As the weather chills and the social calendar heats up, Stephanie Smith picks out six key pieces needed to survive the pre-festive season.
Winter brings with it a daunting new set of diary demands as the social calendar fills with those parties and catch-ups, work events and weekend get-togethers that punctuate the run-up the Christmas.
Dashing from one engagement to another, or from the office to the bar and bistro, becomes the norm, often with little time to get home and change in-between. Plus it’s chilly out, so we need to be able to do all that dashing with at least some degree of sense and sensibility to the weather conditions. We need clothes that multi-function and work well with the rest of our wardrobe, from weekend wear to party togs. Here’s my pick of perfect pieces to survive the winter:
The jumpsuit: If there is an item of clothing that translates so effectively from desk to dinner, I’ve yet to find it. Choose slim-leg or wide (choose both, I say) and wear with trainers and knits for weekends, and then style up as extravagantly or as subtly as you like for parties and evening events. A black jersey or washable crepe jumpsuit will always work (and is a brilliant LBD alternative), but for this winter, a rich and deep red, like the one featured here from Oliver Bonas, will be your essential go-to for pretty much everywhere you find yourself throughout the season.
The feature print shirt: Wearing your art is a creative theme for this winter and one that works well in the run-up to the festive season, when thoughts of annual catch-up lunches and dinners suggest a focus on the top half of the body. Look out for printed silk, viscose, devore and velvet fabrics, with feature prints including paisleys and moody luscious florals, landscapes and sophisticated geometrics. Team with black or a neutral tones such as camel for an easy statement look, but don’t be afraid to try mixing prints, as the overall effect can be striking (as long as you get it right).
Wide-leg trousers: The trousers of the season are wide-leg, preferably checked and probably cropped, although long is more than acceptable. Choose an elegantly tailored style, like the ones featured here from John Lewis & Partners in Prince of Wales check, if you want to be able to wear them for work with mannish flats or ankle boots or smart trainers, and then add heels and a sheeny or sparkle top for evening. Or a tailored white shirt accessorised with statement jewellery. If you want to wear a wide top with wide-legs, make sure you have got the proportions right, especially if you are not tall – too long a top and the balance won’t work, so you will simply look like a tiered triangle (the same applies to A-line midi skirts).
The big cardigan: Many of us (perhaps far too many of us) live in long cardigans over the winter, so it’s important to find at least one that works with everything and always looks elegant in a modern kind of way. Quality is key. Choose ones in luxe cashmere or wool blends that feel soft and cosy – there’s nothing worse than an itchy knit – but will withstand constant wear. Take care if you always hitch up the sleeves as cheaper knits lose their shape instantly. A chunky longline cardigan, nipped in at the waist with a leather belt, is perfect to throw on over your party dress.
The yoke sweater: The beauty of having a sweater with a feature yoke is that it throws the focus on the shoulders, providing balance to the hips in much the same way that off-the-shoulder tops do. Except jumpers keep those shoulders cosy. This season, wear with jeans and tweed slim-leg crops or tailored wide-leg culottes.
The fluid midi skirt: Look for a soft and silky or pleated skirt to pair with oversized and yoke sweaters, tailored blazers, this season’s slogan tees and all coats. Add pointy ankle boots and a blouson animal print sweater for an 80s’ vibe.