Nice and Comfortable

Functional luxury is having a moment. Embrace this laid back trend without feeling too relaxed.

When someone told me Birkenstocks were making a comeback two years ago, I nearly choked. Then I saw them in Vogue last year, which cemented their return to fashion. Now, I own two pairs.

For the first decade in the new millennium, I spent a considerable amount of time trying to curate a wardrobe that looked expensive. I invested in pieces that had clean tailoring, well-placed logos and the right amount of glitz to turn heads. Suddenly, I find myself trying to add more normalcy to my looks.

Today’s luxury is more about blending in than standing out. According to this article from the Washington Post, luxury is being defined by millennials who care more about a product’s story than its label. A quick peek inside the halls at Mall of America reveal this shift is in full swing. Here are three fashion basics that have transformed in the last several years — they’ve gone from flashy and brand-oriented, to subtle, understated and surprisingly normal.

Evolution of the It Bag

The once ornate bag-of-the-moment with chunky hardware and clever detailing is now being replaced by straightforward, durable carryalls in rugged leather and natural fibers.

  • Madewell The Transport Tote ($168)
  • Fossil Vickery Drawstring Satchel ($188)

Bringing It Down a Level

Five years ago, your status in life was practically determined by your heel height. Today’s coveted shoes are practical and comfortable – a complete 180 from the sticks of yesterday. Birkenstocks have made a major comeback, and athletic shoes are having a moment among the fashionably elite.

  • Nordstrom Birkenstock ‘Arizona’ Soft Footbed Sandal ($134.95)
  • Journeys Vans Era 59 Skate Shoe in Leopard ($54.99)

A Focus on Fit

Five years ago, my dry cleaning pile was stacked with cashmere, tweed and silk. Today? It’s virtually non-existent. Current fabrics are natural and work with bodies — not against them. Many brands have launched athletic labels to accommodate the demand for clothes that fit well and perform even better. lululemon practically made yoga pants luxurious, and other brands like Athleta and Calvin Klein Performance are touting fit and performance alongside fashion.

  • Athleta Stripes Chaturanga Capri ($64)
  • Athleta Tropical Revelation Capri ($74)
  • Athleta Sentry Hoodie Sweatshirt ($98)
  • Athleta Lightweight Bombtastic Jacket ($98)

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