Like many women, my summer wardrobe is my winter wardrobe minus tights and boots, no ? This stems from the unwritten rule I’ve been (trying) to live by these last few years after acquiring adult responsibilities like utility bills and road tax by which I tend to buy less but spend a bit more.
5-7 years ago, I preferred choice over quality, favouring a multitude of throwaway vest tops and directional style clothing that I’d be bored of 3 weeks after purchasing. Looking back, I think I was just experimenting a kind of process of elimination strategy to find a style that suited me, though it was costly and wasteful.
I’m much more mindful and considerate when buying clothing for myself. In some ways I've zapped the fun out of shopping spontaneously, rarely do I venture into a store and buy what the 5ft 10, slender mannequin is wearing. Though this has done mini wonders for my wallet !
My summer wardrobe is probably made up of 70% staples consisting of good quality, light-weight jersey, cotton and linen pieces in muted colours grey, white, blush, nude, black and more recently navy. With the exception of a classic stripe, I very rarely wear print.
When buying what I like to call, ‘super basics’ I consider how a piece will fit with the rest of the clothing in my wardrobe, the same way a visual merchandiser would do when creating a story in a retail space. I try and picture at least 3 different outfits using the piece that are all versatile for different occasions.
If I’m looking for an outfit for a particular event, like a wedding or special birthday, I turn to Pinterest or work my way back-through a stack of my favourite magazines, where I may have come across an interview with a designer. Oh Comely, Kinfolk and Cereal are all excellent publications for showcasing emerging brands. Finally, if I still can’t find what I’m looking for, I’ll trawl through Etsy listings for vintage items that fit my search description. Ideally, I try to purchase vintage clothing a size or two bigger than my usual clothing size to allow for alterations. It’s always better to have excess fabric to work with than not.
And - most importantly - the fit. I’ve come to learn through trial and mostly error that fit is so, so important. Now, given I don’t have the physical statistics of catwalk model and my job isn’t to be clothes horse, the clothing I choose to wear needs to work with my shape. On the plus side, I’m an average height of 5ft 6, I have good set of square, sculptured shoulders, small waist and a decent leg length, all areas I like to enhance. My not so favoured parts, muscular calves, thicker thighs, sizeable bust and rounded lower stomach are areas I prefer to conceal.
Working with my ‘best bits’ and investing in good quality fabrics, means I’m building a season-less wardrobe, that is efficient, functioning and rarely leaves me in a situation of being stuck for what to wear. Every single piece in my wardrobe makes me feel good, comfortable and confident and will continue to do so for years to come.
Below are a few personal tips and tricks I've picked up over the years, should you be looking for some inspiration for your summer style. Any questions or comments, pop them in the comment box below or drop me an email at email@example.com
My Summer Looks
Look 1. Navy Chore Jacket. Toast.
I love this navy chore jacket for its soft, unstructured look. The relaxed style of this workwear jacket means it is great for layering, as long as the pieces underneath are slim fitting. I like to contrast different blues with my light-wash denim pinafore dress also from Toast or my best fitting indigo denim, tapered MOM jeans from Topshop. The slouchy shoulders work really well with a small collared shirt usually in off-white or a slim fitting breton tee, that sits just below my collar bone (rule number 1 for minimising bigger busts).
I’m always on the look-out for pieces that appear more expensive than what they are the shopping on the high street. H&M Premium and Topshop Boutique are worth paying that little bit extra for when it comes to buying wardrobe staples for the better quality fabrics. I tend to opt for knitted cami’s with a slight V neck and in the next size up so that appear looser around my bust, ensuring they look elegant and not too revealing. This also gives me the option of wearing a fine-fabric t-shirt underneath if I want to create a more layered, casual look. I like to wear little tops like this with high-cut trousers or skirt, in crepe or linen and often with a paper-bag waist. My favourite are a mauve linen pair from Hungarian brand, Aeron. Pairing these two garments together gives me an hourglass shape and elongates my legs without having to go through the pain of heels!
Look 3. Culottes, COS.
Perhaps the most veritable item in my wardrobe! I’m very fussy about the length of midi-trousers ensuring they fall just below the protruding muscle of my calves and show off the slender point of my ankles. In fact when I think about it, the majority of the straighter fit trousers in my wardrobe are purposely turned up to finish an inch above my ankle, so the fabric appears fuller and my ankle slimmer ! Even though these AW15 COS culottes are made from wool, worn without tights and paired with my black ATP Atelier sliders and mustard COS (AW14) cowl neck (daytime) or A line top or simple 100% silk cami (evening time), they are still suitable for warmer weather.
Look 4. Vintage PALM TREE Print V Neck Jumpsuit. Etsy.
A one-of-a-kind buy I’m saving for my summer holidays and wedding I have later in August. The casual fabric (100% cotton) allows for this jumpsuit to be versatile for day and night wear. I’ll be pairing this with my grey ATP Atelier sliders for strolls along the cobbled streets of Porto and digging out of red + birch wood clumpy COS heels (SS15) for a 70’s inspired look. The double V at the front and back of the garment and wide leg are flattering for my shape.
Look 5. Nude Silk Shirt Dress, Kelly Love.
This dress I didn’t technically buy for myself. My dear husband listened to my continuous subtle hints about this incredible dress I’d spotted on Kelly’s Instagram. I love the luxurious fabric of the 100% silk dress that looks amazing worn with an oversize knitted scarf and all white sneakers in the winter ! This summer I can’t wait to wear it with some off-white rope sandals I’ve got my eye on from COS and will be accessing with a statement, marble-inspired necklace by Blokk Design.
Look 6. Grey Shoes. H&M, COS, ATP Atelier.
I tend to wear more grey shoes than any other colour because they are such a veritable colour. I own about 3 or 4 pairs of navy trousers and they don’t work with black. I usually opt for grey suede as I like that worn it look it achieves so quickly. Suede is also the comfiest material in the world ! This summer I’ll be mostly wearing these 3 pairs of grey shoes, flats, midis and semi-high heels (I can’t walk in anything that doesn’t have a sturdy block heel plus skinny stilettos do nothing for my calves), they're the perfect solution for holidays too as they take up such little room in your suitcase !