Right. Here we go. You all seem to be in a right state about what to wear this Spring and Summer so I’m here to remind you about a few summer basics. And to just generally give you a little pep talk – mostly about Instagram.
For those of you on Instagram and those who particularly follow certain accounts that make you feel like, I don’t know, you’re too fat or not stylish enough or don’t have the right bag or whatever – I’ve got one word for you:
You don’t need straw bags with your name on them, sandals in the shape of a flamingo or 15 new shades of nail polish. There is no room in your life for another impractical dress you will only wear twice, a new very-slightly-different striped top from the 19 you already own or heels you can’t wear to work.
Unfollowing people who make you feel inadequate is easy and totally reversible and once you get beyond 1k followers it’s impossible to tell who is coming or going. They won’t notice or be offended. Just slide away.
I am not slating these kind of Instagram accounts at all, but I am saying that if you aren’t able to maintain a critical distance between yourself and what is basically the world’s most successful marketing tool – (i.e. so I don’t blame you) – then re-think who you follow.
I recommend Pierce Brosnan and National Geographic for a more soothing Instagram experience.
Photographs ought to be inspiration not aspiration. When you see someone on Instagram looking knock-out your first thought ought to be “Do I have similar things already I could wear to make that outfit?” not “I need to buy all that immediately.”
Here is a list of the things I think represent absolute basics for an everyday summer wardrobe. And when I say “summer” I mean days when it is too hot for jeans – this is not holiday or beachwear… I’ll take a run at those another time.
I don’t mean that these are the only clothes you should have, I’m saying that these are your building blocks and they will make the rest of your wardrobe make sense; they will get you through the occasional heatwave between now and September without having to resort to wearing flip flops and a pair of floppy linen shorts with really visible pockets to work. Flamingoes need not apply.
1 pair of good espadrilles. My pair are by Seven Boot Lane, but I see from their website that they’re “taking a break” (going bankrupt?) so some other nice ones I found on the Selfridges website are these from Dune
or these from Kurt Geiger
I also really fancy these from Soludos via ShopBop (BEWARE on ShopBop of extra taxes and COD horror snakes – reader Trish – see comments – was stung badly). Basically impossible to find a pair of Soludos without a goddamn flamingo or a California Roll on them, but I managed.
2 I also have bought this year a pair of Castaner high heeled wedges, which I adore beyond measure. This exact pair are sold out in a few sizes but there are other colours available. If you want a pair of these, size down. These are for occasion wear only, not for long commutes. They do stay on, but need to be re-tied once or twice for maximum security. An inconvenience I believe they are worth.
If those are, financially, out of the question, these from Topshop look to me like a good alternative.
3 T-Shirts. How many times do I have to say this? 3 good white t-shirts, from wherever you like, one grey, one black, will solve most problems. If yours are looking tired, replace them. My current favourite is from H&M.
4 Denim shirt – a J Crew chambray “Keeper” shirt worn reasonably loose will dig you out of many a hole but the effing website is down. This one from Gap looks like a good alternative.
5 Midi skirts. Just find a shape that suits you. Hush are doing very nice ones at the moment, (and will be bringing one out in a very good leopard print soon), but some might find the pockets add unwanted millimetres over the hips.
I have got this exact Santana skirt and it’s great. Better than the pink, which is sold out anyway. I wore it to death in Kenya; size down.
I also have the Rouje Gloria skirt, which is actual heaven. Take your normal size.
Or look, here’s a nice one in pink if you really want a pink one:
6 Culottes or cropped trousers. I feel like there are still some floating voters out there – I pushed these hard last year and some of you went for them and others took it as a personal insult and are probably throwing things at the screen to stop me fucking going on about damn culottes.
But, they’re so handy! Not jeans, swishy and cool and practical. Don’t forget – if you find a pair you like for colour and sizing round the waist but the length is wrong, you can always get them taken up.
If you are going for a high-waisted thing, try these, also from Stories:
I do like a bit of plisse:
These are terrific, if a bit wacky
And I like these:
7 Shell or tank tops. Unless you have pneumatic boobs or are willing to do a strapless bra thing, just forget spaghetti strap camisoles. Your bra always shows and it doesn’t look nice unless you are tiny and 25 and very tanned. Wide strap plain shell tops look really smart and are no hotter than a cami top.
I am a big fan of these sleeveless shirt things, like this – because I have broad shoulders and a long neck so they stop me from looking like a child’s bad drawing of a man-giraffe – but I understand they might not suit everyone.
Otherwise I mean something like this:
You will look marvellous in these, while wearing your cropped trousers and a pair of those mad earrings you bought in Ibiza in 2006.
8 1 black dress. I am a big fan of a very simple light black dress in the summer worn with tan accessories and gold jewellery. Of course, we have other dresses we buy and wear for fun because we live in the West and we are rich and idle.
But if I had to whittle my dress collection down to just one – it would be a lightweight black one. If you don’t own one, once you get one you will find yourself reaching for it pretty much every day.
Something like this:
My Comptoir des Cotonniers silk dress is one of the best things I own & worth every penny, in spite of dry-clean only hassle. This is their updated version –
This from Hush if you can do a tie-waist (I can’t):
Anyway have a poke about; the rules are that it needs to be something you can throw on gratefully, wear with comfortable underwear and is light as a feather. Be ware of anything to-the-floor as it’s never practical with buggy wheels, escalators and car doors.
9 SIMPLE jewellery. Do you have a massive clattery collection of mad impulse-buy jewellery that you bought because it seemed like a good idea at the time, but don’t own a pair of simple studs or gold hoops? Fix this.
10 Fake tan. The thing that makes summer remotely possible – for me at least. At the moment I am a slavering devotee of St Tropez Express tan, which I only have to leave on for HALF an hour and then wash off and lasts for ages. It’s also available ON OCADO HELLO??
But hear amazing things about things like Vita Liberata and Isle of Paradise, too – anyone tried it?