Three fashion buyers that will help you shop like a pro

Want to dress like a pro this season? Three fashion buyers reveal their strategies to Rachel Marie Walsh. 

hoppers face a dizzying array of ways to update their wardrobes for spring/summer 2016. These experts will help you cut through the clutter and pick out the season’s five, key trend pieces with a clear head.

Emma Anderson, assistant contemporary womenswear buyer at Harvey Nichols

Emma is part of a team that pulls together well-edited, contemporary collections for each of Harvey Nichols’s eight department stores. Her spring 2016 favourites are all easy-to-wear luxury pieces, youthful and romantic.

* Alice and Olivia light-wash denim culottes, €275 

“Culottes instantly update an outfit’s silhouette for spring. The denim culotte is a huge trend for this season. The shape of this high-waisted Alice and Olivia pair, in particular, is really flattering and easy to pull off.

“These look great with so many things in my existing wardrobe — knits, tees, etc, and are so easy to dress up for the evening with a pair of heels, taking them from day to night.”

* Zoe Karssen striped long-sleeve tee, €134

“My spring wardrobe will not be complete without a long-sleeve stripe tee (pictured overleaf). The little heart motif is a cute update.

“Americana (red, white and blue colour-ways) and army/navy were big trends for us for spring/summer 2016. This type of tee is a light-hearted take on this trend and easy for any age or shape to interpret.

“It would be perfect with my J Brand ‘Girlfriend’ jeans, Stan Smith [Adidas shell-toe] trainers and leather jacket for a laid-back weekend look.”

* Vince pink ruffle top, €293

“The next season is all about colour, with pink being the stand-out favourite. A ruffle top is the perfect outfit update. It is a nod to the frill-and-ruffle trend on the spring 2016 runways, contemporary, yet feminine. I would pair this season’s androgynous tailored trousers as a contrast to this delicate piece, adding a pair of loafers as the finishing touch.”

* Finders Keepers white pleated dress, €200

“The shape of the dress (pictured previous page) is really easy for all body types to pull off and the peplum detailing is very flattering. The pleats make it look soft and feminine, which is the Australian brand’s signature style. This dress is perfect for the races and summer parties. Pleating is a huge trend for spring, whether all over in skirts or as detailing on tops and shirts. I will be styling this with some lace up Saint Laurent heels and grabbing a glass of Prosecco!”

* Eileen Fisher black wool gilet, €416

“An Eileen Fisher gilet (right) is the ultimate wardrobe hero for me. This timeless piece can be worn through any season in a multitude of ways, it is the cover-up for every occasion. A black gilet sits outside the realm of seasonal trends, but this would look great paired with this season’s slip dresses and camisoles, which both took centre stage on the runways.

“The gilet can be mixed and matched depending on the weather; for colder days I would layer over a long-sleeve top and a pair of fitted trousers, and for warmer days I would pair it over a lacy camisole and a pair of city-shorts.”

* Joie knit jumper with shirt tails, €335

“We historically sell styles like this very well, they are the perfect transitional piece. The shirt/knit combo implies that layered look without the extra bulkiness or unsightly bumps in the wool. The collarless look of the shirt-detailing updates tops like this for spring/summer 2016. Shirt-tail hems and other shirt detailing were a micro-trend for the season that we saw across a lot of collections. It is a super-wearable trend for all ages. I’d wear this with cropped leather skinnies and my trusty Stan Smiths (again!).”

All items available at Harvey Nichols, Dundrum, and 

Jakki Pay, director of design, womenswear, at House of Fraser

Jakki (far right) heads a 20-strong design team that creates collections for House of Fraser’s eight in-house brands: Linea, Linea Weekend, Biba, Label Lab, Dickins&Jones, Pied a Terre, Therapy and Gray&Willow. They all sell alongside high-street partners, such as Karen Millen and Ted Baker, and each requires about 170 new designs a season.

Thus, it must have been pretty tough to narrow down these five pieces to add to her own wardrobe this month. Her favourite is by Portuguese jeans brand Salsa.

* Salsa denim jumpsuit, €130

 Three fashion buyers that will help you shop like a pro

“I always love a jumpsuit, because they’re so easy to wear, but what I really like about this one (above) in particular is the denim, which is still massively on-trend for spring. It is quite a lightweight chambray, so it feels less masculine than some of the boiler suits that were around for spring/summer 2015. It is a handy piece for the whole season. I’ll buy it this month and stick a skinny roll-neck underneath, add heels and a dark tan or black bag. As the weather warms, I’ll wear it with flat sides. I’d also consider it appropriate for the office, even if jeans are frowned upon in your workplace. This is a more glamorous way to do denim.”

* Linea Weekend peasant maxi-dress, €103

“We have an in-house print designer who worked on this dress (right). The design team looks at all the big international ready-to-wear shows in February and September and then chooses a couple to influence each of our own brands. Roberto Cavalli and Etro worked really well with the Linea Weekend DNA for spring/summer 2016. Both shows featured some amazing maxi-dresses. This peasant-style looks a bit like a beach dress, but is actually very versatile. The product designer that created it styles it with thick tights, biker boots and a leather jacket for early spring. I would be just as happy to team it with flat sandals and a raffia tote for my summer holiday.”

* Biba fringed black suede bucket bag, €176

“The 70s influence isn’t going away, but I wanted to modernise it a bit because it’s important not to be too literal. I like that this is in black rather than tan, but to give a nod to the decade we did it in suede with fringing, which was definitely all over the catwalks for this season. A bag is a simpler way to dip into the trend than trying to make fringe work on the body. We’ve been doing the mini cross-body bag for a while now and it can be very impractical, so the bucket is a nice size. You can get everything you need in it without having to carry a tote too.”

* Dickins & Jones embellished Breton top, €46

“This is a twist on a timeless classic. Season after season, Breton tops are always around. I like the glamour element provided by the sparkle on this one. I think you can get away with sequins during the day as long as they are not too bling-y. This is really quite a subtle and elegant piece that looks great with a blazer and jeans. I’d wear a cropped culotte and heels with it myself. I know culottes are not for everyone, and a skinny jean or 70s flare looks just as good.”

* Linea weekend khaki military pocket skinny jeans, €85

“Flares are all over the catwalks, but they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. I think these trousers (above) are a nice update on my favourite skinnies. I do like the hardware on them, as well as the military influence. Khaki’s going to be a very popular colour for spring, too. I’d wear this with a blanket coat for the contrasting silhouette, and also because you can throw one of those on over a jacket at the beginning of the season, then lighten your layers as it gets warmer.”

All items available at House of Fraser, Dundrum, and

Clodagh Shorten, owner/buyer at Samui, Cork

Clodagh’s Samui celebrates the 15th anniversary of its opening in March. The Drawbridge Street store stocks some 50 luxury fashion and lifestyle brands per season, from big labels like Marni and Moncler to the newest names-to-know. Samui’s owner and head buyer has over three decades of high-end retail experience and a great eye for the most covetable, wearable items in a collection. Her key pieces this season are a mix of classics with a twist and trend-conscious dresses.

* Rick Owens classic leather biker jacket, €1,970

“We are the only Irish Rick Owens stockist outside Dublin and I never have any of his signature jackets left at the end of the season.

“This one (above) is available in both black and a khaki-green shade the designer calls “Palm” for spring 2016. It is cut from blistered lamb’s leather and has a high funnel collar and long, fitted fabric sleeves, both of which are very flattering. The leather just keeps looking better with wear. There are no rules for wearing a Rick Owens biker jacket, it works with any woman’s style. It looks beautiful over cashmere for the weekend and many customers wear it to work over a pencil dress. I’d wear it over a Rick Owens tunic, and wedge-heel boots.”

* Sacai pleated dress with lace overlay, €1,595

 Three fashion buyers that will help you shop like a pro

“I’m really passionate about this Japanese brand (above) which began showing in Paris relatively recently and has been really well received in-store. The designer is called Chitose Abe and her Spring 2016 collection is absolutely amazing. The dresses are a very complex composition of fabrics and textures, but have a softness to them and are easy to wear. The designer manages to combine several details, colours and cuts without making the finished garment look “too much”. I especially like the black lace and slit shoulders. The dresses are not overly revealing and most ages and body types can get away with wearing them. A high neckline and ladylike length are the designer’s signature details, and you could wear this day or night, with heels or flat boots.

* Vivetta Sveva embroidered cotton dress, €540

Vivetta Ponti is a Milan-based designer that does contemporary clothes with romantic embroidery that depicts flowers, swans, faces and hands. The details are quite precious. Vivetta’s designs transcend trends and look great whenever the weather is warm. One of her crisp cotton dresses will be lovely for spring and summer. This one has pockets and a simple A-line cut through the skirt. I have this dress in white and it looks pretty with suede boots early in the season and gladiator sandals later on. Samui is Vivetta’s only Irish stockist.”

* Raquel Allegra tie-dye cotton tee, €340

“This is our first season stocking Raquel Allegra and I really enjoy wearing her clothes. The brand is LA casual-luxury. The designer is famous for her soft jerseys and cashmere knits, which are all done in earthy colours. Distressed details, such as frayed seams and hems are her other signature details, she even uses them on tailored pieces. The distressing is intentionally, artfully done, so it does not further unravel with wash and wear. I am also quite drawn to tie-dyed pieces, which look fresh and cool. The designer’s proportions are generous and flatter most figures. I would style this one with a long cashmere cardigan and jeans or a chiffon skirt.”

* Phillip Lim cascading ruffle tank, €455, and wetsuit-detailed silk pants, €380

“This New York designer’s clothes are also contemporary and the gorgeous embellishments were what originally prompted me to stock them. I love the floral print on this tunic from his spring/summer 2016 collection. It is tank-cut and very comfortable. The striped denim of the ruffle was big on the catwalk for this season.

“This style of trouser is extremely flattering and beautiful in silk. The wetsuit-detailing is a different and edgy take on skinny pants. I would style this outfit with a pair of pointed heels.”


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