Style for all seasons: Invest in some high-quality items to evolve your wardrobe

Spring-summer 2019 is all about evolving your wardrobe by investing in one or two high-quality items — such as a great day dress and a trench coat — writes Carolyn Moore

Reviewing the spring summer ’19 shows, Grazia magazine made a strange observation. The season, they stated, ‘should come with a credit card warning, as all the key looks we’ve come to know and love will be irrelevant, and new, fresh ideas are set to take their place.’

The implication was that you should be ready to spend, spend, spend; overhauling your wardrobe, if not your entire personal style, to get on trend for the season. It was a suggestion so tone deaf to the realities of how women shop now (not to mention the environmental cost of fast fashion cycles) that it could only have come from a women’s magazine. I browsed their image galleries wondering, quite honestly, if we were looking at entirely different clothing, or if we were just looking at clothing entirely differently?

Where they saw newness, I saw evolution, and I also (gratifyingly) saw my newfound less-is-more approach to shopping begin to pay dividends. All the key investment pieces from the past few seasons are still there — the midi lengths in pleated skirts, and versatile printed dresses, and the oversized tailoring that adds an instant contemporary feel to anything from jeans and a T-shirt to that aforementioned hero midi dress.

The sequined daywear that trickled into last spring’s collections reappears with gusto, as do the earthy brick colours that have looked so appealing for a number of seasons now. Sports luxe is going nowhere, and masculine tailoring gets a feminine edge with hints of lace or an ’80s edge with cycling shorts.

Neon — which so vibrantly punctuated autumn winter ’18 — is back; scarf prints are big; and this season’s florals have a psychedelic edge. Winter’s ubiquitous leopard is just one of a zoo of animal prints this season, often patchworked or mixed; an effect you can achieve by teaming last season’s leopard with a nice vintage scarf.

So with apologies to Grazia (and the fashion industry at large), I won’t be maxing out my credit card to get on trend this season. With one or two key wardrobe additions, savvy shoppers should be able to create a spring wardrobe that works for them. The trick to shopping smart for spring is, as always, to shop your own wardrobe before you part with your hard-earned cash, and figure out what’s carrying forward and what you’re leaving behind. Look at what doesn’t make the cut and ask yourself ‘why?’ If it’s just not your style, use that knowledge to shop better. Some of the more statement trends coming down the tracks won’t be for everyone (I’m looking at you, tie-dye!), so trust your style instinct and know that you don’t have to buy into everything.

So what are the trends to know before you impulse buy something you’ll regret? Well, the spirit of the season could be summed up in two words: elevated basics — what Brown Thomas described in their show notes as ‘a spectrum of newness from glamour to utilitarian.’

Versatility is king, which means a dressier approach to daywear and a pared-back approach to occasionwear; think a great day dress that, with a few accessories, you can as easily wear to the office as to a wedding.

The midi dress remains the hardest-working item you can buy, and if you’ve been resisting the easy appeal of this one-and-done wonder, now is the time to treat yourself. Likewise, don’t keep embellished pieces for special occasions.

Dip into your maximalist stash (I know you have one!) to elevate mannish tailoring, or team a sequined top with cargo pants (Yep, they’re back!). Speaking of which, the utilitarian trend comes into its own in the item of the season: the boiler suit.

If you buy just one thing for spring, make it this all-purpose, surprisingly chic but utterly practical garment. If you want to nail two trends in one, buy it in an earthy tone. From terracotta to brick via sand and biscuit, neutrals are a trend that circles back on a regular basis, so it’s never not a good idea to buy into them, be it in a trench, some wide-leg trousers, or a blazer with the season’s relaxed proportions, in a plain or check fabric.

Every season has trends that feel a little more frivolous, and this season the return of both the ’80s and the ’60s have that slightly novelty feel, but when is the last time you can remember the ’80s not being back in style?

Both decades are revisited with such regularity that even acid wash jeans are beginning to look like a sound investment.

As has always been the case with fashion, what goes around comes back around — eventually. It’s just a matter of perspective.

WHO WEARS THE TROUSERS? It doesn’t matter, as long as the pants in question are highwaisted, baggy, and either cropped or ultra long. Linen blend trousers, €79, stories.com.

ANIMAL MAGNETISM: If you’re over leopard print, fear not - all creatures great and small are getting some skin in the game for spring. Snake print dress by Warehouse, €68, littlewoodsireland.com.

TRENCH WARFARE: The battle is on to update the ultimate utility garment for spring ’19, and Acne Studios’ version in the colour of the season might be the winner. €850, Brown Thomas.

CHECK MATE: Don’t be clueless about how to wear the season’s impactful print; look for oversized tailoring or flowing chiffon midi dresses. Plaid linen blend blazer, €99, stories.com.

YOUR HERO: Want to slay five top spring trends in one go? This Dorothee Schumacher hero dress combines ditzy florals, mixed prints, prairie shaping, embellishment,and neon. €650, Samui.

PUNCHING UP: The neatly-tailored shirt will always be the hardest-working item in your wardrobe, so add a little punch to your workwear with a zesty neon shirt. €89, COS.

CLASS ACT: Elevate a day look or go extra for cocktail hour — embellishment has never been so versatile! Throw this Parosh jacket on with jeans and trainers and see for yourself. €665, Samui.

WING IT: The blouse is back for spring; combine a batwing silhouette with a retro, animal-adjacent print and you’ve got yourself a seasonal must-have. €59.95, Zara.

BOILER ALERT: If one item reigned supreme on the spring catwalks, it was the boiler suit, and the top tip for wearing this is simple: don’t knock it till you’ve tried it! €39.99, H&

PRACTICAL MAGIC: Utilitarian chic has never looked so good! Wear this now over tights and a polo neck and watch it pull double duty as a sundress come summer. €49.95, Zara.

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