Forget about a winter and summer wardrobe. Make your closet work for all seasons
Working in fashion forces you to exist in a different mental time zone to the one you actually live in. Though we’re in the middle of March, in the office it’s May. I’m writing for the May issue and commissioning for high summer. Though I’m wearing mohair I’m looking at prairie dresses. This is the time of year when I write a lot about transitional dressing – bridging that gap between your winter clothes and summer closet. But what I’ve realised about my own wardrobe over the past few years is that, really, there is no categorisation of summer and winter pieces. My wardrobe has morphed into one. And as I think about it, there are very few items that I reluctantly put aside in September till June for fear that I’ll freeze. A pair of Zara palazzo pants, perhaps.
Last year I saw an image on Instagram of former contributing Vogue editor-turned-designer Pippa Holt wearing one of her summer kaftans in London … on a blustery dark December day. She had cleverly layered it over a sweater and denims and finished the look beautifully with a pair of Gucci’s iconic open-back, fur-lined loafers. And just like that, she’d transformed her luxury kaftan line into a year-round staple, rather than just an indulgent holiday buy. That’s a much more appealing prospect to savvy shoppers who want bang for their buck. If you’re spending up to €1,000 euro on something, there’s no joy in watching it languish at the back of your wardrobe for nine out of 12 months of the year.
I find the biggest sartorial change I make in spring/summer is footwear. Black leather boots always feel too heavy, too dense, and a little harsh, visually. I like to go for something in suede instead. The texture feels lighter and softer for spring/summer. My burgundy trainers are swapped for white – a pair of white trainers always looks fresh and lessens the formality of a trousers and shirt combination. Of course the open-toe wedge is a summer staple of mine, but many women pull them off in winter with thick or sequin socks. I’m not sure I could though.
Again this year, the SS19 collections reflected this lack of seasonality, which is showing itself in many women’s wardrobes. Max Mara featured trench coats layered over trouser suits, Miu Miu a black leather skirt suit, while shades of toffee and tan – traditionally autumnal hues – appeared from Fendi to Fashion East. Floaty frocks had a presence, certainly, but I, for one, have started to look at them a little differently. Instead of being alienated by spaghetti straps and chiffon skirts, I’m visualising them over T-shirt and leggings, with sturdy flat boots and an oversized sweater in winter, or a black blazer and black block-heel boots for occasions that require something more sophisticated.
Now my brain is racing with fresh plans for those Zara palazzo pants … layered beneath a hooded knitted dress maybe? Or paired with a belted shirt dress? With a little imagination (and my love of layering) I see a whole new world of sartorial possibilities.