When we talk about high street stores, we immediately think of Topshop, Zara and H&M. For most of us, they're our go-to stores; reliable haunts that we rarely leave empty-handed. The only difficulty with this is that we're all shopping the same stock at the same time, which is less than conducive to a unique looking wardrobe that defines your own personal style, unless you're really good with separates and can mix and match with absolute freshness.
Even with that, it's always nice to respond to a compliment with the name of a store that's utterly unexpected, rather than the predictable "Zara". But really the key is to simply broaden your high street radar, so that pieces from those faithful high street stores we know and love are peppered with other, less identifiable items. I've been doing a little digging and I've discovered some high street gems that are worth adding to your hit list this month.
RIVER ISLAND STUDIO
This is River Island's premium collection of which I have several pieces from past seasons. The quality is great (hence the higher prices) and the pieces trend-driven but with a classic finish. Unfortunately the whole collection is not always stocked in the flagship Grafton street store, but everything can be bought online and returned in store. I absolutely love this leather shirt. What a great way to toughen up a floral skirt or add an edge to wide-leg trousers? This is a piece you'll own and wear for life.
Black leather popper shirt,RI Studio, €160 at River Island
This British brand used to have a large store on Grafton street but it closed down when the recession hit. A couple of years ago, it opened up a small boutique-style shop on South Anne street, in which I bought a gorgeous printed midi skirt last year. It's like nothing else on the high street and I always feel wonderful when I wear it. To me that's what Jigsaw does really well - interesting prints and good quality knits. This floral dress, below, caught my eye when I was browsing Jigsaw's website this morning. It's a beautiful example of dark florals, but I love how it's been styled with these fabulous bright green trousers for a complete contrast.
Romantic floral tiered dress, €340 at Jigsaw
This is a brand that is slowly but surely regaining its former dominance on the high street. It's not quite there yet, but each collection gets better and better. This dress, for instance, is a standout piece that looks so much more expensive than its €55 price tag. It has a hit of Roksanda Ilincic about it.
Slinky gathered waist dress, €55 at Warehouse
I must admit that this French brand has never really been on my radar. Perhaps because there's no stand-alone store in Dublin, only a concession in Brown Thomas. But recently while browsing there, I came across this gorgeous two piece, which I absolutely love. It's a brand worth investigating if you're not familiar with it either. It marries classic French style with a more urban, street vibe which gives rise to pieces that are very wearable but which have a nice point of difference.
Suit jacket €325, and trousers, €199; both Claudie Pierlot at Brown Thomas