Nailing workwear for spring summer
It's finally time to shed the tights in favour of a lighter look, even if the weather doesn't always cooperate
It might not quite be summer, but it's definitely feeling spring-ish outside. Which is delightful at the weekend, but trickier the other five days of the week, should you have an office dress code to follow; wool-mix tailoring, beaming sunshine and hermetically sealed windows do not a good combination make. Which is why, even though we're longing to buy embroidered sundresses and basket bags to carry lemons home from the market in (a thing that no one has done or will ever do, but don't let that stop the fantasy), we're taking a first-things-first approach to spring-cleaning our wardrobes, and starting with workwear.
The most obvious change to make is one to lighter-weight fabrics - but not linen. "Although it looks pristine in the shop, you'll be covered in creases five minutes into the commute to work," says image consultant Isabel Spearman, who worked with Samantha Cameron while her husband was British prime minister. "Go for lightweight crepes and polyester mixes that are more forgiving in the heat, but still look smart."
This season's shift in colour palette strikes the rare but fortuitous balance between stylish and practical. It might seem daunting if you generally live in black or navy, but it can look incredibly polished, not to mention youthful. If your office has a more relaxed dress code, you can break up your suit and wear it as separates.
Drop your hem
The annual shedding of 30 deniers is a controversial affair, and legs that have been hibernating might not be ready for baring. Lucky, then, that this season's essential skirt length falls somewhere between mid calf and ankle, so you're really not showing off any more leg than you would in a cropped trouser. It's A-line, but not so full as to look like you've wandered out of a garden party.
Snazz up shirt stripes
A blue and white striped shirt is not exactly reinventing the wheel, but thanks to statement catwalk versions at Mulberry and Balenciaga, not-so-basic iterations are easy to find on the high street. They look best with white, navy or khaki tailored trousers, or even chinos, which are making a comeback this summer.
Keep feet in check
I'll admit being a champion of a 'fun shoe': they're a great way to bring a bit of interest to an outfit without too many bells and whistles, and update what's already in your wardrobe. Too much print can feel overly loud in an office setting, but since gingham is both graphic and monochrome, I think it fits the bill. Try a stacked heel mule with that long-line skirt, or a kitten heel with tapered trousers.
Swap to suede
A black leather bag might work with everything in winter, but it goes with absolutely nothing (save a black shirtwaister) come summer. Neutral shades of tan and grey are more forgiving against pastels and white, but the main thing here is the switch from leather to less-structured suede. Good for stroking absent-mindedly on your commute, too.