterly/Watercolor Patterns
  • Oversized Jewlery
  • Ruffle Detail
  • Prarie/Americana
  • Harem Pants
  • Sheer Overlays
  • Fringe

Penny’s Favorite Collections

While, on the whole, the S/S ’09 season did not overwhelm or greatly inspire me, I did see a few collections that stood out among their peers. In no particular order, my top ten.

I’m partial to Burberry, as it always feels so effortless and English, although never to the point of caricature. In this collection Bailey reinterpreted some of his best elements from F/W ’08; the slender (approaching legging territory) trousers, long and lean tops, chunky jewelery and overall loose/layered elegance. This collection featured a few of the key trends from S/S ’09; tonal dip-dyed ombre, slouchy but tailored boyfriend blazers, graphic jewelry, gathered waists and crinkle-textured fabrics.

Raf Simons took one the more unfortunate trends of the season, fringe, and turned it into beautiful and sleek garments for this collection. The minimalist tailoring that is the mark of Jil Sander was certainly there, but the addition of the structured fringe element gave some of the collection an avant-garde, almost alien, feel. I was especially fond of the shoes; deep black, with large cuff closures around the ankles and a slight platform.

Dolce & Gabanna put out one of the few collections that managed to walk the very fine line between interesting and overdone. I have no idea what inspired the duo to use masculine silk robes as the foundation for a greater part of their collection, but I am glad they did. Then again, most of my fashion design fantasies involve standing in front of a mirror while manipulating and draping my robe while observing the changing shape and proportions of my “garments,” so I may be slightly biased.

I would wear every piece from Derek Lam’s S/S ’09 collection. Yes folks, even the jumpsuits. It was sportswear at its best; comfortable and elegant clothing that doesn’t stand out as much as enhances the appearance of its wearer. The color palette was soft but still felt rich, and the athletic elements, such as drawstring waists, did not feel forced. Even the incorporation of metallic lamé and tapestry fabrics felt natural. This is a collection for a grown up California girl. Which, I just happen to be.

I remember when Phoebe Philo put out her first collection (sans McCartney) for Chloé, I thought, “wow, I want to be that girl.” With Philo’s departure came a few lackluster collections; a few cute pieces here and there, but nothing to write home about. Hannah MacGibbon’s debut collection for the label gave me hope that Chloé is again on the upswing. Sure, there were some misses (such as the exposed, scalloped hems on her coats), but the collection was over-all beautiful, breezy and fun. The white ruffled dresses were to die for, and I loved her integration of deep emerald green into the otherwise muted palette. The shoes were also a high-point, and some of the best flats of the season.

The mash-up that was Marc Jacobs’ collection could likely make a minimalist’s eyes bleed. British nanny meets sheik. Grunge meets tribal matriarch. Geisha goes to the office. It was one of those collections that defies explanation, but somehow works. Like his collection for Louis Vuitton, Jacobs’ namesake label pushed the limits of over-kill, but never crossed the line. Accessories enjoyed nearly as much attention as the clothing; something we’re accustomed to seeing at LV, but not necessarily Marc Jacobs.

Any designer who can put out sexy clothes that still look insanely comfortable gets my vote for Most Popular. Peter Som is the master of merging professional with breezy, sensual with ladylike. I could imagine walking into my office wearing just about everything I saw in his S/S ’09 collection.

Bless Anna Sui for telling her models that they can smile. SMILING MODELS! It’s a miracle! I barely recognize models without their smoldering mugs, and while I don’t have a preference either way, it’s just a nice break from the usual gloominess. I always adore Sui’s collections. She’s not the most innovative designer, but she knows her customer and gives her what she wants season after season. This collection featured the usual suspects, bright candy colors, embroidery, folksy charm and lots of dresses and swingy skirts.

This collection was an accessory lover’s wet dream. I really wanted to avoid adding two Marc Jacobs collections to my Top Ten, but I couldn’t help myself. The amount of…..shit, thrown onto these looks bordered on overwhelming, but with some editing you’ll find some of the coolest accessories of the season. Braided rope, chunky & graphic jewelry, patchwork obi belts, awesome sandals – all with an overarching tribal theme in rich, satuated colors and stamped leather. The clothes weren’t half bad either; short & swingy skirts, structured blazers and floaty, wide-leg pants. Louis Vuitton can sometimes feel old and repetitive, but this collection breathed life into the label, and the season. I would kill to see the inspiration boards.

There are no words to describe the treat that was Sonia Rykiel’s 40th-anniversary show. Uplifting comes to mind. Or joyous. Happy, smiling models, crazy Rykiel-inspired hair (a la Susan Sarandon in The Witches of Eastwick), sequin berets, gorgeous color palettes, beautiful gowns and cool separates. And it never ended! 108 looks total, 40 of which were designed by other designers in honor of Rykiel’s influential 40 years in the industry, including Largerfeld, Lauren and Kors. It was the absolute highlight of the season, for me. Check out the entire collection at Style Dot Com.

Penny’s Favorite Models

Old and new favorites from the S/S ’09 shows.

Penny’s Spring Wardrobe Picks


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9 Responses to “Spring/Summer 2009 RTW Preview”

  1. dyaniss Says:

    loving your blog. spring is really just around the corner here in SoCal. i think my favorite would be DVF’s ready to wear spring collection. will definitely check out your blog regularly. =D

  2. pennyplastic Says:

    Her collection was fantastic. I had it in my top ten but she was bumped…..
    I am in Northern California and the weather today was GORGEOUS! It was like 70 degrees! Insane.

    Many thanks for the compliment, please do check back :-)


  3. Melissa (AthertonMerriweather) Says:

    Thanks for this post. I’m fashion challenged and trying to break out of my mold of cardigans and t-shirts. In fact, it was my New Year’s Resolution! I appreciate the work you put into this post because I wouldn’t even know where to begin. One trend I did notice that you didn’t mention was big, bib necklaces. I don’t know how practical they are for daytime, but they seem like something fun to try on a Saturday night out with a little black dress. Thanks again for this post!

  4. J.D.Regent Says:

    Indulge me while I ramble somewhat, I’ve been mulling over the concept of frugal style quite a lot lately. Traditionally my entire wardrobe consists of thrift shop, H and M, Urban Outfitters on sale, and ratty old boots. For my conservative workplace I tend to wear vintage suits and jewelry, so I look appropriate without being too reg. I treat it like a Girl Friday costume. I refuse to pay more than twenty bucks for most items. I have a discount card at my local thrift warehouse and regularly put thrift shop clothes down for being too expensive. I update my wardrobe through accessories so it’s cheaper, reworking old pieces by changing tights, belts, ridonkulous earrings, etc. My husband on the other hand obsesses over quality and will save to purchase some English tailor handmade thing he will get on Ebay. He buys quality but old suits at thrift shops and has a great relationship with a tailor, and frequently repairs his own clothing and shoes. He prefers to save, invest, and not own anything cheap or that he dislikes. He spends way more than I would dream of spending on a single item, but my wardrobe is nearly twice the size of his. In short, the way you deal with frugal chic — either with lots of disposable clothes like me or a few investment pieces like the mister — depends on the balance you strike between quality and quantity/diversity. In both cases, I think it pays to develop a personal style, so you’re less hellbent on chasing trends and know you can rock the same suit for decades. The one place I find it impossible to go cheap is shoes, because my feet are fucked.

  5. elizabeth Says:

    Penny–first .and foremost, thank you for a succinct, intelligent distillation of the upcoming season. I’ve found less and less inspiration from scrolling through even my favorite designers on Style dot com, and getting a no-nonsense read on them from someone who can write well without being condescending about it (*coughVoguecough*) is positively refreshing.

    That said, I have to say that I derive the most inspiration (especially lately) for my wardrobe from various films and television shows. Only recently have my husband and I gotten into Weeds, but I have to say that I love the casual-chic clothes Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) wears season in and out, and the fact that the costumers stick to a pretty neutral palette for her–lots of black, with some white, beige, pale pink and other colors thrown in from time to time to spice things up (and the black-heavy wardrobe is a nice nod to the notion of widows weeds, or the clothes women would wear while deep in mourning). While it’s not the most inspired track, I always try to avoid co-opting an exact look and instead ry to infuse the spirit of the original look, with an effort to avoid the most obvious touches that could make you look silly (and that will vary by wearer, to be honest), which is why I take any style cues from Gossip Girl (for example) with a very firm pinch of salt.

    And as JD Regent mentioned above, jewelry is a great way of refreshing a look without making massive investments, and as someone who loves to make jewelry, this can turn into a very fun project (especially when you’re able to disassemble your old project to turn it into something new). It’s one of the few areas where I will attempt pretty blatant DIY projects, but because a.) I’m not selling them and b.) the original parts are so different, it’s a fun way for me to think creatively in the design process.

  6. Amoureuse Says:

    Love your blog! And you definitely were not kidding when it comes to being stylish and living on a budget. Your readers in the DC area should check out Polly Sue’s Vintage Shop in Takoma Park. Her pieces range from the 1920’s-1980’s and are absolutely beautiful. The downside to Polly Sue’s is that the sizes kind of run a little small ( yes, we have become a fatter nation).
    Two doors down from Polly Sue’s is a really cool bead shop. Their selection is pretty diverse and the ladies who work there are very attentive and will definitely point you in the right direction to get started, so you can actually save some $$ and make your own jewelry.
    I am a big fan of designer jeans (tall girl – long inseam), I am currently in love with J Brand’s Love Story but refuse to dole out $$$. I tried on a pair at Nordstrom’s for $163 ( I wanted to check the fit & try on different sizes) but will probably purchase it on Ebay for $69.99 or less.

  7. J.D.Regent Says:

    Amoureuse — you will be as horrified as I to discover that polly sue’s is CLOSING!!!! because of this hideous economy. So is another thrift shop in TkPk. However I think it will live on the internet. One can hope!

  8. F/W 2009 RTW - Peter Som « Says:

    […] 2009 RTW – Peter Som By pennyplastic Peter Som put out one of my favorite Spring 2009 collections.  His collection for fall is quite different than his muted, romantic […]

  9. If You Could Only Buy One Thing This Spring, What Would It Be? « Says:

    […] be the place to start.  But….pants?  That sounds so boring.  I’ve already decided what I love for Spring, how could I ever […]

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