Belfast Telegraph

Why pop stars' urban-style fashion sense is streets ahead

By Aisling O’Connor

As autumn and winter approach, whether you're inclined to trends will dictate if you'll be embracing the latest in androgyny – the fly girl.

Urban sportswear is top dog in young fashion as gym-chic style boldly breaks out of the streets and into the fashionista's closet.

New York Fashion Week is just around the corner. The event that kicks off the spring 2014 shows serves as a guide to what's hot for autumn 2013.

Foam fingers and hard-partying aside, Rihanna and Miley Cyrus are considered two of the most fashion-forward starlets.

Both are in great demand in the front rows on account of their envelope-pushing, 1990s-infused tomboy-ish style. This influence will be evident in the attire of celebrities, magazine editors and the street style-savvy blogerati.

Last weekend's MTV Video Music Awards stamped the tough-girl image on the zeitgeist, with Cyrus prancing around in a latex bikini and sneakers, RiRi smouldering in jeans and a vintage MC Lyte tee, and Katy Perry as a boxer.

But how did this unladylike look make it from the backs of teens to the pages of Vogue?

The modern girl does enjoy a little stylised fantasy in her dress, and retro is her poison. The current revival of all things 1990s is the latest in a wave of retrocentric trends flooding the market.

Alongside this 'tapped-in' factor in the rise of urban sportswear to high fashion, there's also a strong undercurrent of the sub-culture permeating the mainstream.

The 1980s was a heady ride of excess in bold colour, print, slick glamour and an 'anything goes' sartorial attitude. Going into the 1990s, the clean lines and idea of simple pieces served as a much needed palette-cleanser.

These days the tracksuits and Adidas 'kicks' that were the uniform of rappers Run-DMC and LL Cool J couldn't be more on-trend. Exposed midriffs, trainers, tight tube skirts and oversized sweatshirts mixed with high-fashion accessories are all the rage.

The modern take on 1990s signature colour-blocking and body-con silhouettes, driven by Herve Leger and Victoria Beckham, has given way to a fresh take on sportswear at DKNY, Stella McCartney and Rihanna's foray into design at River Island. The Barbadian starlet has channelled her bad-girl attitude into a collection that incorporates loungewear, retro underwear, skinny and over-sized pieces and camouflage. The look is androgynous. And it is hot.

One might perceive this tomboy trend as the sexualisation of a teenage girl cliche. Are Rihanna, Miley and Katy embracing this athletic look (in a provocative way) in an attempt to be one of the boys, while retaining their femininity? Or is it just a racy look that plays into men's fantasies?

And will women on the business side of 30 embrace an opportunity to slouch in the name of fashion, or will they baulk at the idea of looking like a teenager?

For a gal who likes to dabble in trends, the tapered luxe sweatpant is undoubtedly the breakout essential of the year – styled to perfection with a tuxedo blazer, statement jewellery and two-strap heels by Elle MacPherson.

For those who enjoy the full fashion-victim effect, the sportswear look promises a season of painless footwear, but will need more than a few sit-ups to rock that crop-top.

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