WOMEN, FASHION HAS YOU COVERED

It is a truism of the history of dress that decade-defining looks generally don’t congeal until quite late in the period they eventually come to represent. The miniskirts and Crayola colors of the 1960s, the power shoulders of the ’80s, the minimalism of the ’90s — all reached critical mass well into the midpoint of those eras, when whatever had been bubbling up in wardrobes and on sidewalks found its reflection in the wider world.

Well, we have finally reached that stage in the 2010s. The tectonic plates of fashion have shifted. Look around. What do you see?

Look to the runway: During the recent round of fashion shows, suits — and sleeves and long skirts — dominated. Look to the street, and the stores.

“Women who once bought strapless dresses with a little skirt are now buying evening gowns with sleeves and high necks,” said Claire Distenfeld, the owner of Fivestory, the destination boutique on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. “Four seasons ago we couldn’t sell a blouse, and now everyone wants a blouse. Young women who used to come in and buy Balmain’s nonexistent dresses are leaving with knee-length skirts with a sweater or blouse by Emilia Wickstead.”

And speaking of Balmain — even that label offered long knits, long sleeves and long crocodile skins among the short-’n’-fringed styles in its last collection.

Look to the red carpet: There was Ruth Negga owning the last awards season in a series of generously sleeved frocks, and then showing up at the Oscars almost entirely covered in red Valentino — long sleeves, high neck, long skirt — and making pretty much every top 10 best-dressed list of the night. Ditto Jessica Biel (in long-sleeved, high-necked, floor-length gold KaufmanFranco) and Isabelle Huppert (in long-sleeved, crew-necked, floor-length white Armani Privé).

Look to your own closet.

I did. And I discovered that after over four decades of believing long skirts represented women’s antiliberation, acres of material that impeded progress, of choosing to get married in a short dress and wearing short dresses to the Met Gala (twice) and cheering whenever celebrities wore miniskirts to awards shows as a declaration of independence, I had acquired over the past six months not just one ankle-length skirt, but two dresses with handkerchief hems that likewise reach my feet. Also long sleeves and round necks.

“It’s a macrotrend,” said Ghizlan Guenez, founder of The Modist, a new fashion site. Which is to say, a trend that goes beyond fashion. But what exactly is it?

The end of the naked look. The beginning of a new age of female “pluri-empowerment” (as Iza Dezon, a trend forecaster, told CNN), as expressed through the kind of dress that prioritizes the individual and her needs over the clichés of female role play. Arguably it began, as these things do, at least two years ago — The New York Times began chronicling young women on the streets of Brooklyn layering clothes in creative ways that shielded or swaddled their bodies back in 2015. But it is only now reaching critical mass, thanks to a convergence of social, political and cultural factors as reflected in clothing.