Colour is at the heart of really great summer dressing. Tomato, citrus, sky blue and grass green – they’re all the hues of hot weather and an outdoors lifestyle. This year there’s an entire colour wheel to choose from regardless of whether you’re lazing on the beach or working up a sweat in the gym.
It’s the move towards colour in the gym and the yoga studio over the last couple of years that has really made a difference to the health club landscape. Brands including Wellicious and Casall have really put a zing and a pop into our exercise wardrobes. Casall, the Scandi activewear giant, has gone as far as to create a highlighter yellow for layering under black or simply as the zingiest colour out there. It’s a techie shade for women who love their urban workouts and want to push the hot neon trend.
Wellicious has also gone bright but has selected the tropical shades that suit their delicious jersey fabrics. Pops of hot pink and yellow sits beautifully beside their soft and flattering Dove Blue – a gentle, dusky shade that suits every skin tone. The great thing about this collection is its crossover ability to partner jeans and skirts so a Wellicious top with a built-in bra can be just as brilliant at the weekend as it is in the Pilates studio.
Striders Edge has given Lovestretch a whole new dimension when it comes to premium gym kit. The British brand has spent the last couple of years perfecting its technical activewear. Colour features throughout with hot turquoise blue and summer coral a fabulous start to building a brand new exercise look.
Whether you favour softer hues or want to make a statement with eye-popping brights, there has never been a better time to try out colourful dressing.
Printed Cotton Scarf, American Vintage, £58.00
There’s never a time when I’m not wrapped up in a scarf. In the winter the fabrics are cosy, in the summer they’re fine and floaty. I’m not alone. In the last two years we’ve become a nation of scarf wearers again with weekend scarves becoming the hottest accessory as handbags have retreated from centre stage. Gwyneth Paltrow, Miley Cyrus and Gisele Bündchen are a few of the scarf’s celebrity fans rarely seen without theirs, and let’s not forget the Duchess of Cambridge who has perfected her own fully accessorized look over the past two years.
Luscious patterns and prints have become the best way to add a dash of colour and detail to a simple look. Picture the plainest tee and then wrap a coordinating scarf around its neckline – it’s as easy as that. Codello has a stupendous range of prints in a variety of fabrics. The European accessories powerhouse has developed a range of designs that manage to combine a multitude of colours without overwhelming the wearer. Pastels and neons are mixed masterfully to create some of the most exciting prints out there.
Interestingly, we’ve also become much better at sampling different fabrics. Asquith sells plain and simple bamboo and organic cotton wraps that are deliciously big and comforting for post-yoga and ideal as a travel companion. American Vintage, too, excels at creating plain jersey wraps that are soft and versatile for whole-year use. EMU Australia, more famous for its gorgeous sheepskin boots, has produced its own very lovely, super-fine merino wool scarves which can work as beach cover-ups or as delicious pieces for pairing with a summer dress or jeans.
From one scarf fan to anyone out there who ‘fesses to being one too, this really is the season to stock up on this versatile, go-anywhere accessory.
It’s one of those modern marvels – supportive lingerie that looks as good as it feels. We now have a generation of shapewear that doesn’t make you to wince with discomfort every time you smooth away your extra inches. What’s more, the colours and detailing are far from looking either overly frilly or too functional – as in way too much architecture and not enough recognition that you may actually be seen in your not-so-skimpies!
Control lingerie has developed at a huge pace in the last few years. Construction and fabrics have been honed to ensure that the look isn’t compromised by the serious job in hand. One of the companies at the forefront of this revolution is the American company Yummie Tummie.
The founder, Heather Thomson – a ‘designer, celebrity stylist, entrepreneur, mom, and Real Housewife of New York’ comes at the collection from all those perspectives. She says, ‘Yummie Tummie is the first body shaper garment that is top oriented and designed to be worn each and every day as a foundation or layering piece. The effects of Yummie Tummie are dramatic for the wearer, both physically and mentally. Yummie Tummie will give you a boost of confidence! It is extra long in the body so it provides coverage as you bend and move’.
Inspired by Heather’s tips, we’ve pulled together a few reasons to try out Yummie Tummie:
Banish Muffin Top with Shaping Stretch Briefs
Smooth away the join where your low-shaped jeans meet your soft curves. These briefs will leave a seamless foundation for a layering pieces that sit over your trousers.
Smooth your line beneath a fitted dress with Lace Trimmed Slip
An unforgiving dress can be a challenge at any time. This gorgeous piece gives a long slender look for jersey dresses or an evening dress which calls for a sleek foundation.
Show off your beautiful shapewear with Lace Trimmed Stretch Cami
We love curves and we love the fact that this shapewear is fabulous enough to be worn out in public! The Lace Trimmed Cami looks great peaking from behind the lapels of a tailored jacket – a key piece for Autumn so this is one to invest in.
As a journalist I travel the world in search of stories and one of the embarrassments of visiting in some parts is their need for you to take off your shoes before entering a family home. Tights with holes or unscrubbed feet are two of the pitfalls I’m always dodging, as are the homely but unbecoming slippers I’m sometimes offered at the door. The answer, obviously, is to take your own indoor shoes and slip them on unasked. Indeed, the question of what constitutes a decent pair for the job of padding around the home is just as valid here as abroad: shoes shaped like a gentleman’s slippers are actually fashionable right now but schlepping around with a pair for these moments is impractical.
The answer, I’ve discovered, is Butterfly Twists – fold-away ballet pumps which combine all the portability and sleek elegance that impresses my international hostesses. As everyday outdoor shoes for women in the perpetual search for flat and flattering shoes as a stand-in for the highest heels, they’re a dream. Light and colourful, they’re also the thing to whip out on a plane in lieu of the throwaway ones offered by airlines. I have become addicted and their relative cheapness means I’m fast building an impressive collection. Whether you’re visiting a home or a hotel, these are a must-pack in my book.
Yoga and Pilates vests and circle scarf, all by Wellicious
Summer has to end and the whole thing is made so much easier but the thought that the shops are starting to fill with the rich, luxurious colours of autumn. Over the last few years, yoga and Pilates clothes have become seasonal in the same way and there are few companies as adept at making sure fashionistas look their best in the studio as Wellicious. This London-based company is no less serious about yoga and Pilates but it always manages to produce a collection which reflects beautifully the turn of the seasons.
Headed by its Founder and Creative Director, Heike Schnell, each seasonal collection is designed and developed by the very experienced and highly skilled design team at Wellicious. Each and every detail carefully evolves to create an eco-friendly yet stylish and glamorous collection infused with the latest fashion and colour trends. Since its launch in 2007, celebrity fans of the luxurious yoga, Pilates and loungewear have included singer and actress Dannii Minogue and top model Erin O’Connor. More significantly, many star yoga teachers such as Tara Lee, Katy Appleton and Gabriela Bozic advocate the brand for its comfort and quality.
Sustainability is a core issue for Wellicious and it uses only carefully sourced fabrics such as Organic Cotton, Lyocell and Tencel. Rain-fed Organic Cotton ensures less water is used for its growth than for regular cotton. Tencel and Lyocell are soft, lightweight breathable, shrink-resistant and durable materials created from natural cellulose found in wood pulp. They are also biodegradable.
For 2012, deep and luxurious colours such as merlot are blended with muted highlights for a flattering yet modern take on the classic yoga vest and leggings combo. Stand-out pieces include a ruched vest which borrows the sweetheart neckline and seaming from an evening dress to make a top that properly supports the figure throughout practice. Leggings get yet another Wellicious makeover with fabulous jodhpur styling added to the classic fold-over Wellicious stirrup pants.
A fistful of bright jewels can turn the most grown-up of women into a little girl all over again. The excitement and fashion drama of glorious cocktail rings and bracelet working in tandem on our wrists and fingers is second to none when you’re clutching the stem of a crystal flute filled with bubbles. This may sound over the top but great jewellery guarantees attention and serves as a great ice-breaker at a summer cocktail party.
Aussie jewellery king Peter Lang excels at creating piece for celebrities who need their accessories to go that extra metre. For 2012, the collection includes a series of sumptuous turquoise pieces that come with contrasting coral detail and crystal highlights. A Peter Lang cocktail ring will guarantee extra shine when it comes to working a party manicure that little bit harder.
White Cotton Tank Dress, £99, by Lounge Lover
This time of year is pretty well impossible to dress for when the weather can’t decide which direction it’s going in. The calendar says June, says early summer, says warmth and fresh, bright colours. The British weather says umbrellas, anoraks, don’t mothball the winter woollies – EVER! It goes against the grain to dress unseasonably when the longest day has just past and the bulbs are out. Equally, the wind can bite right through summer cotton. The answer, I’ve come to the conclusion, is to go for white.
You can always wrap up in a white cardigan without looking over-padded and pull on a fabulous pair of white jeans knowing that twill cotton will see off the draughts with ease. The Lounge Lover collection of cotton basics shows us the third way to wear summer whites at their most versatile: layers. There’s a great trick with summer whites that involves mixing sheer white with solids when it comes to layers. Take Beate Heymann’s sheer tulle leggings, for example, and slip them beneath Metalicus’ white Lace dress for an effective contrast. Top the lot with a Layered Cardigan top from Lounge Lover as a finishing touch that turns a high summer look into something a smidgeon warmer for when the sun inevitably retreats.
The weather may be unreliable but classic monochromes will never let you down. White will always make you look fresh and clean if you return the favour and have a stain remover handy at all times. Wear it with black or a bright colour if you’re minded to but this is the summer monochrome to go for whether we’re basking in the sun or just waiting for it peek from behind those clouds.
Vests are surely the least sexy-sounding garment in the lingerie drawer unless you’re talking lace-trimmed silk camisoles, which takes us into quite different territory. But they are, in fact, the most practical items in the drawer. I once went, for journalistic purposes, to one of those stylists who make you over and put you right in your dressing. One of her recommendations was the obvious one, to invest in really good clothes hangers (so very worth it). The other was to buy lightweight vests, possibly lace-trimmed, but however they look, they underpin whatever you’re wearing and give it something to sit on. And don’t think they’re only for winter, she said, because the trend for sheer summer tops requires a seriously lovely layer beneath.
I’ve worn them since, summer, fall and winter. Flesh or tan coloured are the best for sitting under most things: white vests stand out, even under white blouses, and coloured vests should be worn carefully if they’re going to show. But a pretty, woven, lightweight vest in a neutral colour, is genuinely useful bit of underwear. Sometimes they masquerade under the titles ‘cami‘ or ‘tank‘ and come in varying lengths and coverage but they’re the same things in the end.
By Timo has created the loveliest versions in my view. These are the ultimate cross-over garments – pretty enough to be worn solo in the summer months, practical enough to work through the winter as actual vests when the weather becomes Scandinavian, By Timo’s home territory. The laciest version is impossible pretty with all the details you’d want from a vest that is looking to earn its place at the front of your top drawer.
The office can still be a place where dress codes are entirely unforced but as rigorously maintained as a uniform. At a meeting today I found that of the twelve men present, ten of them were wearing pale blue shirts. And the colleague who shared the office with me was also in blue. It’s a good colour in a shirt, I grant you that, an excellent colour. But what about stripes, or ivory? Orange and navy may be a bit much for a conventional corporate outfit, but a nice pale pink would hardly frighten the horses, now would it?
Luckily for us the female office population has a far wider choice. Women are able to sport every colour under the sun this summer although carrying it through to the office is tricky because most offices, other than creative workplaces, tend to be pretty conservative when it comes to dress codes. One way to work some of that colour in to an office look is by using print. Sandrina Fasoli’s pretty orange and melon silk print combines the lightweight fabric and elegant shape that works for the wearer when it comes to looking grown-up and feminine. IKKS’s beautiful silk dress with a watercolour floral pattern does the same job although with a muted grey background.
Samantha Cameron pulled off a pair of burnt orange trousers as a polling day look last month. It’s a modern way with tailoring that will look every bit as good in a meeting. Sandrina Fasoli’s tailored red trousers are a really elegant and chic version of the same idea. They look equally good with a crisp white shirt or an American Vintage tee so they are right up there on my to-wear list for the summer.
Another thing to get right is the footwear but there’s no reason why these shouldn’t be every bit as fabulous. For a smart, flat option, Pretty Ballerinas always comes up with a variety of good patterns and colours. Melissa on the other hand creates amazing shoes that combine fragrant, wipe-clean materials with classic summer shapes. The ankle-strap wedges are so comfortable and versatile that it’s going to be hard not to wear them every single day.
Large Cotton and Canvas bag, £86, by American Vintage
It’s only when you’ve had children that you realise just how unnecessary most of the kit is that accompanies the contemporary infant. And among the most unnecessary of all are the special baby bags that every new mother feels obliged to own, with a space for a changing mat and pockets to hold bottles and room for nappies. I can rarely see the things without wanting to accost the women who carry them and hiss: you do realise you don’t need this? Because you don’t.
What you need is a bag big enough to hold two or three nappies and a packet of wipes, a couple of bottles and a folded changing mat. And you know what? A big handbag will do the job perfectly well, even the changing mat. There is nothing cooler than accommodating a baby into your everyday wardrobe and one thing most of us possess is a big bag. Make it generous enough, and it’ll not only fit the baby, it’ll stand you in perfectly good stead for civilian life, post-infancy.
Whether you go down the canvas or leather route can depend on the season. Summer is the time you can unleash breezy cottons into your wardrobes and bags are no different in this respect. Leather, as used by IKKS for its capacious handbag, will see you through the seasons but fare less well on the beach (you’ll be hoovering sand from its depths well into autumn) unless your name is Marc Jacobs and a) you won’t go anywhere without your Hermes Birkin and b) someone else will do your bag-hoovering for you. The answer is probably to own a selection. Okay, it means getting a bit of a work-out if you forget the golden rule – just because it will fit in, doesn’t mean that it should fit in – and you overstuff your gorgeous bag, but what is all that gym work for anyway?
The benefits of big bag really show themselves in the summer months. What we all need is a holdall that will masquerade as a handbag when it comes to check-in – especially if you entire mini-break can fit into your hand luggage. It is also a way to combine a summer shopping bag (practical) with a shape and colour that fits right in with your outfit rather than simply going along with it (fashion hit).