Winter Print

Winter print, it’s a no-brainer really. When it feels cold outside, you should bring warmth and personality into what you wear. And nothing says that better than a spiralling, frenetic pattern or painterly splatters. It’s also a lot more interesting than just the traditional blocks of black, grey, navy and brown colour palettes that so often dominate the season. Even so, if you do prefer a more sombre palette, then this is exactly the time to make sure the pieces you do choose are those that come with some sort of razzle-dazzle too.

But let’s get something straight: winter print is different to summer print. The latter you’ll find spring-fresh or neon-bright in tone and radiating from a wispy-wafting piece of chiffon. Use of black is sparse, if at all, and motifs themselves rightly depict paradise vistas and beyond. Winter print is underpinned by bold graphics, geometric formations and an often slightly jarring (but in a good away) colourway.

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Dries Van Noten did it most memorably this season: spiralling kaleidoscopic lines of magenta and orange, navy and yellow, and monochrome. Sunglasses weren’t worn just for show this time round, they were required. Modern art movements informed collections from Chanel and Burberry to Roksanda and Prada.

The pros for winter print are that you’ll stand out on a grey day – both against the backdrop of a rainy cityscape and the legions of winter-coat-wearers that wander its streets. It’s also a nice reminder that winter isn’t just a month of gloom – getting darker earlier and staying so for longer – and that colour can still reign supreme beyond the realms of July and August.

But the way to wear it is either head-to-toe as one item such as a dress or coat; or select one choice piece and make that your sartorial centrepiece, as it were. Valentino‘s circus-bright skirt in pink, red and black will work with a black roll-neck jumper; Acne’s zingy mini needs only a band-style T-shirt or simply a plain design; while tops will easily bring something new to favourite jeans or faithful smart bottoms.

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The Pleated Skirt

There’s something so seasonally right about pleated skirts for the autumn/winter season – they’re so very back-to-school (that’s September for you). But, thankfully, when they crop up in our wardrobes again now, there’s no longer the fear of double maths to accompany them.

Instead, they’ve received an upgrade – in luxe leather, shimmer, spliced with sequins and rendered in box or knife varieties that sway sexily around the knee as they go ( Christian Dior and Guy Laroche did these styles best).

Traversing wardrobe opportunities, this season sees them dressed up (a razzle-dazzle miniskirt from Marco de Vincenzo), dressed down (a slouchy jumper at Valentino) and everywhere in between. There was an elegant durability to Dior’s swishy take and a toughness at Guy Laroche. Of course there was that Eighties Lurex appeal at Loewe and those billowing splays at Balmain. Who knew pleats could look quite so good?

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The thing to note with the pleated skirt now though is where at school it blended into a background of navy or black (or green or red or grey depending on what your school uniform was), here it steals all of the outfit action. You’ll look forward to wearing it.

And directions for doing so? Strands of stealth should be worn with something neat and uncluttered up top – a shirt or simple T-shirt; while sparkly or sheer variations should have the luxe and polish factor amped up with a structured, gently oversized blazer, or an enveloping jumper. Be careful to keep the silhouette clean and not overload yourself with angles and layers, and of course be sure to leave fashion’s current penchant for backpacks right at home.

Remember, we are not going back to school.

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The Babydoll Dress

The babydoll dress is swinging back into action, which means it’s going to be a season of pins on parade. It’s been some years since the style was hanging on the rails, let alone in our wardrobes. Fashion went androgynous, it went normcore and then it went and had a love affair with the Seventies and suddenly romance and ethereal shapes wafted back into the minds of designers and both waistlines and hemlines were on the rise.

They are again.

For the pre-autumn/winter 2015 season, Dior, JW Anderson, Valentino, Chloe, Calvin Klein Collection all put forward the case for the dress, which although based on Fifties nightwear and a doll’s style of dress, manages to be one part smart (the structured high neck or yoke-based point from which the trapeze silhouette falls) to one part easy (that’s a swingy skirt for you). And it’s something that looks set to stick around for the pre-spring/summer 2016 season too – Mary Katrantzou, Chanel, Prada and Saint Laurent have all done a version.

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And the great thing about them is that you don’t have to think too much about what you wear with them – they will take centre stage when it comes to the outfit. But you do need to make sure you get it right, or suddenly the babydoll will look all wrong.

The secret lies in a great coat – a fuzzy Louis Vuitton number from the autumn/winter 2015 collections is the way to aim; or if wearing in the last of those summer days, then a faithful leather jacket will work – and tap into the garment’s original mod appeal.

When it comes to shoes, flat simple sandals will fit the bill to see you out for the next month but then you need to switch to boots – ankle will be best, or a brogue. Knee-high or more will feel too retro to a decade we’re starting to say goodbye to (the Seventies in favour of the Eighties). A flat shoe or boot feels modern and mod and keeps the whole look youthful, which is entirely its intention. But that doesn’t mean it can’t look smart. Opt for more structured shapes, detail on yokes and collars, long sleeves and cuffs for this.

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