Bairbre Power: Mid-season blues
In the absence of azure skies, look to early fall fashions
'Less is more' is one of my favourite axioms and the new one gaining momentum is the 'see now, buy now' concept around new-season clothing. Unfortunately, we now have to add 'wear now', as autumn weather has arrived two months early.
Feel robbed of your summer? I certainly do. Okay, I was very blessed to have time in the sun in June, which was good for the bones, and the soul. But how freaky last weekend to find myself turning on the central heating and digging out a raincoat and sensible shoes after a seriously awful wetting.
Good lord, the whole Wimbledon and strawberries experience hasn't even finished and I'm already reaching for the dial to turn up the heat. Summer sales bargains are fine if you are building towards a flirtation with the sun later in the year, but for the moment we are craving immediate gratification. We don't just want to read about AW17 clothes: we need autumn-worthy clothes now, and fast.
Fair play to M&S for delivering some delightful pre-fall dresses to our world early. M&S have not had the best of retail results in recent years, but hat tip to the team who devised the strategy of giving us a hint of autumn early, both in terms of fabric weights and appropriate silhouettes, plus accessories in those rich, earthy colour palettes we will be seeing in the new season.
This year M&S introduced their 'Dress Edit' (pictured above right), an exclusive collection of five versatile pieces that are available now in store and online. I was impressed with the addition of interesting sleeves with architectural qualities and the mid-season-style dress, which has been designed to be styled up with a poloneck, if required.
Belinda Earl, the M&S style director, explained their modus operandi to me: "We listened to our customers and we've interpreted the trends in a way that is going to fit and flatter, focusing on some of those key wardrobe staples and updating them to give women their own personal style."
Belinda said they recognise that customers want great fabrics, fit "and pieces that have a versatility that can take them from day through to evening, from formal events to more casual ones, and that can dressed up or dressed down."
With this one ticking all the boxes, I can't wait to see the full AW17 M&S range land into stores. The signs are very positive. Listening is good.
So, where do Best Dressed enthusiasts get ideas and source elements for winning outfits? Speaking to the hopefuls, I'm hugely impressed by the time and effort they put into their looks. It's abundantly clear that winning outfits rarely come about in an 11th-hour dash to the shops. Deirdre Kane's (above) signature retro look of turban, sunglasses and statement lips won her lots of fans at Punchestown and again at the Curragh. She found her hat on etsy.com and her feathered 'neck art' was by Roz Murphy. Suzanne McGarry (below), winner of the Most Stylish Lady prize at the Irish Derby, was inspired by a 1952 wardrobe test by Marilyn Monroe. Suzanne loved the colours so she commissioned bespoke dressmaker Anna McGuire, who works as Ana Mac in Rush, Co Dublin, to interpret the look and swap jacket for cape. Her curving sinamay hat was by Roscommon milliner Laura Hanlon.
Sometimes bare legs just don't work. Check out Falke's Invisible Deluxe 8 tights, which are virtually impossible to discern; €19, Brown Thomas, Arnotts and boutiques nationwide