Runway Reading Made Easy

In the world of fashion, runway shows are a key element in determining future trends and fashions for the masses. While high-fashion is often over the top, it is useful to develop an eye for interpreting these looks as ideas seen on the runway often make their way into our closets in a much more “wearable” way. If you want to stay current and know which items are “hot” each season, you must learn to read the runway. Interested? Keep reading. I’ll help you get started!

First off, it’s incredibly important to remember runway shows are just that, shows. They are meant to entertain, enlighten and provide the point of view of the designers take on trends and styling. A show is a concept, featuring outfits that are not usually approachable, accessible or even appropriate for everyday life. If you’ve ever thought, “Wow, I really couldn’t rock a beehive hairdo, I’d look ridiculous,” or “Maybe those moonboots won’t work shopping at the local grocery store,” you’re probably right. This is where you must read between the lines.

Observe various looks and notice key themes. Then decide whether or not the “theme” fits with your personal style. Not all trends work on every body.

Here are the basics on what to look for when interpreting a totally fab runway look. By focusing on these categories, you can turn a complicated, unapproachable ensemble into a totally attainable look. Your way!


One of the easiest ways to start interpreting a runway look(s) is to focus on the colours. Are there lots of neutrals? Blacks? Neons? Metallics? Make a note of this as you look across the collection.


Look at the fabrics the designer has chosen. Are the pieces made of cotton or silk? Leather or tweed? Always be on the lookout for the major materials which include leather, tweed, silk, lace, sequins, spandex, velvet, felt, wool, flannel and denim.

Prints and Patterns

Sometimes the only thing you need to do to emulate a runway look is to get a piece of clothing or accessory in the “it” pattern. Look for favourite patterns such as florals, checks, flannel, and ikat.


Scout for pieces similar to those in the runway look(s). Are there bowler hats? Scarves? Belts? Updating your accessories each season is one of the best ways of ensuring you stay current. Sometimes all it takes is a simple scarf or statement jewel!


Designers love to incorporate styles from previous fashion eras. When viewing a collection, try to identify if the ensembles make reference to any of these important times. Popular influences include: punk, western, safari, bohemian, military, glam rock, flapper and all historical eras from Edwardian to the twenties through nineties.

By making notes in these key categories, you will have a better idea how to translate high-fashion looks into everyday wear. Fashion reading is quite intuitive but it does take practice to observe various looks and notice the key themes.

Ready to give it a whirl? Here are some of my favourite sites for runway looks:

For more real-life fashion inspiration check out these sites:


Photos by Marcus Tondo – Chloe Spring 2014 Ready-to-Wear


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