Clothes Lines: Graphic content ahead

Chelsea Peng, Columnist

If absence truly makes the heart grow fonder, we’re way beyond fashion friends by now. So let’s skip the double air-kisses and false promises to catch up in Paris and cut right to the no-frills, BFF-appropriate Fashion Month coverage.

We saw glow-in-the-dark electrical tape headbands, 1960s-striped escalators and Furkinstocks, but when it came to streetwear, the standout trend was something far more recognizable: the graphic sweatshirt or T-shirt.

Instead of saving your trusty Northwestern pullover for game days or the library, take a cue from show-goers and designers alike and re-imagine cotton jersey for the catwalk. Italian brand MSGM showed stylized floral wallpaper-print sweatshirts for pre-fall 2012, and this version reappeared in September on the backs of many an editor/stylist/buyer/fashion industry hanger-on. For an even cuter variation on the look, see Lena Dunham  in an “I’m with her” sweatshirt at Rachel Antonoff’s twee summer wedding-themed spring 2013 presentation (where she also debuted a freshly shorn pixie cut). And how could anyone forget Kenzo’s tiger-embroidered jumper, the $255 apple of Tommy Ton’s well-trained eye?

Animals, botanicals and clever phrases aren’t the only sweatshirt-worthy subjects. Elle Style Director Kate Lanphear has dressed for years in Jim Beam, Slayer and Guns N’ Roses shirts, and more famously, a Princeton pullover lauded by Garance Doré. Photographers like Scott Schuman have also snapped sweatshirts inscribed with Harley-Davidson, D.A.R.E and pro-Gainsbourg insignias, and my favorite slogan: “Ballinciaga Harlem.” The point then is irreverence: Show what you like (the weirder the better) and know nothing’s sacred. All is permitted — even mixing Chanel bouclé and *NSYNC.

With this attitude, you only need a little instruction to put together an outfit that’ll have you mistaken for Miroslava Duma. You’ll need something shiny, because — didn’t you hear? — metallic is a new neutral. I like a sheeny, intricately draped skirt or mirrored blucher. Keep the fit of your sweatshirt or T-shirt relaxed (for piling on dresses and tops without looking too lumpy), but not too oversized. Aim for a contrast-color bottom half: Try seven-eighths ankle pants (jungle green was a popular choice this season), a sunshine-y flippy skirt or a printed dress peeking out under the sweatshirt hem. Moving up the body, a collared shirt (optional: tucking in one point) and bib necklace emphasize you haven’t just thrown on a jumper as an alternative to proper outerwear. Speaking of which: Wear your jacket like all the editors do—slung casually over the shoulders like a cape (ease of texting not guaranteed).

There’s something rather daring about proclaiming your grade-school obsession with say, the Backstreet Boys, and opening yourself to both sidelong glances and admirers of your courage (and music taste). But quite fittingly, a T-shirt — precisely one worn by Anne-Catherine Frey (of French label The Kooples) over a chambray button-up — explains this entire affair best. “L’amour toujours,” it declared in Diptyque-style lettering: love always. Because you never look better than when you’re wearing your heart on your sleeve.