Taylor Swift‘s fashion style has mirrored her musical evolution since the release of her namesake first album in 2006. The singer became known for using her wardrobe choices to complement her art as well as an opportunity to create new trends, make statements and drop hints about upcoming projects. So, the mission of cataloging some of the main looks worn throughout her 18-year career was exciting for Sarah Chapelle, author of the upcoming book “Taylor Swift Style: Fashion Through the Eras.”
“At her core, Taylor Swift is a storyteller and she uses both her lyrics and her outfits to communicate, to craft a narrative, to evoke memories and to create iconography,” Chapelle told WWD. “Over the course of her career, just as she’s had a musical evolution from album to album, she’s also tied each body of work she’s created to a distinct, identifiable ‘era’ of fashion.”
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The book, which will be released on Oct. 8, will feature 200 looks showcasing the singer’s style evolution, from her youthful boho dresses and cowboy boots during her debut era to more sophisticated silhouettes and luxury brands while promoting “1989” in 2014, and investing in sparkling, bejeweled outfits for “Midnights” in 2022.
Chapelle, who has been following Swift since her early years, decided to catalogue the looks as a continuation of her Taylor Swift Style blog, which she created in 2011. There, she identifies Swift’s fashion while providing commentary on what the singer is wearing and why she is wearing it. “The book is partially informed by the most memorable looks fans love in addition to outfits I deemed we may have missed along the way,” Chapelle said.
Taylor Swift’s Style Evolution
Swift has embraced many styles during her career. In 2012, the singer made 1950s housewives fashion trendy again during her “Red” era. In 2017, she brought Gothic-inspired looks to Hollywood events, wearing Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga and other luxury brands to match her “Reputation” album’s aesthetic. Two years later, Swift updated her wardrobe with romantic and flowy ensembles for the album “Lover.”
For Chapelle, her favorite Swift era is still the “1989” transformation from 2014. “By sheer volume [it] was a fun period of time to be tracking her clothing as she took to the streets of New York in coordinating two-pieces and teetering tall heels. It was a time period of outfits that were consistent, frequent and a big shift in her style that was exciting to watch roll out in real time.”
In 2023, Swift’s career reached a new level of stardom with her blockbuster “The Eras Tour” and her relationship with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. She helped brands go viral on social media, including Ksubi, Area and Wear by Erin Andrews, just by simply wearing them at football games or outings in New York City. Chapelle said Swift’s fashion influence resides in her relatability.
“As a whole, Taylor’s identity as someone approachable, emotional, vulnerable and accessible is reflected in the street style she chooses to wear,” Chapelle said. “She dresses like a ‘normal’ person in brands that often are not entirely out of reach for the everyday person. She may carry a designer bag or opt for a designer heel, but she’ll often repeat those items to get the cost-per-wear down. Not unlike someone who may save up for an investment item they plan on using for years. She’ll also often wear brands that are within reach for a lot of her fans to buy like Reformation, Aritzia or Free People. That creates an opportunity for connection with fans and I think she knows that.”
“The Tortured Poets Department” Era
As Swift gears up to start a new era — the singer announced the release of her 11th studio album, “The Tortured Poets Department,” during the 2024 Grammy Awards on Feb. 4. Swifties, like Chapelle, are anticipating how Swift’s style might reflect her new music.
The cover of the album, featuring the singer wearing a silk knit top by Saint Laurent and the Ausra brief panty from The Row in an intimate set, might be the perfect starting point to figure out the answer, according to Chapelle.
“I love the sense of both intimacy and guardedness ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ cover conveys from Taylor,” Chapelle said. “That feels like an accurate and apt portrait she might want to paint now as a superstar who’s somehow reached a new supernova level of fame and interest in her career and personal life.”
For Chapelle, Swift’s choice of wearing The Row and Saint Laurent on the album cover could have been predicted by Swifties. “Both The Row and YSL are brands that are stylish Easter eggs she planted early on in her New York style, so to see them on the cover here feels like a closing of that loop,” she said.
Swift’s recent outings in New York could also point to what style she will embrace to promote “The Tortured Poets Department.” “Her renewed love of miniskirts and loafers in recent candids called to my mind her longtime love of schoolgirl-worthy outfits but now are thrown into a new lens with this announcement in mind as her possibly leaning into a dark academia aesthetic,” Chapelle said.
Dark academia is a trend that has been seen on the runways of Prada, Miu Miu, Chanel and more during Paris Fashion Week’s spring 2024 collections. The name refers to a preppy aesthetic with a dark twist.
“I imagine that we’ll continue to see minimalist but luxurious items from brands like The Row that focus on quality basics in addition to a dark, rich color palette,” Chapelle added.
“The Tortured Poets Department” will be released on April 19. Chapelle’s book, “Taylor Swift Style: Fashion Through the Eras,” is available for preorder at taylorswiftstyle.com.
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