6 easy ways to take your wardrobe from summer to autumn

Want to make your wardrobe on trend? Here are the six key pieces you need to look the part for A/W16, as chosen by Rachel Marie Walsh.

1. The Cold Shoulder Whistles ‘Elsie’ cold-shoulder V-neck Dress, €235 at www.whistles.com, Brown Thomas and House of Fraser Dundrum.

First popularised by Donna Karan in 1993, when Hillary wore one to her first state dinner as First Lady, dresses with simple shoulder cut-outs were embraced by millennial fashionistas last spring. 

“Cold shoulder” is an easy-to-wear trend that is sticking around for autumn and has even extended to jackets, which looks cool but highly impractical. 

Balmain is a particularly strong proponent of cold-shoulder dresses, expect to see a Kardashian encased in one of the brand’s super-tight, crystal-embellished designs this season, but this trend is more about looking comfortably, subtly sexy. 

Cold shoulder dress Whistles, www.whistles.com €235
Cold shoulder dress Whistles, www.whistles.com €235

Whistles, Edun and Self-Portrait offer flattering v-neck styles for those not on board with the original high collar/naked shoulder combination. 

These are some of the few cut-outs you can wear without worrying your underwear is showing and, as Karan herself told The New York Times, “No matter what your age, your size, your shoulders always look good.”

2. The ‘So Fancy’ Sweater Markus Lupfer ‘Grace’ grey Marl Argyle sequin jumper, €445 at www.markuslupfer.com 

What makes a garment special when so many can be copied and dramatically undersold in a couple of weeks? Zara alone can take a design from someone else’s concept to their own shop floors in as little as a fortnight, according to a 201 TradeGecko.com report. 

Details that are (or at least look) hand-applied — sequins, paillettes, elaborate appliqués — engage the eye and are less easily copied by turnover-hungry manufacturers. 

The Markus Lupfer sequin jumper. Sequins are harder to replicate in high street copies.
The Markus Lupfer sequin jumper. Sequins are harder to replicate in high street copies.

Sparkly pieces for autumn flashed up at Balenciaga, Valentino and Gucci. You really have to fall in love with the one you want, as they dominate any outfit and tend to cost more than plains. 

It is wise to ensure a sequinned top, much like a statement necklace, goes with lots of things you already own.

Fancy sweaters are Markus Lupfer’s forte. The German-born designer does them every season and has an online store filled with soft gems. 

Many are whimsical combinations of crystals, cartoons and prints, but this argyle is a pretty spin-on-a-classic that is unlikely to date.

3. Anything Velvet Pinko ‘Elegant’ Top, €215 at www.pinko.com/en-gb 

Plush of texture and wayward of nap, velvet is a fabric that’s going to be around for the rest of the year and even into next summer, judging by last week’s New York catwalks. 

Velvet dresses remind me of childhood party frocks, I think a strappy top or skinny trouser looks far cooler, but the trend also extends to gloves, bags and shoes if you prefer to accent rather than embrace. 

Pinko’s elegant top has a corded lace trim and ribbon straps that, when paired with a suit, take it from day to evening. 

Citizens of Humanity ‘Rocket’ Skinny Jeans, €260 at Brown Thomas, look pleasingly like the velours pair Kate Moss wore to Tom Ford’s landmark Autumn 1995 show for Gucci. 

Pinko ‘Elegant’ top in velvet and lace.
Pinko ‘Elegant’ top in velvet and lace.

You could dress them up with a silk blouse and stilettos, as she did, but the luxe-casual fusion of this traditionally royal fabric with denim or nylon is more current. 

There were lots of head-to-toe velvet looks on the catwalks for this season but these can appear quite costume-like in real life.

Velvet is prone to piling and even a synthetic fast-fashion version of this fabric needs special care to stay looking good. 

“Dry clean only” definitely means dry clean only. 

If your velvet can be washed at home, hand-wash on the reverse, drying flat and steaming wrinkles keeps it radiant. 

Cushioned hangers are ideal, as folding and wire hangers can leave permanent marks in the pile.

4. A Little Leopard Stella McCartney Mini Falabella leopard-print velvet shoulder bag, €754 at www.net-a-porter.com 

You may, if you enjoy Kate Moss’s ongoing collaboration with the French manufacturing brand Equipment, currently be wearing leopard-printed silk pyjamas in broad daylight. 

And maybe your fellow coffee shop patrons are not so daring, but the similarly-spotted catwalk looks at Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney and Louis Vuitton suggest there’s at least one of your fashion prowl among them. 

They may even be wearing vintage leopard from one of the many other years it was a thing. Observers of this resilient trend often hypothesise that a woman who partakes is making a statement of personality. 

She is channeling Debbie Harry’s edginess; she’s as extroverted as Mel B or even as confident and predatory as the feline itself (surely the reason why The Graduate’s costume designer draped Ann Bancroft in the stuff). 

Stella McCartney Mini Falabella.
Stella McCartney Mini Falabella.

To me this is a dated interpretation, one overlooking the print’s post-millennium adoption by the conservative establishment (quite literally — the Duchess of Cambridge and Theresa May have both been spotted in spots) and the very sensible reasoning behind its camouflage.

Put simply, leopard is an interesting way to wear quite boring colours. Like gingham or Duke of Windsor check, it is a tonal print and very easily coordinated. 

Why pair a brown bag with a brown scarf when either accessory is a fine canvas for spots with (admittedly unethical) luxury connotations? 

The print is not in itself sexy or outrageous any more. Leopard goes with camel coats, Barbours, trenches and virtually every other classic autumn buy. 

It suits all ages and complexions and given that it was introduced in 1947 (by Christian Dior) and we are still buying it, a leopard accessory’s cost-per-wear should work out.

5. The Military-Inspired Coat Tommy Hilfiger X Gigi Hadid ‘Officer’ coat, €399 at selected retailers, www.tommy.com 

Military is another trend that’s always around in some form, from casual khakis to decorative epaulettes. 

This season it is inspiring structured outerwear, with strong emphasis on steampunk jackets, cape coats and double-breasted trenches. It is easy to understand why designers keep reaching for these styles. 

Tommy Hilfiger X Gigi Hadid ‘Officer’ coat, €399.
Tommy Hilfiger X Gigi Hadid ‘Officer’ coat, €399.

They were conceived to suit a range of body types and are comfortable but smart. The trench, in particular, is almost universally flattering. 

Fashion’s current preoccupation with embellishments inspired a lot of bows, tassels and other unconventional additions to their classic lines. 

Dolce and Gabbana covered them in crystals, Gigi Hadid’s collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger this season includes a trench with a nautical patch and brooches, while her cape coat is embroidered with aviator wings.

6. Belle de Jour Topshop Vinyl zip pocket mini skirt, €60

Catherine Deneuve’s character in the 1967 classic Belle de Jour looks contemporary right now because so many of her clothes are on-trend. 

Mini-dresses with shirt cuffs and pointed collars? See Burberry, Gucci and Saint Laurent. Boxy jackets with matching mini-skirts? 

As seen at Moschino, Alice and Olivia, and Isabel Marant. Even Séverine’s low heels, with their square-buckled toes, look pretty Prada. 

The most challenging but undeniably glamorous reference is vinyl, which emerged as autumn’s glossy leather alternative at Dior, Chanel and Marc Jacobs. 

Top Shop Vinyl Skirt.
Top Shop Vinyl Skirt.

Fashion-forward Gisele and Alexa Chung have already done vinyl trousers on Instagram, pairing them with rock-chick t-shirts or cashmere sweaters. 

Topshop’s mini skirt is an easy way to get the look. It is made of cotton coated in polyurethane, so easily maintained.

More proof that the Nineties are back: Clueless and Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion offer multiple examples of how to make wipe-off material look cute. As with the velvet revival, this trend is all about the contrast of extremes. 

Natural fabrics in bubblegum pink or purple (both hot colours this season) soften the relatively aggressive look of liquid black. Rodarte made it playful with touches of colourful faux-fur.

The way it was styled on the runway is also inspiring. At Chanel, vinyl skirts were paired with thick belts to create the long-waisted silhouette of the season. 

For a quintessentially Parisian vinyl trench, check out local designer Johanna Senyk, whose rainwear label Wanda Nylon (www.farfetch.com www.wandanylon.fr) is plastic-fantastic.


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