Five, key high street pieces for summer

Introducing “The Modernisers” – five, key high street pieces for summer guaranteed to bring your wardrobe bang up to date. Rachel Marie Walsh reports.

Five, key high street pieces for summer

Identifying what’s hot on the catwalks for summer is a cinch. Detailed show reports have been online for months and images of Cara et al in spring/summer’s finest have been filling the glossies since January.

The problem is the high street suddenly seems a veritable minefield of fashion-victim garb that goes with nothing you own. Not to worry, all you need to invest in are five key pieces.

1. Some Summer Suede

Massimo Dutti NYC Limited Edition Suede Skirt, €275

A-line is the skirt silhouette of the season and why not wear it in suede?

The idea may conjure images of Calamity Jane but the 2015 look is far more reminiscent of Julie Christie in Heaven Can Wait. Softer that leather, more luxurious that denim, brushed skins are most prevalent in this season’s Gucci, Derek Lam, Ralph Lauren and Loewe collections.

This new wave of suede pieces is yet another offshoot of fashion’s current preoccupation with the early Seventies. The pliable skin adapts to structured and flowing pieces, making this a trend that suits all shapes.

Like denim, suede is so ubiquitous this season that you can wear it any way you want – trench coats, kimono jackets, boots and bags abound – but the skirt is most fashion-forward.

Suede is expensive to buy and clean but it can also be a classic and versatile addition to your wardrobe.

A skirt or biker jacket in tan suede will see you through the next two seasons, provided you keep an umbrella handy.

The high street offers both real and fake skins. Before you dismiss faux suede as tacky, remember that the material is oh-so Studio 54. Designer Roy Halston often worked with Ultrasuede, a synthetic with suede-like napping, and style icons like Jerry Hall danced the night away in his clothes.

The button-down A-line skirt is more uptown than boho, so avoid pairing it with a peasant blouse or clogs. Style yours with a sheer voile blouse, cashmere sweater and pointed flats.

2. An Haute Hippy Dress

Needle & Thread Tiered Chiffon Maxi Dress, €249.84 @net-a-porter.com

The bohemian-luxe trend has resurged in some form for almost every summer since 2005, when newly-minted “It” girl Sienna Miller was its shearling-vested princess.

With early Seventies influences dominating this season’s collections, this look is more widely available than ever. Peasant blouses, fringing, roomy denims, and particularly boho maxi-dresses were all over the catwalks.

At Chloé, Gucci and Valentino, designers celebrated the haute hippy chick with great lengths of chiffon in block colours or more traditional tie-dye and floral prints.Fine fabrics and embroidery are what make her “luxe” but the effect is always low maintenance.

If you have the height for these dresses, there is one to suit your taste and price range. Think of them as layering pieces and they become a truly versatile item, even a summer wardrobe-staple.

This lemon number by vintage and sequin-lovers Needle & Thread is a pretty choice that takes you from day to evening with a little help from accessories. The neutral colour works well with most of the season’s shrunken jackets and kimono cover-ups.

Style with gladiator sandals (this season’s most chic have a wedge heel and strap up around the calves), a soft-brimmed felt fedora and a suede bucket bag. Swap the tote for a metallic envelope clutch after seven.

3. A Decorative White Shirt

The Kooples Shirt with Geometric Lace, €175

A pristine white shirt is such a wardrobe basic that investing in one of this summer’s decorative button-downs is downright practical. There’s certainly plenty on offer.

The graphic lace on this Kooples shirt picks up on the similarly-detailed versions by Del Pozo, Erdem and Preen by Thornton Bregazza this season.

If lace is too revealing, choose an opaque white and experiment with bowtie necklines (as seen at Dolce and Gabbana), ruffles (Ralph Lauren), or pleats.

Check out Karen Millen and Hoss Intropia for very pretty high-street interpretations.

Maybe it was a reaction to the world’s violent problems or just thoughts of all things nautical, but there were an awful lot of outfits in peaceful, unbroken white on the Spring/Summer catwalks. If pairing this shirt with white skinny pants feels a bit too Liz Hurley, try tucking it into tailored denim trousers, high-waisted pleather shorts or a suede A-line skirt.

A smart or delicate shirt is a great way to upgrade all the denim jackets in stores for summer.

A wide belt (like the one cinching this flouncy Chanel shirt) keeps tails tidy and will still be fashionable next season.

4. Seventies Platforms

Topshop Locket Snake Effect Platforms, €95

Disco-worthy platforms and chunky clogs are an easy way to step into the Seventies trend. At Saint Laurent, Cara Delevigne’s silver sandals looked made for dancing and keeping the hems of one’s bell-bottomed jumpsuit off the floor.

Take a styling cue from Hedi Slimane’s girls and wear yours with sheer black tights for true disco swagger.

Tom Ford’s S&M inspired leather dresses got a similar lift from studded black wedges.

Prada’s take was as weirdly pretty as ever with curved, floral fabric-covered heels. Calvin Klein Collection, usually a bastion of understated good taste, showed stripper-esque clear perspex mules.

Thick platforms look hazardous but actually provide balance that helps you walk in vertiginous heels. A great pair of wedge sandals let you traverse a foreign city in style without picking over cobblestones. They also protect a pedicure better that flatties.

If you really can’t bear joining the 5-inch high club, there were many shoes that looked positively comfortable on the Spring/Summer catwalks.

Valentino’s gladiator sandals and the leather-mesh sliders at Alexander Wang have been interpreted by several high-street design teams.

The pretty block-heeled pumps at Proenza Schouler and Louis Vuitton made tottering in stilettos seem ridiculous (at least for the next few months).

5. A Bucket Bag

Whistles Onslow Bucket Bag, €314

Bag shapes have become very practical and classic of late. Even Louis Vuitton, a brand made famous by statement totes, sent traditional quilted shoulder-bags and box bags down their Spring/Summer catwalk.

Gucci’s “The Jackie Soft” is a structured bucket-bag that accessorises this season’s Seventies-inspired clothes perfectly.

Luxury names like Miu Miu and the Olsen twins’ Elizabeth and James brand, as well as several high-street chains, have produced all manner of variations on the practical style. These roomy drawstring bags are as useful as a backpack but so much prettier.

New York-based leather brand Mansur Gavriel created a sell-out in their bucket tote, a favourite with laid-back stars like Sienna Miller and Kirsten Dunst.

The tan version of this Whistles bucket is very similar. The bucket bag is also set to trend through next season.

A classic colour or print is the best buy if you want to carry yours the rest of the year with but with styles bearing printed numbers, fringe, metallic paillettes and exotic textures trotted out at the shows it is clear that anything goes. As long as it’s bucket-shaped, of course...

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