Creating your own personal style involves finding a point of difference between how you dress and how other women do. Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood has done this by embracing her own very signature brand of eclecticism, Kate Moss by sticking to her skinnies regardless of what the denim police say is the latest cut to take the catwalks by storm, and Karl Lagerfeld has created a kind of man-in-black caricature for himself from which he refuses to stray.
Lagerfeld is clever because he's taken what can be the most generic of colours, or neutrals, and imbued it with his own personality. It can be tricky not to blend into the background when wearing head-to-toe black, but Lagerfeld has avoided this caveat by sticking doggedly to his look and taking complete ownership of it. He never looks generic. He always looks like Lagerfeld.
Unfortunately, black - considered a safe, reliable, can't-go-wrong colour - has been used by women, in wintertime especially, as a kind of opt-out option. Throw on a black coat and black shoes and you're good to go. Not really, though, unless the coat has a beautiful silhouette and enough detailing (be that visible stitching, standout buttons, interesting lapels and cuffs) to differentiate it from the hordes of other black coats on the high streets in winter. Similarly with that old reliable LBD. If it doesn't have a unique element, it will veer very quickly into stale and ordinary territory.
In summer, Irish women tend to be in too much of a hurry to abandon black. However I think looking at how you can incorporate black into your late summer wardrobe is an easy way to add a point of difference to your own look. I'm not suggesting for a minute you wear it head to toe, but as those around you rush to pull on their printed or pastel rigouts, a strategic approach to wearing black in summer can offer a more distinct approach to dressing for August.
Here are several black pieces I'll be buying into for spring/summer.
A black leather jacket is one of the first pieces we put to the back of our wardrobes at this time of year, but it's the perfect punctuation to this month's florals and fluid fabrics. It anchors a look, and this Uterque piece is particularly good because of the peplum hem. It adds a softness and femininity perfect for August.
Leather jacket with peplum hem, €399 at uterque.com
Black lace can often look too funereal, but Zara has got it just right with this piece by keeping the silhouette dead simple. Keep the look fresh for summer by pairing it with something nautical.
Lace T-shirt, €15.95 at Zara
Forget about florals and stripes, this, for me, is the quintessential summer dress. It's so effortlessly chic, and it also has that point of difference from other LBDs in the form of a Guipure lace cape collar.
Tricolour dress, €137.50 (was €275) at Maje
I love this very cute black top from Cos. The simple straight cut provides the perfect contrast to all the floaty, feminine hemlines that abound that abound this time of year. To me, this top will look really fresh right now because of its non-traditional summer style.
Cotton silk top, €79 at Cos