The good news in fashion is that there really aren’t any hard and fast rules and dictates anymore. Everything is in fashion, you can wear long, short, tight, flowing, minimal, embellished, in essence, anything you like. That is also, paradoxically, the bad news in fashion. Because total freedom can sometimes translate as total confusion. There are just so many clothes, and with the proliferation of mega stores popping up such as Zara, Topshop, and the soon to arrive H&M and Uniqlo, plus the endless options of on-line, direct to your door shopping, we are being swamped with fashion choices.
Before facing the daunting array of merchandise, it is helpful to bear two things in mind. Firstly, what style suits your body type? Secondly, what occasions do you have coming up that you need a specific outfit for?
This should hopefully minimise the likelihood of finding yourself in a change room, wearing a too short cocktail dress that was inspired from the Louis Vuitton show and is straining across your bust, when what your wardrobe could really profit from is the addition of a crisp white blazer.
Stripes are a perennial, and there are myriad options in store at the moment. Start with a classic, such as a long sleeved, boat necked T -shirt, great with jeans, shorts and skirts. Look for silky shirts with vertical stripes, lovely under a jacket for work, and striped pencil skirts and tops. Stripes look best if they are broken up, not worn head to toe, and they look great against a floral print. Think about a floppy soft pyjama style pant in a coloured print, worn with a striped navy and white T.
In a sea of fluoro brights, and questionable digital prints, it is refreshing to see how headturning a simple white dress can be. A crisp white cotton, or cotton lace tunic dress is the perfect option for an after work party as things heat up. White looks effortlessly stylish, and when accessoried with low key accents such as natural leather sandals and simple silver jewellery has that rich bohemian look that is endlessly chic.
An instant update for every summer season is a new white tailored jacket, in either linen or a cotton linen blend. Break up the boring black working day suit, by swapping the jacket to white, wear it over a shift dress, and think of it as an evening tuxedo option. That, and a good dry cleaner, will be a godsend.
There are more options in dresses than any other item of clothing, so here is where it pays to first clarify the shape you are after, and which would be most flattering. Do you prefer sleeves (find me a woman over 30 who doesn’t), do you have a waist? Would you prefer knee length to thigh high?
Remember that when shopping the high street stores, the cuts are essentially for the slim and the young, so the lengths are often too short. While there seems to be a big move toward skintight, sci-fi cutaway styles at the moment, there are also some beautiful, more discreet options, cotton button through shirts styles and simple tunic shapes at stores such as Scanlan & Theodore, Jac+ Jack and Sportscraft.
Like jeans, there will eventually be a pair that suits you. You just have to try on as many as you can. Whilst an unsuccessful attempt with a pair of too tight white tailored shorts can be enough to send anyone hurtling out of the shopping centre in tears, be persistant. It may take more than a pair of denim cutoffs, unless you’re a Victoria’s Secret Angel. Keep looking. Another pair of fluid cuffed shorts in black or navy silk may prove to be the answer. Add a wedge heeled sandal to elongate your leg, and a light application of self tan, and you’ll feel summer ready in an instant.
Word is that Birkenstocks are back, but I would suggest that only those who resemble a young Ali MacGraw can pull that look off with panache. There’s haute hippy and then there’s just plain orthopedic. But there is definitely a trend towards natural, authentic sandals such as black and brown leather Ancient Greek sandals, simple raw leather thongs, and the always appropriate espadrille. Soludos have a wide selection of espadrilles on line, in a variety of hues, and gorgeous lace up styles in pale blue and white stripes.
Colour is the hot ticket, and there are wonderful and fun costume jewellery interpretations at every price point. A statement necklace, or sparkly earrings are indeed the best Christmas day look changer when you’re pressed for time and moving from place to place. The new rule is to let your jewellery clash rather than match, and there is still a big trend towards “wrist junk” the layering of mixed and favourite bangles, watches, and friendship bracelets on one arm. In rings, look for one very big, very perfect coloured stone.
I’m not Ready to Wear… Playsuits
That’s not to say I don’t like them, those cute all in one short suits. On the right person, they look adorable. But perhaps adorable is the clue here, because that infers the person may closer to a child than a grown up. There can be some unfortunate bagging and riding up in the crotch area of a playsuit. Actually, jumpsuits too, which are close to a catsuit. I would suggest that if the word suit is involved and you are over 25, avoid like the plague.
Kirstie Clements is an ambassador for Sportscraft.