STYLE WATCH BY GRACE CAHILL
From the catwalk to your wardrobe… Grace Cahill on the fashion fixes that work in the real world
DESPITE MY YEAR-ROUND AFFECTION for spring/summer clothes, I have question marks over the wearability of certain creative offerings this season. Yes, the mercury has been rising and it’s a little less chilly, but there are few eventualities where I could carry off a crystalembellished PVC mini-skirt via Karl Lagerfeld’s wonderful imagination. The same goes for a shirt-dress dripping in fringe, as imagined by designer Phoebe Philo at Celine.
I find tricky ‘in between’ weeks like this – when it’s warm one minute and cold the next – peak timing for fashion mistakes. This is typically the time of year when I make ridiculous impromptu investments that end up sitting in my wardrobe with the tags intact. The problem, I find, is that the majority of designer trends are translated in every shape or guise on the high street, despite their impracticality in the ever-evolving and demanding wardrobe of a 30-something woman.
We are, remember, contending with runway clothes that look breathtaking on models and trying to work poorer quality variations of them in real life. The struggle has recently steered my interest to less directional, trend-driven labels to fill the gaps in wearability. That’s not to say that I’ll no longer spend hours in Zara or Mango and impulsively spend but the logic is to wait until I’m shopping for something specific: a skirt for the office or an occasion such as a holiday, a wedding or the races.
But where can I find normality in the midst of spring’s sartorial mayhem? The choice is pretty varied but usually the best places to shop for pieces that you’ll get wear out from now until October are COS, Marks & Spencer, and brands like Joseph at Brown Thomas and Preen at Debenhams. These tend to have a much more wearable approach to what spring/summer dressing should look like, especially for everyday eventualities like temperamental Irish weather.
At M&S, statement midi dresses are having a moment – not the ditzy print, dancing in meadow kind that are always reminiscent of spring, more the soft, fluttery chiffon jersey and crepe kind with elongated hemlines that feel free but still sophisticated (pictured above). At COS, new collections are littered with high-waist printed wrap skirts, A-line skirts with gathered panels and more voluminous skirts with pleats. This makes the trousers/tights to bare leg transition breezy, paired with a soft tee or shirt with gathered asymmetric bell sleeves.
If you love the ease of one piece, the store’s tailored cotton and soft jersey jumpsuits are lessons in comfort while at Debenhams, the versatility of Preen’s wrap dresses and midi skirts are proving that you can in fact push a dress from a 9am board meeting into a late night dinner, elevated with statement earrings and heels.
“I FIND TRICKY ‘IN BETWEEN’ WEEKS LIKE THIS PEAK TIMING FOR FASHION MISTAKES”