Where is the Sunshine?

I actually wore a puffa jacket last week. It was freezing cold, teeming with rain and I was wishing I hadn’t put my boots away for the summer. As I gripped the handle of my umbrella and searched in my pocket for gloves I began to wonder what would happen to my style credentials if anyone had seen me. Where on earth were my spring predictions for this year? What were people actually wearing under their coats and jumpers? And is it possible to look good in this summer’s fashion when the temperature’s down to 14 degrees?

Soggy but Persevering

In a summer that’s seen Kate Moss and Lily Allen in opaque tights, and the Duchess of Cambridge wedded to American tan tights, we can all be forgiven for making concessions to the weather. However the fashionistas are all working hard to make summer style work, so I think we mere mortals can follow the tips below and give it a go.

1. The Maxi – this is a great solution to a multitude of fashion problems as no-one knows – or particularly cares – what’s underneath it. Sadly a lot of maxi dresses are cool on top, so team with a denim jacket or cashmere cardigan. Alternatively invest in a soft leather biker jacket or fringed suede jacket – guaranteed to take you through to autumn.

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2. Denim – looking at yet another great British summer it’s pretty easy to tell why this is a trend that hangs on in there. Long jeans are problematic this time of year, so go for a cropped version or roll up those skinnies and wear with a pair of Converses or ballet pumps. There are still lots of rainbow brights in the shops so choose denim in strong summer colours – cobalt blue, bright pink or orange – still warm but with a fashion edge. Denim jackets make a super accessory to those troublesome maxis or teamed with prints, but this summer they are short and cropped.

3. Mixed Prints – there’s something very English about prints. I think that we, like our mothers, have learned they can be teamed with warm tights, wellies and a cardigan, and see us through the worst of summers. This season you can take the same approach – but look at both fruity and flowery fashion prints and pair with one of this summer’s jackets.

4. Seventies Hippy – I wasn’t sure if this look would stick, with all the lovely summer brights available but it seems to have adapted well to the dreary weather. Instead of being worn head to toe, the odd embroidered piece – a long shirt, a maxi skirt or a waistcoat – are being chosen to add zing (and warmth) to those wardrobe essentials.

5. Jumpsuits – these have proved a lot more popular than I believed possible, featuring little strappy tops and flowing pants. The same rules apply as for maxis – just don’t go for too heavy a jacket as jumpsuits can be easily swamped by other strong styles.

6. Nudes/Neutrals – after the royal wedding this is a trend that will run and run. Easier to wear than white or cream and very receptive to layering, the nude trend is an ideal way to ignore the English weather. Accessorise with some jewellery and maybe a trench for the worst of the weather and you simply can’t go wrong. Just make sure you choose the right tone for your own colouring as neutrals can range across the colour spectrum.

Rained Off

Sadly a lot of my favourite trends haven’t stood up to the weather. It’s totally illogical but the beautiful strong and vibrant colours we saw on the catwalks don’t seem to have made it onto the streets. We are seeing a few bolder colour combinations – red and pinks, pinks and oranges but not the full on colour blocking we were promised. With leaden skies and biting winds I don’t think any of us really felt like wearing bright colours. As a plus, if these are good colours for you, look in the sales for some bargains!

The candy stripes too don’t seem to have taken off, and whilst the magazines are still talking about lace I haven’t seen a lot of it – maybe it’s all those holes for the cold to get through.  White was strongly predicted on the catwalks and Next was full of it, but it’s a tricky trend and the weather killed it before it really got going. It seems that with the summer weather we are having, everyone is sticking to casual wear as much as possible, venturing into smart territory only when work or social pressures dictate.

The Sun’s Coming Out

With August and September ahead of us and a trip abroad for many there is at least some hope. “Island fashion” is new on the racks with palm tree prints and honey tones contrasting with brightly coloured tropical flowers and foliage. Little shorts are now popular – in denim, florals or cut-out suede. We’re also seeing crop tops (heaven forbid) and fringing has migrated from bags to all forms of clothing.

Fashion is all about reinvention, so don’t worry if the weather has undermined your summer wardrobe. Look at new ways to wear those spring purchases and start planning how to incorporate those neglected star buys into your holiday capsule wardrobe.

Surviving the Summer – 2011 Style