TREND ALERT: DUSTERS

6 October 2016

By Musa Bwanali

The duster, which can be described as a cross between a cardigan and a robe, has become a popular trend with models and street stylists.  You may, as I did at first, be wondering why it’s called a duster and how it came to be. The term duster is derived from the length of the garment, as it ‘dusts’ the floor. This retro must-have made its debut in the mid-1800s when cowboys would wear these long, ankle length canvas or cotton coats to protect their chaps from the dust trails. The cardigan dusters were brought into the fashion scene by designers like Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin and Betsey Johnson in the 1970s as they were showcased as dresses paired with knee-length boots or as outerwear over jeans and a t-shirt. Donna Karen gave the duster a more polished and formal personality when she included a long, silk duster cardigan in one of her collections in the 1980s. From then, dusters have been adapted from cardigans to coats (for chilly and rainy days) and vests (for warm weather).


The lightweight and buttonless dusters are trending this summer and can definitely be listed as must-haves. They pair effortlessly with any outfit and add a dash of zest to an otherwise boring dress. Here’s a short guide to wearing the duster:


Avoid floor-length dusters as they can shorten your length instead of elongate you. Leave the floor-length ones to the taller girls and opt for one that hits above the ankle or even higher. Depending on your height, you can go for one that hits just below the knee or at the ankle—and the best part about this piece is that it's perfect for layering! You can wear a sleeveless version over a tee in warmer weather, then trade your t-shirt for a snug knit when it cools down.
Pair your duster with fitted clothes. It’s easy to fall into the temptation of layering bohemian pieces under the duster, and this is strongly discouraged. Skip the wide-leg or flared jeans and opt for a fitted skirt or a pair of ankle-length skinnies that allow your duster to be the one loose piece you’re wearing. The baggy-on-baggy look can easily overwhelm a small frame. Add other fun boho pieces such as a fringed bag or a few layered necklaces to your look.
Dress up your duster. Play with the length of your dresses if you plan on wearing a duster vest over your look. If you’re wearing a fitted mini dress, throw a hip-length duster on for more coverage and pair with slip-on sneakers for an effortless off-duty look. If you’re wearing a midi-length dress, look for a duster that hits just above your knees for a chic take on layering. 


Always think of your duster as an accessory, much like a scarf. Beneath the duster, any length goes. It can be paired with anything, from jeans, A-line skirts to dresses and if you’re all about pushing the trends, pair them with a pair of yoga pants. Hey, it’s summer, have fun with your clothes.


A little length with a lot of elegance.


Keep it simple. Keep it stylish.

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