Yes, you can play with your clothes

FILE -- A Proenza Schouler Haute Couture fashion show in Paris, Jan. 22, 2018. Fidget spinners are so 2017; in 2019, fidget fashion is on the rise. (Valerio Mezzanotti/The New York Times)

On the artisanal side, craftier styles with a do-it-yourself bent are on the rise for spring, with designers putting a high-end spin on 1970s-style macramé fringe and rope accessories, all ready-made for fingers to absent-mindedly braid or knot.
Eighteen months ago, Alexandra Connell, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, introduced the online marketplace Patti & Ricky, which bills itself as “fashion for people of all abilities.”

Among the products is a line of “discreet” sliding bead fidget jewelry from Love Dawne aimed at those with ADHD and anxiety who need a beautiful, socially acceptable way to fidget. The jewelry’s aesthetic becomes the focus of attention, rather than the behavior.

“My fidget jewelry helps with my own ADHD and anxiety, and people who compliment it are always surprised to hear it was designed to serve a purpose,” said Connell, 31, who has a master’s degree in disability studies from Columbia University Teachers College and lives in Denver. “Then they want to buy one for themselves, because who isn’t anxious these days? Society is moving toward understanding that fidgets can inspire concentration, focus and brainstorming — but you can’t pull out a fidget spinner in a board meeting.”Amy Serwer, who lives in Manhattan and has two children, recognizes what Connell is talking about. She has two Jennifer Meyer gold-and-diamond initial charm necklaces dedicated to her 10- and 12-year-old daughters, and she wears them together every day. “I’m always fidgeting with these necklaces,” Serwer said. “They help me focus when I’m stressed out, plus they make me feel closer to my kids.”

Retail therapy has a new, more literal, meaning.

Fidget spinners may be so 2017, but their explosive sales revealed, in part, our compulsive need for something (anything) to occupy our hands, calm our nerves and focus our thoughts. Especially when we can’t grab our phones.

Enter Fidget Fashion: the dangling fringe, reversible sequins, jingly charms and sliding jewelry that is suddenly ubiquitous at brands including Paco Rabanne, Altuzarra, Gucci and Loewe.

The pieces are the equivalent of “modern-day worry beads to take your mind off the moment and mentally unwind,” said Ken Downing, the senior vice president and fashion director of Neiman Marcus, who traces the genesis of fidget fashion to the popularity of handbag charms a few years ago.

According to Ingrid Wright, a psychotherapist, “fidgets help reduce anxiety, and can almost be compared to a child’s baby blanket.” Johnson Hartig, the founder and designer of Libertine, a label that sells many embellished pieces, said: “With fashion being so fast and images instantly available there is something to say about a tactile interactive garment — it’s comforting somehow.”