Spring style reality check
Forget the catwalk, do this season's hot trends actually work in real life
Now, I know a lot of readers might believe I’m hopelessly jaded when it comes to fashion because I am often critical, but I still fall in love with outfits and models every season.
Last autumn, during the spring/summer catwalk collections, I sat open-mouthed when I saw model Joan Smalls in a powder-blue, sheer lace midi-dress at the Dolce & Gabbana show. Suddenly, my all-black ensemble seemed hopelessly wintry and dowdy (remember, it takes six months before these summery clothes appear in the shops).
I loved the Erdem collection of pretty, head-to-toe florals, and the sheer shift with appliqued flowers by Christopher Kane. How pretty, how fresh, I swooned. The sporty dresses at Stella McCartney and orange track pants at Isabel Marant made me vow to dress more stylishly at weekends and to start running again.
LEFT: Pretty pastels, Liz wears blue lace dress, 240, jaeger.co.uk. Blazer, 189, reiss.co.uk. Blue suede bow shoes, 130, piedaterre.com
RIGHT: Crazy prints, Floral-print shirt, 39.50, and matching trousers, 45, marksandspencer.com. Floral bow sandals, 120, Carvela at kurtgeiger.com
Emerging from Alberta Ferretti in Milan, I vowed to wear only a slouchy olive shirt over a knee-length brown silk skirt and strappy brown flats for the rest of my days.
After the Bottega Veneta show, I yearned for an embroidered tribal dress costing 2,000. And — oooh! — how I drooled over a pair of khaki shorts by Daks, even though I knew full well that a) I can’t afford them, and b) I have cellulite.
And so I thought I would give four of the key trends for spring/summer a rigorous reality check. Do the clothes work for a date, a long plane journey, a work meeting and yet another date (what can I say I’m on a roll) when worn by a real woman (i.e. me) who is not 16 years old or 6ft tall
While my BMI is pretty low, being thin doesn’t mean you necessarily want various (or any) body parts on show — you can still be slim and hate your hips, for example.
Finally, is there any way you can cherry-pick from the trends and still be employable, not bankrupt and able to step outside your front door without feeling you are in costume
For a dinner in a swanky Italian restaurant, I wear what will be a huge spring/summer trend: pastels.
Many designers, including Jonathan Saunders, Louis Vuitton and the hugely influential Prada, sent sugary collections down the runway.
What I really need, I remember thinking to myself at the DVF show in New York, is a powder-blue duster coat and a packet of Love Hearts.
For my date, I struggle into a powder-blue lace dress from Boutique by Jaeger, a label I normally love.
But, disappointingly, I have to wrestle myself into a frankly flimsy dress (note to designers: please make sleeve holes wide enough and zips long enough to avoid ripping seams and messing up hair and make-up) that lacked structure over the bust and was way too short.
On the catwalk: From left, Yves Saint Laurent do pastels, Issa feature flapper dresses while Prada showcase crazy prints
I quite like the slouchy blazer by Reiss, but at 189 it should be lined.
The Pied-a-Terre shoes are comfy, but far too twee and ladylike for me. Outfit on, I feel about 100 years old.
My date’s verdict just about sums up this look: ‘You look as though you have just been to a really boring wedding.’
How to wear this trend, should you be insane enough to try it Wear a pastel jacket over jeans, or a black dress.
Do not, EVER, go all matchy-matchy. You are not the Queen.
Weren’t crazy prints in fashion last autumn, too
Didn’t I turn up at Number 10 wearing pink polka-dot shoes I hated this trend then, and I hate it now.
While the Erdem models looked like exquisite English roses as they paraded their pretty prints in an idyllic London garden square, when I am squeezed into head-to-toe crazy print, courtesy of Marks & Spencer, I feel ridiculous.
The shoes, by the young woman’s label of choice, Carvela, are of course high (this is one trend that is never going away), but the floppy bow and riot of clashing colours make me feel curiously clown-like.
I imagine if you are very tall and a teenager, you might just about pull off the printed trousers, as long as they are tucked into wellies, worn with no make-up and poker-straight hair.
If, like me, you wear this outfit to a work lunch, you’ll probably be fired for being far too frivolous.
For my second date at a hotel bar, I road-test the Art Deco trend. While I fell in love with a silver beaded column at Ralph Lauren with matching Daisy Buchanan spangled skull cap, in reality, this look feels far too young — and exposing.
This embellished Biba dress, at 225, is not cheap, and it definitely doesn’t match up to the price tag: too short, with no internal structure and I keep shedding beads — never a good sign.
LEFT: Twenties chic, Liz wears embellished flapper dress, 225, Biba at houseoffraser.co.uk. Silver sandals, 135, dune.co.uk. Evening bag, 175, lkbennett.com
RIGHT: Smart safari, shirt, 29.50, marksandspencer.com. Chocolate brown suede skirt, 350, generalleather.co.uk. Clutch, 30, oasis-stores.com. Shoe-boots, 110, clarks.co.uk
While this trend triumphed on the catwalk, worn by women with no breasts, I think this is the one look that won’t really take off on the High Street: it feels too much like costume.
Anything cream and long feels too bride-like, too, which is never a good look if you are over 50. But if you are 22 and leggy and team a flapper dress with platforms and attitude, I guess it will look ok.
My date actually laughs, saying: ‘It does your bony chest and upper arms no favours.’ We are still not speaking.
More from Liz Jones…
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I’ve lost count of how many times this trend has been resurrected since it first appeared on the Yves Saint Laurent catwalk in 1968. Safari might be old hat, but it is, thank goodness, eminently wearable.
I head to the High Street for my look. While I’m addicted to Equipment silk shirts, which are mannish, slouchy and expensive, this Marks & Spencer shirt is really well made, and could be worn with anything. The skirt I find a little rigid and a bit short.
And while I’m not a fan of snake-print, Mary Portas or Clarks, these Mary Portas for Clarks shoe-boots are surprisingly comfy and make my calves look thin.
The key to wearing safari is not to do so head-to-toe, i.e. by adding a floppy hat with corks and a leopard-print bag.
For the aforementioned plane journey, I change into a pair of Maharishi combats, bought in 1998 and still going strong.
I’d sex up the shirt by knotting it and teaming with a brown tulip silk skirt in chocolate brown by Gucci and my very high Bottega nut-brown wedding sandals.
This is the one trend I will be channelling this summer, knowing it will see me into autumn and probably into the next decade, too.