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Style Basics

3 Things That Aren’t Fashion Crimes, No Matter What Anyone Tries to Tell You

fashion crimes

If you read fashion magazines or blogs, you might have picked up a few slightly strange ideas about what counts as a “fashion crime” these days. Things like…

WEARING THE SAME OUTFIT ON REPEAT

According to the fashion elite, wearing the same thing over and over again is boring and uncreative: instead, you should be constantly experimenting and evolving, by finding new ways to wear older clothes.

We say: who has the time to put so much thought into getting dressed every morning? Sure, if getting dressed is your hobby, and you genuinely enjoy the challenge of never repeating an outfit, go ahead and implement a “no repeats” policy – but the fact is that most of us just want to look our best – and we don’t really care if that means wearing the same thing, in the same way.

NOT BEING ‘FASHIONABLE’

It always surprises us to see some people still un-ironically declaring that something is “so last season” or “out of fashion”. If you like it and it suits you, then who really cares if it’s not at the cutting edge of style? Keeping up with trends will make you “fashionable”, true – but it won’t make you stylish. Wearing what you like, regardless of whether it’s “in” or “out” is a much better way to do that.

NOT DRESSING YOUR AGE

There are SO many stupid rules relating to what women should and shouldn’t wear at different ages. We say forget them all, and wear what makes you feel good – as long as it’s appropriate for whatever you’re wearing it FOR, obviously. You can be dressed inappropriately for the occasion – you can’t really be dressed inappropriately for your age.

In other words: don’t pay attention to fashion “rules” – that’s what fashion victims do, and look where it gets them! Instead, wear what looks good, regardless of what kind of rule you might be breaking: you’ll never regret wearing something you love.

Style Basics

Classic Capsule Wardrobe for Spring 2016

capsule wardrobe for spring

One of our most popular posts of all time was the capsule wardrobe we created for spring 2014

We still get questions about the items in that capsule to this day, and as most of them have long-since sold out, we figured it was time for an update. We’re definitely not trying to re-create the wheel with this post: as the nautical style is such a spring classic, and so popular amongst our visitors, we’ve simply updated and refined our original spring capsule wardrobe, using items available to buy right now. So you’ll find a lot of stripes, a lot of red, white and blue, and, above all, a selection of items which should easily mix and match to create effortless spring style that you don’t have to think too much about.

This capsule wardrobe is actually a little smaller than the original one: partly because not all of the same items were available, but also because we firmly believe you don’t have to own a huge amount of clothing in order to look stylish. In fact, sometimes the opposite is true, and the less you own, the easier it is to create combinations that work. As with any capsule wardrobe – or any WARDROBE, period – the key here is to buy the best quality you can afford, and to pay close attention to fit and fabric.

Inside our spring capsule wardrobe:

trench // blazer //  bag // floral dress // stripe dress //

red trousers // blue jeans // stripe skirt // print skirt // red flats // gold wedges 

blue cardigan // cream cardigan // breton top 

white t-shirt // navy top

(Please note that while all items were available at the time of writing, the nature of retail is such that items do sell out, so apologies if any are no longer available at the time of writing. We hope they provide you with the necessary inspiration to find something similar, though!)

And here are some outfits you can create using these items:

How to make the most of a very small wardrobe: spring capsule wardrobe

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5 Items of Clothing Worth Investing In

At the start of a new year (or a new month, or a new school season…) a lot of people resolve to start spending less on disposable fashion, and more on the so-called “investment” pieces. But what kind of clothing is actually worth investing in? 

The answer to this will obviously depend on your lifestyle, and what you actually wear day-to-day, but here are some things we think are worth spending a little more on – although that’s not to say you shouldn’t ever try to grab a bargain if you can find one!

five items of clothing you won't regret investing in

01. Underwear

We touched on this in yesterday’s post, but a lot of people have the idea that if unless it’s on show, it’s not worth investing in in. We personally believe dressing well (even when no one but you will see it) is a great way to give yourself a confidence boost, but it’s particularly important with underwear, because it can completely change the appearance of your clothes. As much as we love pretty PJs, for instance, it doesn’t REALLY matter what you wear to sleep in: an ill-fitting bra, however, or underwear that creates lumps and bumps where you don’t actually have any, can ruin the line of your clothes, and also change your figure. We’re going to keep on re-itterating in this post that you don’t necessarily HAVE to spend a lot of money in order to find supportive undies that fit perfectly – but if you can’t find them on a budget, they’re definitely worth investing it.

02. Sportswear

As with the point above, it’s easy to convince yourself that an old t-shirt and pair of saggy leggings are OK to work out in, given that you’re just going to get them sweaty anyway. Appearance aside, though, you can actually end up spending more money this way, because if you’re constantly wearing and washing that old t-shirt, you’re going to have to replace it much sooner than something made specifically for the job. Not only is “proper” sportswear designed to be washed frequently without losing its shape or colour, it’ll also keep you cooler during your workout, thanks to the sweat-wicking fabric most modern sportswear is made from. Oh, and it goes without saying that a supportive sports bra and pair of sneakers are well worth the investment!

03.  Outerwear

 

We get it: coats and other outerwear are expensive enough as it is – and now we’re telling you to spend even more on them? Well, no, not necessarily: if you’ve found a source of low-cost coats that last for years AND keep you warm, then we want to know your secret, is all. Too often, though, you’ll find that cheap coats might look the part, but they won’t last as well or feel as warm as something that might cost a little bit more. And when you wear something every day for months on end, you’re definitely going to get your money’s worth out of it!

04. Shoes 

Be honest: what did you think when you saw the shoes in our image? Did you love them – or did you think they looked just a little bit… well, cheap? The problem with cheap shoes, you see, is that it’s much harder to make them look more expensive, so while you could put a cheap t-shirt, say, next to a more expensive one, and barely be able to tell the difference, with shoes you can almost always tell. It can be hard to resist the lure of the inexpensive ballet flat or party shoe, but when it comes to shoes you’ll be wearing to work, or which you expect to be able to wear for a long time, plastic uppers and thin soles are not the way to go!

05. Jeans

Now, we know not everyone actually wears jeans, so feel free to skip this one if it’s not relevant, but if you DO wear jeans on the regular, you probably know how hard it is to find the right fit and wash, right? For that reason alone, when you DO find the perfect pair of jeans, it’s worth paying whatever they cost – trust us on this. If you’re lucky, your perfect jeans might not cost too much (We love Topshop denim, for instance…), but if you’re NOT lucky, and your perfect jeans cost a little – or a lot – more, then we’re sorry, but you’re just going to have to suck it up: we promise you won’t regret it.

[For more fashion advice, check out our sister site, Forever Amber!]

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6 Wardrobe Staples to Start Your Closet from Scratch

6 closet staples to build your wardrobe from scratch

trench / dress /  jeans  / sweater / cami shoes

Anyone else starting the new year with a renewed determination to clear out their closet and start again from scratch? 

Sometimes a good old closet clear-out isn’t enough. Sometimes a complete change of style is what’s needed, and if you’re still trying to work out exactly what YOUR style is (there’s some advice on how to do that here), a good place to start is by building up a solid foundation of basics: the so-called ‘wardrobe essentials’ that allow you to get dressed every morning without having to think too hard about what to wear.

Now, we’re not saying these items will be wardrobe staples for EVERYONE – far from it. It goes without saying that everyone has different taste and different requirements, but if you’re a fan of classic style (and as you’ve probably worked out by now, we ARE fans of classic style), you can’t go too far wrong with these six pieces, all of which can be worn in lots of different ways, and form the building blocks for a wardrobe that will work for you for many years to come.

They are:

The classic trench:

The mainstay of many an “items all women should own” list: we DON’T believe that ALL women should own a classic trenchcoat, but we don’t deny that it’s a handy item to have in your closet anyway.

The simple dress:

It doesn’t have to be black, but a plain dress, that fits perfectly, and can be dressed up or down as required, will see you through many an occasion.

The perfect pair of jeans:

What counts as the “perfect” jeans will be different for everyone: some people love boyfriend jeans, while others stick to skinnies, and still more people swear by the good ol’ bootcut or flare. Whatever your perfect pair, making sure you own at least one version of them will allow you to solve many a wardrobe dilemma, with just one item.

The Breton stripe:

It might be just a causal sweater, but it will add instant style to anything you wear with it.

The silk cami:

So much classier than a tank top or t-shirt, the silk cami is an easy shortcut to grown-up style.

The black patent pumps:

Don’t like heels? A classic ballet flat will work just as well!

 

Style Basics

5 Five New Year’s Resolutions for a Stylish 2016

New Year's Style Resolutions

Happy New Year, Fashion Force!

We hope you’ve had an excellent start to 2016. If you’re anything like us, we’re sure you’re starting the year the way you mean to go on: and that means resolutions a-plenty. Here are some style-related resolutions to help you on your way to your most stylish year yet…

01. Stop caring what people think 

One thing most stylish people have in common is the fact that they exude confidence. Think of the most stylish person you know: can you even imagine her/him standing in front of the mirror and agonising over that outfit? Probably not: because truly stylish people know what they like, and they don’t really care what other people think of them. It can be hard to get into this mindset, but once you stop constantly seeking approval from outside sources, you’ll be able to start wearing what feels good – and that’s normally what LOOKS good, too.

02. Stop buying clothes you won’t wear 

It can be so tempting to blow your budget on an amazing party dress or fabulous pair of shoes – especially if it’s on sale. It’s only a bargain if you’re actually going to wear it, though, so unless you have the kind of lifestyle that requires a constant stream of party dresses, your wardrobe will be better off if you invest in the type of clothes you’ll actually wear on a day-to-day basis. Spending the most money on the items you’ll wear most often might not give you the same buzz as those one-off purchases that you’ll never wear again, but it WILL result in a more stylish wardrobe in the long-run.

03. Clear out your closet once every season…

… or at least twice a year, if possible. Aim to go through everything you have for spring/summer and for autumn/winter, get rid of anything that doesn’t fit or flatter, and work out what you need to buy to fill any resulting holes.

04.  Try something new

We’re big fans of the concept of the signature style, but it’s all too easy to get stuck in a rut, and to keep wearing the same old things, even if they no longer suit you. We all change constantly, which means it’s good to re-evaluate our core closet every so often by trying something new. That doesn’t mean you have to buy it, or even wear it – just trying it on in the store will tell you everything you need to know – but every time you go shopping, try taking something you normally wouldn’t wear into the fitting room with you: you might be surprised by how much you like it, and if you’re not? Well, at least you know!

05. Create a capsule wardrobe, even if you don’t intend to stick to it

The capsule wardrobe was super-popular in 2015, but it’s definitely not for everyone. Even if you don’t want to restrict yourself to wearing the same collection of clothing all the time, however, we recommend taking the time to pull together a capsule wardrobe consisting of the items you consider to be absolutely essential. Doing this will not only help you work out what your style really is, and to identify any items you need to buy, it will also make sure you always have something to wear – even on days when you’re absolutely lacking in inspiration.

Here’s to a stylish 2016!

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Style Lessons We Learned from Audrey Hepburn

It might seem like a total cliché to name Audrey Hepburn as your number one style icon, but the star’s classic style remains popular for a reason…

style lessons we learned from Audrey Hepburn

[This is not Audrey Hepburn. But you get the idea.]

Here are some of the style lessons we’ve learned from Audrey Hepburn…

Simple is almost always best 

When you look back at Audrey Hepburn’s outfits – and particularly at more candid shots featuring her “off duty” style – the main thing you’ll notice is the sheer simplicity of the looks. Hepburn favoured mostly black or neutral colour palettes, and while she wasn’t afraid to throw in a printed dress or colourful skirt, the pieces themselves were always simply cut, with minimal styling. While some would call this “boring”, that simplicity is what helps makes the looks so memorable – and so iconic.

Perfect fit is essential

In saying that simple is best, it’s important to remember that not all clothing items are created equal, and “simple” doesn’t necessarily equal “stylish”. If you’re going to stick to the basics, then, you have to make sure you have the RIGHT basics, and that the fit is impeccable. Many celebrities have their clothing tailored in order to achieve this (yes, even basics like t-shirts and jeans), and the perfect fit can be the difference between a stylish outfit, and one which is simply OK.

“I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.” – Audrey Hepburn

It’s OK to have a uniform

We’ve talked about this before, but have you ever noticed how the women most frequently cited as “style icons” all have styles which are instantly identifiable? It’s possible to look at a particular dress or top and say, “That’s SO Audrey Hepburn”, and that’s because one of the style secrets Audrey knew well was that once you’ve found a style you love, and that works for you, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with sticking to it. In today’s world, uniform dressing tends to be slated as uncreative – we praise the people who are capable of constantly changing, and criticize those who know what they like and wear it, even if it’s not “in fashion”. But whose style do you think will be remembered years from now? Exactly.

Choose a signature item to stand out and be remembered

The oversized black sunglasses Audrey Hepburn wears in Breakfast at Tiffany’s are one of her “trademark” looks, and she was often photographed wearing oversized glasses off-screen, too. You don’t have to wear bug-eyed glasses if you don’t want to, of course, but a signature piece is an easy way to give your style a personal stamp, and create something that’s very YOU. You could go for red lipstick, say, interesting jewellery or a colour you wear often –

Happy girls are the prettiest girls…

…and the most stylish, too. Perhaps the most important style lesson we can learn from Audrey Hepburn comes from the quote above: whatever you wear, it should make you feel happy, confident, and ready to take on the world. Clothes that make you feel uncomfortable or self-conscious, on the other hand, will NEVER look stylish, no matter how beautiful they look on the hanger, or how “bang on trend” they are. You know those times when you find yourself twisting and turning in front of the mirror, thinking, “Should I wear this?” The answer to that question is always NO: because the fact that you even have to ASK it shows that you’re not going to be comfortable if you do talk yourself into wearing it. That doesn’t mean you’ll look bad in it, necessarily – but it does mean that you’ll probably FEEL bad, and that will come across in your body language, and the way you keep tugging at your skirt or wobbling on shoes you weren’t sure you should wear. Remember that happy girls are the prettiest girls, so wear what makes you happy, and you’ll look a whole lot better as a result.

[Image]
Style Basics

Casual outfit ideas for classic dressers

Why is it that casual outfit ideas can often be the hardest to come up with?

6 casual outfit ideas for when you don't know what to wear

Many of us have no problem dressing for work, for special events, or for anything else that has a dress code you can follow: those outfits are relatively easy. Looking stylish but casual, however, is a whole other ball game, which is why we all know women (or maybe even ARE those women…) who can reach into their closet at a moment’s notice and pull out the perfect outfit for a wedding or other event, but who are totally lost when it comes to a casual lunch with friends, or anything else that requires them to dress down.

If the words “smart casual” – or even just “casual” on its own – make your heart sink with the knowledge that you’re about to spend an hour rummaging through your closet, while wailing “I have nothing to wear” over and over again, these casual outfit ideas are for you. In the list below we’ve pulled together some of the classic casual looks that you can always rely on to look good. Here are just a few of them…

Casual outfit ideas for classic dressers

what to wear with a biker jacket

Biker jacket and jeans

A black biker jacket is one of those pieces that’s often quoted as a wardrobe essential, and it’s not hard to understand why. This is also an item that’s worth investing in, because it’ll last forever, and allow you to come up with countless casual outfit ideas based around it, so when you’re shopping for your moto jacket, hold out for the perfect fit, and pay attention to the colour of the hardware. Most biker jackets come with either silver or gold hardware, so make sure you choose the one that will work best with the rest of your wardrobe. Pair your biker jacket with dark wash jeans, a classic stripe t-shirt or sweater and simple black pumps for a wear-anywhere casual look.   [Get the look here]

casual outfit ideas: blue jeans and white shirt

Blue jeans, white shirt

Lana del Ray knew what she was talking about, huh? You could come up with tons of casual outfit ideas with a great pair of jeans, but the combination of jeans and white button-down shirt is one of our favourites: it’s an another all-time classic, which is dressed down, but still feels pulled together. The key to this outfit is finding the perfect pair of blue jeans, which is often easier said than done. While slouchy, destroyed boyfriend styles like the ones above do work well with the look, if you’re a fan of classic style, you might want to go with something a little more fitted, and without the distressing. In general, the darker the wash, the more dressy the jeans will look, while bleached or mid-blue washes will look more casual. Boyfriend jeans tend to work better with heels, while skinnies will also look good with flats: your call.  [Get the look here.]

capri pants - casual outfit idea

Capri pants and pointed flats

Take style tips from classic dressers like Audrey Hepburn with a pair of black capri pants and pointed flats. The look above will be perfect for summer, but can be updated for autumn with pants that hit at ankle length, rather than just below the knee. A stripe top is always a good idea (and, again, will provide you with an endless amount of casual outfit ideas), but for true classic style, a boat-neck or bardot sweater will dress the look up a little, while still keeping it casual. [Get the look here]

casual outfit ideas: cropped trousers and silk cami

Crops and cami

A silk cami top is another important weapon in the casual-dressing arsenal. These actually look quite dressy, but pair with a pair of tailored crops and throw a cardigan or jacket over the top if it’s cold, and it’ll take you just about anywhere. The high heeled sandals show here will take the outfit up a notch, and make it much less casual, but these are causal outfit ideas for women who don’t really DO “casual” after all, so as long as you’re not wearing this one to something with a super-causal dress code, you should be able to get away with it!

pencil skirt and sweater

Pencil skirt and sweater

A lot of people wouldn’t add a pencil skirt to a list of casual outfit ideas: they tend to be connected with work outfits or other tailored/dressy looks, but pick one in a jersey fabric and it’s instantly casual. A slouchy sweater will provide the perfect finishing touch, and a nice mix of causal and dressy. [Get the look here.]

dress and sneakers

Dress and sneakers 

Finally, a little black dress is another item you probably don’t reach for when you’re struggling to come up with casual outfit ideas, but add a pair of sneakers, and throw a denim jacket over the top, and you could be surprised by just how casual you can make it look. The key here, of course, is in finding the right dress – midi lengths in stretchy, jersey fabrics tend to work well, we find.

Style Basics

Anatomy of the Perfect Wear to Work Dress

finding the perfect wear to work dress

What makes for the perfect wear to work dress?

Well, let’s see…

It can’t be too short …

…because the last thing you want when you’re trying to be taken seriously at work is to be constantly hauling your skirt down, being afraid to lean too far forward in case you flash your knickers, or having colleagues oggle your legs rather than listen  to your ideas. That doesn’t mean you have to cover yourself for head-to-toe, obviously, but you DO want to wear something you can move around comfortably in without worrying about where your hemline’s going to end up.

It can’t be too tight

…because the office is not a club (er, unless you ACTUALLY work in a club, in which case none of this advice applies…), and if you can see your bellybutton through your dress, it doesn’t exactly scream “professional” – no matter how great you think you look. Choose fitted, pencil dresses or shifts rather than body-conscious lycra or spandex: you don’t have to hide your figure completely in order to look professional.

It can’t be too strappy

…because no matter how warm it is outside, spaghetti straps or strapless styles just aren’t for the office. The perfect wear to work dress doesn’t necessarily have to have full-length sleeves, but it should offer some kind of shoulder-coverage, at least. If you’re wearing a sleeveless shift and your office has air con, you might want to bring along a cardi or light jacket so you can cover up if you get cold (or are just sensitive about your arms).

It can’t be too childish

…because you all know how The Fashion Police feel about dressing like a toddler, right? All joking aside, some people favour very childish styles, and while that’s all well and good for your day-to-day life, it can be hard to be taken seriously at work if you’re wearing pigtails and frilly ankle socks. Baby doll dresses, pinafores and other styles associated with very young girls don’t make for a great wear to work dress: save them for your free time if you really want to wear them, and choose something a little more grown-up for the office.

It can’t be too bright

… because you want people to concentrate on your work, not on what you’re wearing. Although all of the dresses in our graphic are black, you don’t necessarily have to stick to very dark colours. While it’s true that many wear to work dresses come in neutral shades like black, navy or grey, you can get away with other colours, too. We’re not saying your wear to work dress can’t be colourful – we’re just saying it shouldn’t be neon, and it’s probably a good idea to avoid very busy, clashing prints, which are jarring and distracting. Choosing work dresses in neutral shades also means you can get away with wearing them more often, too – people will notice if you have the same bold print on constant rotation, but that little black dress can look different every time you wear it, and will work a whole lot harder for you.

Looking for a wear to work dress to wear right now? Try Boden’s Aurelia Ottoman dress -perfection in dress form.

anatomy of the perfect wear-to-work dress

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Spring Capsule Wardrobe

spring capsule wardrobe 2014

Spring Capsule Wardrobe 2014

Spring is in the air – at least, we hope so – which means many of you are probably starting to think about packing away the winter woolies to make way for the lighter, brighter spring collections. So, what will you be wearing in spring 2014? To help you decide, we’ve put together a quick spring capsule wardrobe for 2014 consisting of just 22 mix-n-match items to get you through the season in style.

Before we get on to the items themselves – and the outfits you can create with them – we just want to stress that this isn’t an exhaustive list, and it isn’t a “one style fits all” type of thing, either. We’ve created our spring capsule wardrobe with the classic dresser in mind: these are the type of items you can use to build a selection of smart/casual outfits which are contemporary without being too trendy, and which should (hopefully) stand the test of time and see you well into NEXT spring, and maybe even the one after.

All of our chosen items come from the spring 2014 collections, and, at the time of writing, are available to buy from UK high street stores. We haven’t set a particular budget, but we have done our best to select affordable items in the low to mid-range price points, as opposed to aspirational designer pieces. That said, although we’ve put together this spring capsule wardrobe specifically for spring 2014, should you be reading this a couple of years from now or in a country these brands don’t ship to, you should be able to find similar alternatives without too much difficulty.

The key to this spring capsule wardrobe lies in the colour mix: we’ve stuck to a palette of mostly reds, navys and whites, with a couple of other colours thrown in. By making sure all of the colours in your capsule can be worn with each other, you can create dozens of different outfits from just a few pieces. Here are our 22 items:

Inside our Spring Capsule Wardrobe 2014:

OUTERWEAR & ACCESSORIES: Trench Coat | Jersey Blazer | Scarf | Belt
SWEATERS & TOPS: Breton sweater | White t-shirt |  Stripe shell top| Yellow cardigan | Navy cardigan
TROUSERS & JEANSRed jeans | White trousers | Blue jeans
SHOES: Polka dot slingbacks | Red wedges | Nude peep toes
DRESSES & SKIRTS: Polka dot dress | Flared dress | Full Skirt | Pencil skirt
EXTRAS: Necklace | Bag | Shirt

And here are 22 outfits you can create with them:

Spring Capsule Wardrobe 2014 | 22 outfits from 22 items

What would you include in your spring capsule wardrobe 2014?

 

Style Basics

The Importance of Developing a Uniform

Today at The Fashion Police, we’re talking about the importance of developing a “uniform”:

Importance of Developing a Uniform

Whoops! Sorry, wrong kind of “uniform!”

No, we’re not suggesting you should dress as a soldier, or a nurse, or cabin crew, or wear any other kind of traditional uniform every day. Well, not unless you actually ARE in one of those professions, obviously, in which case, uniform away!

When we talk about “uniforms” in the context of style, we’re referring to those go-to items: the clothes which are most “you”. The items you can pull out of the closet without even thinking about it, and know you’ll look good – and, more importantly, FEEL good, in them. The items that make up a uniform tend to be the things we wear most often, for exactly that reason. They’re the pants that fit so perfectly that you buy them in every colour; the jacket you can throw on over anything and feel instantly pulled together; the colours that you know suit you best, and work with everything else in your closet. This “uniform” may not be the most interesting or experimental outfit you ever wear, but it tends to form the basis of lots of other looks, and on those days when you get out of bed and everything you try on makes you want to crawl right back into it, the “uniform” is that failsafe fallback option that you can always depend on.

Our uniform would probably consist of…

♥  J. Crew ‘Minnie’ pants – ideally in black, but we’d buy them in every colour if we possibly could.We’ve written about these before, but they really are our perfect black pants.

Stripe, boat-neck top: We like Zara’s selection, but we’re not fussy.

Red pointed flats or heels, depending on where we’re going and what we’re doing

A trench coat (for warm weather) or classic camel coat if it’s cold.

A roomy leather shoulder bag

Big sunglasses: because some days it’s not a uniform you need so much as a disguise…

What’s your uniform?

[Image ©  | Dreamstime.com]
Ask the Fashion Police, Style Basics

Five non-clothing items that will make your clothes look better

5 things that will make your clothes look better

They say the clothes maketh the man – or the woman, as the case may be – but sometimes those clothes need a bit of a helping hand. Even the most beautifully made designer duds can start to look like crimes of fashion if you don’t look after them properly: here are five items which aren’t clothes themselves, but which will make your clothes look better…

1. A petticoat or slip

If you like to wear full skirts, buy a tulle petticoat to put underneath them. Trust us, you will not regret it. A petticoat will make your skirt look fuller, smoother and much more dramatic, as well as helping to create the illusion of an hourglass figure, or emphasise the one you already have. We’re not suggesting you wear one every day, of course – that could be a little TOO much, even for us – but for special occasions, you can’t go wrong. If your skirts are pencil-shaped, meanwhile, stock up on a selection of silk or silk-like slips. They’ll keep you warm in winter and cool in summer, and they’ll also make your skirts and dresses stay crease free, smoothing out any lumps and bumps underneath them, and stopping them from riding up when they come into contact with your tights. (And yes, we know: technically you could describe these as “clothes”, but as you (probably) wouldn’t wear them out in public, we think they count…)

2. A lint roller

Wear a lot of dark colours? A lint roller will be your new best friend, ridding your dark clothes of all of those annoying bits of fluff and other detrius that are attracted to them. These aren’t expensive, and can be found just about anywhere: stores like H&M and Primark often have bins full of them right next to the cash registers.

3. Good quality clothes hangers

You could spend a small fortune on your clothes, but if you cram them into your closet any old way, or hang them on cheap wire hangers, they won’t look good for long. A well-organised wardrobe is the best way to keep your clothes looking their best, but if you don’t have the space for that giant walk-in you’ve always dreamt of, some good quality hangers, which won’t damage delicate fabrics, or pull garments out of shape, is a good start.

4. A steamer or iron

We’ll never stop being amazed by the number of people who take great pride in the fact that they don’t own an iron. Look, we get it: ironing is dull, time-consuming, and normally the LAST thing you want to spend your evening doing, but badly creased clothes (Which aren’t just creased as a result of wearing them all day) are ALWAYS a crime of fashion, so invest in an iron or garment steamer and learn how to use it.

5. A full-length mirror

It sounds like a no-brainer, but hands up how many of you are getting ready every morning without the benefit of a full-length mirror to check out your reflection in? We’re going to bet more than a few of you have your hands up right now. It’s impossible to know what your clothes REALLY look like if you have to look at your reflection in instalments, so find yourself a full-length mirror (if you’re lacking in space, try attaching one to the inside of a closet door) and don’t forget to check how your outfit looks from the back as well as the front.

 

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How to Find Your Style

Don’t know what to wear? Sick of opening up your closet every morning and staring at the contents in despair, or trying on outfit after outfit, only to end up settling for that ancient pair of jeans and a sweater, because you just don’t know what you like any more, or what actually suits you? Maybe you’ve had a baby, gained or lost weight, or simply reached a point in your life when you no longer feel your old look is working for you any more, and you need a change. But how do you find your style when there are so many choices out there that you don’t even know where to start…

how to find your style: developing a personal style from scratch

How to find your style and learn what suits you

Start from scratch

The pursuit of personal style always begins with a good ol’ closet clearout. Take everything out of your wardrobe, go through it and try it on. Discard anything that doesn’t fit, has never been worn, or which you just instinctively hate on sight. Replace the items you’re left with… for the time being at least. If your closet is now looking too bare to, well, bear, you might want to think about investing in some inexpensive basics to tide you over while you’re hunting down new pieces that are more YOU. We’re talking about items like black pants, jeans, fine-knit sweaters… the kind of dull-but-useful pieces which don’t constitute a particular “style” in themselves, but which can form the basis of many different styles once you’ve worked out what kind of look you want to go for.

Create an inspiration board

Much of the time, we work out what we love instinctively: by having a gut reaction to something we’ve seen online, in a magazine, or on someone else. If you’re not really sure what you like, an inspiration board is a great place to start: we love Pinterest for this (follow us here), because it not only allows you to create boards filled with looks you like, it also lets you browse other people’s boards to find even more inspiration. You can, however, use any method you like to gather and collate photos of the outfits and items you like: pretty soon you should be able to start spotting the common themes among them, which will give you a good place to start when you go shopping.

Experiment

There’s  a big difference between knowing what you LIKE and knowing what suits you. You may absolutely love a particular style of dress, for instance, but find that it just doesn’t flatter your figure, or fit in with your lifestyle.  It’s a mistake to assume that just because something looks good on someone else, that it will also look good on you: we’re all different and there is no “one style suits all.” In order to find out which of the styles you like will actually work for you, you’re going to have to experiment. This is the fun part, and it can also be totally free: you don’t have to actually BUY anything at this stage, simply to try it on, and take a good, long look in the mirror. When you’re doing this, don’t simply stick to the “safe” options, or the things you think you “should” wear: you’re not obliged to buy anything you’re trying on, so take a range of different styles into the changing room – you might be surprised to find that the look you like best is the last thing you’d have thought of.

Photograph yourself

Experimentation is all well and good, of course, but how do you actually know whether something looks good on you? It can be hard to be objective when you’re looking into a harshly-lit fitting room mirror (Why ARE the mirrors in stores always so unflattering?), and it can also be difficult to trust the words of friends/family members who don’t want to hurt your feelings. If it’s at all possible, we recommend photographing yourself in your outfit (Front AND back) – or, better still, getting someone else to do it for you. You don’t have to get all “fashion blogger” here, and take perfectly staged style photos: a simple snap will do. Clothing can look very different on camera than it does in the mirror, and sometimes seeing a photo can completely change your opinion of something. It might not be easy to photograph outfits in store (although a cellphone photo taken in the mirror is still better than nothing), but it’s something worth trying with the clothes you already own: it might give you a totally different perspective on some of them.

If it makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t wear it 

We’ve said this many times now, but confidence and comfort are absolutely essential components of good style. If you feel at all uncomfortable in a certain style, ditch it – no matter how good it looks.

Understand that it takes time to develop a personal style, and that once you’ve found yours, you’re not obliged to stick to it

If you’re struggling to find a style you can call your own, it can be very tempting to look at the people you consider to have “good” style (or simply at the ones who have very defined signature styles) and assume they were practically BORN like that: instinctively knowing what they like, what suits them, and with the confidence to wear what they want and not care what anyone has to say about it. Of course, that’s not actually true: it takes a lot of trial and error to arrive at a personal style you really love, and most of those women probably have plenty of fashion mis-steps to look back on, too. It’s also important to remember that style changes over time: what worked for you in your twenties may not work in your thirties or forties, say, and changes in job, location, or just taste can also have a big influence on your style. Don’t be afraid to change, evolve and experiment: not only will it help you discover the styles that work for you NOW, it’ll also help you understand when it’s time to make a change. You don’t actually NEED to have a signature style if you don’t want to. If, after trying on a few different looks, you decide that you like – and suit –  more than one of them, there’s nothing in the world to stop you changing your look as often as you like.

Do you have a very defined personal style? If so, how did you arrive at it?

Image © Shotsstudio | Dreamstime.com

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How to Look Good Fast

Do you ever look at those perfectly coiffed and made-up women you see on the morning commute and wonder how on EARTH they do it?

How do THEY find the time to apply a full face of makeup and create an elaborate hairdo every morning when YOU’RE still stumbling around wiping the sleep out of your eyes and wondering if there’s enough coffee in the world to wake you up? How come their clothes are never creased and their accessories are always perfectly chosen? What’s their secret, and how do you get in on it? Or, to put it more realistically: what’s their secret and how do you hack it? You’d much rather spend extra time in bed than get up at daybreak to perfect your appearance, after all, so what you really want to know is how to look good fast – but still look like you took your sweet time over it.

Here are some ways to do it…

how to look good in a hurry

How to Look Good Fast: the lazy girl’s guide to effortless style

The first thing you need to know about the pursuit of effortless style is that there is no easy way to achieve it. Because there really IS no such thing as “effortless” style – for most of us, at least. Oh, there’ll always be those lucky creatures who can roll out of bed, throw on the first thing thing they find on the bedroom floor and STILL look fantastic, but those people are few and far between, and if you’re not one of them, you’re going to have to lay some groundwork first.

The bad news, then is that if you want to look good fast, and be effortlessly stylish… you’re going to have to put in some effort. The good news, however, is that you’ll only have to put in that effort once (or very occasionally), and pretty soon you’ll have a streamlined, failsafe routine which will allow you to look good fast. Most of the time. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

Be ruthless with your wardrobe

You might have noticed that a lot of our advice articles begin with the idea that you should clear out your closet (not in the Eminem sense, we hasten to add. There’s a very good reason for that, though: we’re big fans of the closet clearout, not because it keeps you in control of your clothes, and lets you see what you have, but because it can be really hard to look good fast when you’re drowning in a mountain of clothes and have to embark upon a house-wide search every morning just to find something suitable to wear. (And then, when you DO find it, you inevitably have to iron it, or remove some kind of stain from it, because its been lying balled up in the corner of the wardrobe for days, and it looks it.) Have a clear out, and be ruthless with it: make sure everything your left with is something you look and feel great in, so you’ll never have to waste precious minutes wondering if something suits you, because you know everything you own DOES.

Try to keep your clothes accessible

We’re not suggesting you turn your bedroom into a walk-in closet (although if it helps…), or hang your clothes on the walls like paintings: we can’t all have the closet space of Mariah Carey, after all. If it’s at all possible, though, try to make sure everything you wear is in easy reach, and is somewhere you can see it. Clothes that are stuck at the back of a drawer, or layered under half-a-dozen other items on a hanger will be hard to find, and easy to forget about. They’ll also be more likely to be creased beyond belief when you finally pull them out, meaning you have to spend precious sleep time on ironing. Our best tip is to try to hang, rather than fold, as many of your clothes as possible, even if it means fitting an extra rail in your wardrobe or investing in a freestanding dress-rail. Hanging clothes are easier to organise, easier to see, and they tend to keep their shape better, meaning all you have to do is put them on: easy.

Repeat points 1 and 2 with your makeup, and any other products that are part of your daily routine

Bulging makeup bag? Bathroom cabinet groaning under the weight of all those products? Take the time to clear it all out: as with your closet, keep only those items you need, and keep them somewhere accessible, so you don’t have to spend time rummaging through every item you own every morning. If you really can’t bear to part with the products you only use occasionally, keep them separate from the ones you use every day by packing a second makeup/toilet bag with ONLY those products that are in constant rotation: you’ll still have the rest for when you have time to experiment, but when it comes to looking good fast, at least you’ll know exactly what to reach for.

Develop a uniform

We’ve written before about our love of signature styles and fashion “uniforms”, and while they’re definitely not for everyone, there’s no denying that developing a “uniform” of sorts will dramatically streamline your routine. Your uniform doesn’t have to mean owning seven identical shirts and seven identical skirts, and wearing exactly the same thing every single day, but rather working out which styles and colours work best for you, and work best with each other, and creating a “capsule” wardrobe based around those items. As with the makeup example, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to ditch everything that doesn’t fall within the guidelines of the “uniform”. It does help, however, to have a handful of go-to outfits which you know will look good on you, and to always have them at hand, whether that means keeping them in their own corner of the wardrobe, or taking them out of it altogether.

Perfect an easy-to-do hairstyle

Those elaborate hair-dos other women always seem to have aren’t always as complicated as they look. If you don’t want to spend a lot of time washing and styling your hair every morning, find an up-do that suits you, and learn how to do it in a hurry (if you’re stuck, ask your stylist for a quick lesson, or check out hair tutorials on You Tube). It might take a few attempts to get it right, but pretty soon you’ll be able to do it in your sleep – and won’t THAT save you a whole lot of time!

Buy some dry shampoo

No time for a shampoo and blow-dry? Dry shampoo rubs right into the roots and gets rid of grease in seconds. It’s cheap, too.

Get your eyelashes dyed and brows shaped

For those of you who don’t have time for even the pared-down makeup routine suggested above, there are plenty of other ways to look polished without any effort. If you have pale lashes, get them dyed (or learn how to do it yourself). If they’re very thin or short, you could also consider having them permed, or having individual false lashes applied, thus eliminating the need for mascara for a little while at least. Your browns, meanwhile, can completely change the look of your face, and if they’re overgrown and out of control, they will make your entire look less polished: if you don’t trust yourself to shape them yourself, have them done professionally (you can have them tinted too, at the same time) and then forget all about them for a few weeks.

Carry a bold lipstick which you can apply on the go

We’ve talked about this one before, but bold lips create the impression that you’ve made an effort, even when you haven’t. Choose a colour that works with your complexion, and a formula that’s easy to apply in a hurry: no high maintenance lipsticks which require careful outlining and application!

Finally, preparation is everything

You’ve heard this one before, but if you need to look good fast, it really helps if you get prepared first, either by choosing your outfit the night before, or setting aside an hour or so every week to go through your closet, try things on, put together outfits and make any small repairs that are needed. It might sound like a bit of a drag now, but trust us: you’ll be glad you did it tomorrow morning.

Image © Andrey Armyagov | Dreamstime.com

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How to Be Stylish… on any budget

How to be stylish on any budget

Dress: A|Wear

How to be stylish.

It’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? We may all define “style” in different ways, but most of us would (secretly or not-so-secretly) love to be stylish. It’s probably the reason you’re reading this article.

Here’s the bad news:

You can’t learn how to be stylish simply by buying the “right” clothes.

Style isn’t about what you buy, or what it costs. You can’t buy style in a store, or copy it from the catwalk, and it doesn’t matter how many dresses you own, or which designer name is stamped on your shoes. It just doesn’t work that way. That’s not, however, to say that style is impossible to come by: quite the opposite, in fact. Anyone can learn how to be stylish: here are some easy ways to do it – on any budget.

Don’t follow fashion

Yves Saint Laurent once said that fashions fade, but style is eternal. He was right: which is probably why this sentiment has been echoed so often, in so many different ways, by everyone from fashion designers and celebrities to …well, the rest of us. We’d like to echo it too, by saying that while fashion can be a whole lot of fun, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t experiment with it as much as you want to, ultimately it’s more important to develop your own style by working out what suits you, and what you like to wear. Think about it: the most stylish people in the world don’t tend to be slaves to the latest trends. They know that not all fashions suit all people, so rather than changing their look every season and always trying to keep up with the latest trends, they figure out what works for them, and then they pretty much stick to it, using fashion trends as a way to tweak or update their look, rather than dictate it. Develop your own style, don’t just copy someone else’s: that’s how to be stylish.

Man custom fitting dress on woman How to be stylish: don’t follow fashion

Know your figure

Are you an apple or a pear? A rectangle or a square? Sure, it sounds like one of those silly magazine quizzes, but a large part of knowing how to be stylish is knowing what your body looks like, and then figuring out how to dress it. As noted above, not all styles look good on all figures, so if you want to know how to be stylish, you’ll first of all have to know what you REALLY look like: not what you’d LIKE to look like. We don’t have the time or space in this article to list all of the different body types and how to dress them, but you’ll find plenty of advice online that will help you dress for your body shape.

Buy clothes that fit: or have them altered

This tip sounds so obvious is barely worth stating, but how often have you seen people crammed into clothes that are clearly too small, or drowning in the excess fabric of a dress that’s just too big? Ill-fitting clothing is one of the fastest ways to look sloppy and unstylish, and even the most expensive clothes in the world will look bad if the fit is off. Finding the perfect fit is the holy grail of how to be stylish, and as we’re sure you already know, it can be easier said than done. if you’re struggling, however:

      • heartTry on different sizes
      • Don’t just assume you know your size: clothing sizes differ from brand to brand, and even from item to item, so take a range of sizes into the fitting room, and try them all on.
      • heartDon’t be ashamed to size up if necessary
      • Dress size is simply a number – and given the inconsistencies in sizing these days, not to mention the vanity-sizing that’s rife throughout the fashion industry, it’s a pretty meaningless number at that. Don’t be ashamed to size up: the only person who’ll know – or care – is you.
      • heartStill struggling to find the right fit? Learn to sew, or pay someone else to do it for you
      • Sometimes it really doesn’t matter how many items you try on: none of them will fit. When that happens, you need to consider one of two options: either alter the item yourself, or pay someone to do it for you. Now, given that this article promises to show you how to be stylish on any budget, we’re reluctant to suggest that having items custom-made is the only solution for those of us who can’t find the right fit off the peg, but actually, you might be surprised how cost-effective it can be to have a garment altered or even made from scratch. (And even if the cost is the same as buying it ready-made, at least you end up with something that fits like it was made for you: because it WAS…) If all else fails, simple alterations such as taking up a hem or changing the length of sleeves aren’t difficult to master, and will be well worth learning in the long run.

Two stylish woman walking down catwalk spraying perfume

Keep your clothes clean, ironed and well-mended

We hate to sound like your mother here, but all this “Oh, I don’t own an iron!” business? Enough with that, already. If you want to know how to be stylish, you’re going to have to get over your aversion to ironing, and you might also want to learn how to replace the odd button, too (see above). It also goes without saying that clean clothes are a style essential: you could be wearing Dior Couture, hand-made to fit you perfectly, but if that dress is dirty, creased and in need of repair, it may as well be from Primark. Keep your clothes in a good state of repair, and when they get BEYOND repair, get rid of them: you don’t need a closet full of brand new clothes to look stylish, but if your outfits look like they could walk to the bin by themselves, it might be better to just let them.

Be well-groomed

No one is suggesting that you need a ton of makeup and a professional blow-out every day in order to look stylish, but keeping your hair clean and trimmed (if not necessarily styled to perfection), your nails neat (you don’t need a professional manicure, just get rid of hangnails and rough edges, and keep them clean) and your makeup carefully applied (if you wear it) will go a long way. If you do wear makeup, a “less is more” approach is a good starting point when it comes to looking stylish. If you have the skill to create more elaborate looks – and you know they suit you – then by all means, go for it, but too much heavy makeup, especially if it’s badly applied is another easy way to ruin your look.

Keep it simple

You may be rolling your eyes here and muttering the word “boooooring!” under your breath, but simple doesn’t have to be boring, and there are good reasons why some of the most stylish looks are also the simplest: think of Audrey Hepburn in a pair of black capri pants and a sweater, or Marilyn’s famous white dress. These kind of back-to-basics outfits may not set your heart racing (and don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you wear them ALL the time: you still get to have some fun), but they’re easy to wear, and hard to get wrong: accessories are a great way to update an outfit or add interest to something plain, but generally speaking, the more elaborate your look, the easier it’ll be for it to start to look messy and incoherent – the opposite of “stylish”, in other words.

Woman dressing classically in a blue dress

How to be stylish: keep it simple

Know your comfort level

Fashion magazines and those who live by them are always telling us to stray outside our comfort zone: to take risks, be edgy and experiment fearlessly with fashion. That’s all well and good, and worth trying from time to time (you want to be stylish, after all, not stuck in  a style rut), but this article is about how to be stylish, not how to be an edgy fashionista, and one easy way to be stylish is to know what you’re comfortable wearing: and, more importantly, what you’re NOT comfortable wearing. Apologetic dressing NEVER looks stylish, i.e. if YOU don’t like what you’re wearing, it’s unlikely anyone else will, either. When you’re thinking about how to be stylish, one of the most important things you can be is comfortable. By that we don’t mean you should be wearing Uggs and sweatpants (Perish the thought), but simply that you should feel fantastic, regardless of what you’re wearing. Everyone’s comfort level is different: if you feel at your best in avant-garde fashion, then great: wear it with pride. If you don’t, however, don’t try to force yourself to wear something you’re not totally sure about: it’s impossible to look stylish if you’re constantly tugging down your hem, pulling up your top, or worrying about whether your dress is too tight.

Dress appropriately

It would be wonderful if we could all just wear whatever we wanted to, wherever we wanted to, but all clothing has a context, and it’s important to make sure YOUR clothing matches the context you’re wearing it in. That doesn’t have to mean rigidly adhering to some imagined dress code or set of rules: it means not wearing sweatpants to someone’s wedding, high heels for a walk in the countryside, a ball-gown to your nephew’s first birthday party, or a flimsy sundress in the snow. All of these outfits would be inappropriate for the occasion, and that means that regardless of how “nice” they look in themselves, they will not seem stylish. You want to know how to be stylish under any circumstances? Make sure you’re dressed appropriately for the occasion, and neither trying too hard, or not hard enough. It’s as simple (or as difficult) as that.

 Finally, if you really want to know how to be stylish…

… don’t listen to The Fashion Police.

We know: it’s rich coming from us, huh? We’re serious, though: while we all enjoy discussing fashion trends, and poking gentle fun at the  more outlandish items out there, there really is no right or wrong when it comes to style. As cheesy as it sounds (and boy, does it sound cheesy!) the easiest way to look effortlessly stylish is to be yourself, and have confidence in what you’re wearing.

[Images: PRPhotos.com]
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Winter Wardrobe Essentials for Women

winter wardrobe essentials for women

[winter wardrobe essentials available at Oliver Bonas]

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about the so-called “wardrobe essentials” we DON’T really need, and then we asked you to tell us about the ones you DO.

Now, having consulted your suggestions and noted the common themes, we’re pleased to present The Fashion Police’s own list of what REALLY constitutes a “wardrobe essential”. Just to keep things simple, we’re sticking to one season at a time – in this case, winter – and before we go any further, we want to add a quick disclaimer to say that these are simply the items which were suggested most often by our readers: obviously not every woman is the same, so you may find that your essentials are completely different, in which case we’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Read on for our list of Winter Wardrobe Essentials for Woman – as suggested by Fashion Police readers!

1. The Winter Coat

This was always going to be number one, wasn’t it? Unless you’re lucky enough to live in the type of climate which offers year-round warmth, it’s hard to get anywhere in winter without the services of a thick winter coat. Because this is the item you’ll wear every day, all season, a good coat is worth investing in, and we think it’s also worth picking something versatile enough to go with all of the rest of your clothes: it might be tempting to go for a bold colour, to brighten up those dull days, but if you tend to always wear brightly coloured shoes too, you might find the two colours sometimes clash. That’s not to say you can’t go for lots of colour if you want to: just pick one that works with your wardrobe, and which you know you’ll be able to wear every day, for months on end, without getting sick of it. winter coats

Winter coats from Miss Selfridge

2. The weather-proof boots

Our readers were pretty much unanimous about the need for a sturdy pair of weatherproof boots or shoes in the winter months. Exactly what those boots or shoes might look like will depend on your lifestyle and the type of winter weather you typically get (If you generally find yourself ploughing through a foot of snow on the way to work every morning, snow boots will be essential, but if you live in a city where snow is rare, you should be able to get away with a wider variety of footwear. Low or flat heels were also mentioned frequently: as much as we love our stilettos, we have to agree that they’re not much use in the snow, and positively lethal on ice, so leave them at home or carry them in your bag to change into once you’re indoors.

3. Hats, scarves and gloves

You already knew these were winter essentials, but they’re also an easy – and generally affordable way – to smarten up that winter coat and make it a little more interesting.

4. Jeans or warm trousers

We have a feeling this may be a slightly controversial one. Many of readers said they consider jeans to be a winter wardrobe essential, but we also know many of you hate jeans (or just can’t find the right fit) and never wear them, so we’ve expanded this category to include any kind of warm, hardwearing trousers: cords, for instance, are great in winter, as are tweed pants or even velvet. As for those of you who never wear anything with trousers…

5. Jersey dresses

Indispensable to dress-lovers in cold climates, jersey dresses can be casual or formal as required, and come in almost every shape and shade imaginable, from 50s-style fit n’ flare shapes to simple shifts. When it’s really cold out, you’re probably not going to want to wear them with bare legs, like the model shown above, which brings us to…

6. Leggings/Opaque tights

We’ve lumped these two into one category, because while some of you can’t live without your trusty opaque tights, others insist that leggings are thicker, comfortable and more versatile. Personally, we’re on the side of leggings with this one (We don’t need to point out that we’re ONLY on the side of leggings when they’re not being worn as pants, do we?), but either option will work just as well.

7. A selection of sweaters

Ah, sweaters. At this time of year, we rarely see the words “winter fashion” written down without the words “cosy sweater” somewhere in the vicinity. As with everything else on this list, there’s no single type of sweater that will work for, or be useful to everyone: if you want to get through the winter in warmth, choose a selection of fine-knits (good for work, or for layering under other pieces) and chunkier styles for the colder more casual days.

So: what did we forget?