Would You Wear… Embroidery?

Just about every major fashion era from the last half of the 20th century has been revived at least once since the millennium. Most recently, the grungy ’90s trends have been taking over the market with the approval of nearly everyone born after 1990, and even the 80s are making a cameo every now and then.

What we’ve been missing – and thus what is inevitable – is a revival of 1970s fashion. 1970s fashion can be summed up nicely in one word: embellishment. If your thing didn’t have a thing on it – why not?! There are sequins, appliques, punk rock patches, and fringe to add to nearly everything you own. If you’re a true ’70s anachronist, though… you’re wearing embroidery.

A recent swarm of off-shoulder tops, bell bottom jeans, and Annie Hall tribute hipster fashion  is giving me major flashbacks to my Mom’s old wardrobe. Or, for the more fashion history inclined, Chloé circa Lagerfeld vibes. And when Taylor Swift posted a custom-embroidered hoodie on Instagram, fate was set: embroidery was coming back.

Lauren Hutton & Margaux Hemingway

Back in the 1970s, if you had a needle and some thread, or an iron, you could technically embroider something. Stitching or ironing a colorful design onto your favorite pair of bell bottom jeans was common practice. When the fashion designers picked up the embroidery trend, that’s when things really kicked off, making embroidery an iconic feature of 1970s fashion.

Being that florals in fashion is one of the strongest, most un-killable trends ever, you can expect to see floral embroidery popping up all over the place. In fact, embroidery hit the runway as recently as Fall/Winter 2016. Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney, and Alexander McQueen, and Gucci are just a few of the high end design houses that have re-adopted embroidery in the last couple of years.

Gucci Pre-Fall 2016

Runway embroidery from a couple years ago means that affordable fashion retailers are now carrying loads of embroidered clothing. From overalls to socks, everyone has something with embroidery on it, and frequently, it looks like it came right out of the 1970s.

Boohoo, for example, has taken this trend to heart and has a full collection of Joni Mitchell-worthy gear. Target has also jumped on the bandwagon, offering embroidered denim jeans, skirts, overalls – you name it, they’ve got it.

Boohoo Ana Embroidered Smock Dress
Target Mossimo Embroidered High Rise Jeans
$32.99 $25

Leave it to the true tastemakers, though, to bring embroidery fully into the second half of the 2010s. Bloggers, Instagrammers, and indie designers are all responsible for any coolness that’s associated with embroidery, currently. Here’s how they made quick work of the embroidery trend:

Tessa Perlow
(Shirt of her own design)

(Jeans are from Topshop)

Laura Jade Stone
(Skirt is from Topshop, $68)

One Little Mama
(Iron-on patches from Amazon, $7.99)

Merrick’s Art
(Jacket from Nordstrom)

See Anne Jane
(Sweater from ZARA, $149)

Embroidery has an inherent innocence to it, and if there’s one thing that doesn’t go well with the current generation, it’s protecting innocence. Naturally, to rid embroidery of its excessive purity, you gotta sex it up. Sometimes a lot.

(Top from eBay, $8.32)

(Dress is by Boohoo, $31.50)

Another way to mute the potential dowdiness of embroidery: add it to tough stuff. Motorcycle jackets, leather boots, belts… any garment that can withstand high levels of abrasion is very well suited for this new perspective on embroidery.

Hello Fashion
(Jacket by Blank NYC, $168)

Rose Embroidered Converse
(Custom shoes from Etsy, $200)

So embroidery is back, but does it fit into your personal style?

Would you wear embroidery?

Probably watching Netflix.