Darren Kennedy: Style dilemma
Q: My boyfriend and I are taking a week's break in the Canaries. We don't live together and it's our first time going away on holiday, so I'm a little nervous. I want to be really organised and have all my outfits planned in advance. Obviously, I want to look well by the pool. All my swimwear was bought nearly two years ago, so I’m just wondering what's in at the moment.
Niamh, 31, Dublin.
A: You'll certainly not be left wanting in the swimwear department this season. Heatons currently has a great range of purse-friendly bikini looks. One of my favourites has to be this retro-style, navy polka-dot two-piece — it's a bargain at €10. Gingham always looks great, and the Kelly Brook collection at New Look includes a striking pink-gingham bikini top and bottoms (€18.99 and ¤12.99 respectively). If, like most of us, your body has been completely hidden from any sunshine all winter, navy is a great choice as it looks good on even the palest of skin. For something a little more flirty, Heatons has a frilly pattern bandeau bikini (€12 two-piece) that’s perfect for creating a cute, playful poolside look.
When it comes to sheer elegance, the new range of cupped swimwear by Huit does not disappoint. I particularly like the Alice en Goguette triangle bikini and bandeau brief set (top €41, brief €48, Cupcakes Lingerie).
Keep an eye out also for Pepe Jeans, which has a collection of rather funky, patterned halterneck bikinis that wouldn't look out of place on the beaches of Rio.
QHi Darren, I'm looking to buy some new boots — highheeled and preferably black. I have quite skinny legs, so most boots I try on are usually swimming around my calves and it looks awful. Would you have any suggestions for where I could find boots for skinny calves? Thanks for any help.
Sarah Jane, 27, Galway
AAs is the case with most garments on the high street, footwear sizes tend to be based on the lowest common denominator. As a result, finding boots that are the perfect fit is not always straightforward. That's not to say you won't find boots that fit thin calves on the high street, it just means it may be more a case of trial and error to find the specific fit you are after. First off, I'd recommend avoiding synthetic fabrics and opt for leather if you can. Even if they are slightly loose fitting, quality leather means they shouldn't sag or flop around your leg.
Of course, you always have the option of using a tailor to adjust the calf size for you. Aldo, Zara and Dune are definitely worth checking out as they are generally on the smaller-fitting side. Boots with laces or buckle ties, such as the Doiley boot (€134.58, Aldo), can be tightened to fit. If your budget permits, I'd recommend investing in some carefully crafted leather boots with good-quality tailoring. Online sites such as www.duoboots.com and www.hennyjames.co.uk stock a great selection of styles that are available in different calf sizes, from 30-50cm (30cm is a lot smaller than the average calf size of high-street boots). They also provide a guide on how to accurately measure your legs for the perfect fit.
Ankle boots are always a good option for summer, and if you can afford to splurge then how about these Alexander McQueen studded boots (€820, Harvey Nichols)? Luscious!
Q: I'm going to an afternoon wedding at the beginning of May. I've already bought my dress, which is a light stone colour. I'm quite happy with it. I'm slightly worried, however, that it might be too plain for an occasion such as a wedding. My sister says I could dress it with a bit of colour in a coat, but shopping is not my strong point and I haven’t a clue where to look for one that might be suitable yet warm. Please help!
Rita, 44, Mayo
A: Wearing a neutral-coloured dress and introducing pops of colour to an outfit through accessories allows you to create many different looks from the one piece. In this case, I think your sister is right; a vibrant-coloured coat will work wonders while keeping you warm and dry, should the weather play up.
The colour(s) you go for depend on how much of a statement you want to make. For instance, the Svea pattern coat (€99.95, Carraig Donn) will introduce several colours that you can pick up in other accessories, such as your shoes, bag or jewellery.
Alternatively, you could opt for one bold block colour, such as the canary-yellow trench by Aquascutum (€600, Arnotts). If you find yellow too overbearing, then green might work. Young Irish-designed label Daisy May has a wonderful applegreen coat with a subtle 1960s vibe (€165, Clerys). All prices correct at time of going to press