Want to nail a fashion week trend? Head outside the shows

From Gucci loafers and ankle gaps to loose hair and white polo necks, forget the catwalks. Look no further than the streets, where the showgoers are promenading all the latest looks

What would happen if you went to fashion week, but completely ignored the clothes on the catwalk? This sounds like a pretty stupid idea, even by the standards of the industry that brought you Zoolander 2. Actually, its not even remotely outlandish especially at New York fashion week, where the clothes on the catwalk can be prop-your-eyes-open-with-matchsticks dull but the audience is unfailingly compelling.

If you ever happen to be in New York during fashion week, do not make the mistake of imagining you need to be on Calvin or Ralphs nice list for a good view of the action. Instead, head down to Albert Capsouto Park on the northern edge of Tribeca, bag yourself a bench with a good view of the Laight Street crossing (right across from the entrance to the Holland Tunnel), sit back and enjoy the best catwalk show in town. Here, showgoers heading to the Spring Studios catwalk venue promenade their best looks, for the benefit of the photographers who will record their virtuoso shoulder-robing skills for posterity. Since London fashion week departed the photogenic cobblestones of Somerset House for Soho, the more picturesque stretches of Brewer Street outside Lina Stores deli, say, rather than Simply Pleasure Adult Entertainment have become unofficial catwalks around show time.

The street-style circus that has grown up around the catwalks has not so much blurred the boundaries between the seeing and the being seen as eviscerated them completely. The only meaningful distinction remaining, up until now, has been that the clothes on the catwalk are on sale in six months time, while the clothes worn on the benches are on sale now. The advent of see-now-buy-now fashion, which looks to be a new norm for the major brands within a season or two, will eradicate even this distinction. Once the models on the catwalk are wearing the same clothes as the women on the street outside, there may realistically be no need to go into the actual shows at all.

But, really: how much can you learn about what to wear now from looking at off-catwalk fashion week photos only? Well, lets examine what weve gathered from the past fortnight at fashion week, ignoring the actual collections and looking instead at everyone else. The most impactful parts of your look are always your shoes and your hair, so lets start with the shoes. It is immediately clear from even the briefest floor-level scan while waiting for a catwalk to start that the only currently show-cially acceptable shoes are Gucci loafers (not the furry kind, do keep up. A snaffle, a mid-height heel and some fringed suede), white trainers (as streamlined and minimal as possible) or Bowie-esque silver ankle boots.

Scanning up briefly from there, we take in the ankle gap. The thigh gap is clearly over: the gap that shows youve made it, right now, is the one between the top of your shoe and the hem of your trousers. (Its pretty much the same story if you are wearing a skirt, because your skirt will be midi-length, not much shorter than a cropped trouser.) You are literally no one if your ankle bone isnt out and proud. Bonus points for fraying the hem of your jeans, mainly because this draws attention to the aforementioned ankle bones.

A hair-trend analysis of off-catwalk fashion week would initially suggest there to be a worldwide drought of ponytail bands. How else to explain that hair is often visible only down to the point where it disappears inside clothes, tucked inside polo necks and popped collars? But close inspection will see this trend ebbing by the day: the new thing is to wear your hair down and all swept to the front, but on one side. Like if maybe one side of your neck had got really hot and the other side had a love bite and you had come up with a genius way to solve two problems at once. Its a thing. (One thing: pom-pom beanies. These are a trend for the norms. They are not a thing at fashion week. People would laugh.)

It is a truth generally acknowledged (this season) that if 10 showgoers are gathered in one place, three of them will be wearing white polo necks. The white polo neck, once the domain of slightly gropey ski instructors, is the new white shirt. You can basically wear anything in your wardrobe at all, with a white polo neck underneath, and you look like Alexa Chungs more fashion-forward mate.

You have the shoes, the hair, the wardrobe sorted, without ever looking at the catwalk.

Read more: www.theguardian.com