Don’t we love the British summer? This year it has come too early, last year it was too late. Lovely though spring has been, choosing what to wear has been a nightmare. We’ve had blistering heat and freezing cold all in the same day – and those rain clouds are constantly looming. That wonderful summer collection is waiting in the wardrobe but it never seems quite the right time to get it out.
Of course, as with any fashion dilemma the answer is planning. Those strappy dresses and sleeveless tops can all be worn at any time – provided you have the right cover up. Pull out all those summer clothes you aren’t wearing – lay them on the bed, and follow the style tips below.
There are two main reasons to wear a cover up – for looks or for warmth. It’s important to know what job you want it to do. If you want it to stop the chill, it may well spend all day over your arm, but if it’s to cover up those upper arms or to hide bra straps then it needs to be an integral part of your outfit. Summer cover ups are a supporting feature and need to be chosen carefully not to eclipse the main act. And remember – you will need to invest in a few carefully chosen pieces as you’ll never find one that goes with everything, honest!
Jackets – whereas winter jackets are a style statement and certainly aren’t for taking off, summer cover-ups can spend all day over a chair. Use them to accent the style you want to adopt – Classic stripes for simple chic, denim looks great with florals for biker chic or go for the festival look and wear a modern Barbour with a maxi. Linen can give a sharper look and the ubiquitous boyfriend jacket looks classic with jeans and a t shirt.
Cardigans – again think what look you want to achieve. Little round necked cardis with three quarter sleeves add the fifties look to a prom dress, whereas a long boyfriend number can be used to tone down a maxi for everyday wear. The shops are full of waterfall, drapy cardigans which can be fantastic for all body shapes – the main rule is – the longer the cardi the less likely it will look good with a skirt.
Look at the waistline of your outfit and choose your style accordingly. Now is the time to be brave – don’t go matchy matchy – try a contrasting colour, or one with the same tones. When you’re feeling cold and have a warm option you’ll forget you’re making a style statement.
Shrugs – these aren’t always the best option for keeping warm as they can leave a lot of décolletage freezing. They also put your outfit firmly into the dressy category. However there are some dresses that really don’t suit anything else so go for a long sleeved option, however, be careful as the wrong shrug can absolutely kill an outfit. If you are busty or short waisted be very careful!!
The Pashmina – don’t we love it! They keep telling us it’s going away but we won’t let it. Like Sam Cam at the Royal Wedding we know there’s nothing more unobtrusive off and nothing cosier on. However you want it to be warm and you don’t want it to crease when it’s stuffed under a chair so buy the best quality you can afford (the less silk content the better). Choose great colours and have fun contrasting them with your outfit.
Style tip – remember, whatever you choose, your outfit needs to work without the cover up
In many ways choosing a cover up to look good with a specific outfit is far easier than trying to find the perfect summer warmer. You need to know what looks good on you, whether you’re dressing your outfit up or down and how the lengths layer. But you also need it to act as a foil for your outfit, and not take it over.
The Shrug (again) – stores are making it easy for us with almost every outfit paired with a matching shrug, and for the perfectly figured that’s great. However don’t be fooled. As with all deceptively simple items of clothing, the slightest variation in cut, fabric, and neckline can make all the difference between a flattering layer or looking like a cat is hugging your shoulders. Try on lots of styles, and when you know what looks good, only then pair with your outfit.
The short sleeved cardigan – there’s a lot of these around at the moment and I still don’t know what to call them. Short sleeved, fluid and made of the finest knitwear, they are a great option for those who can’t wear a shrug. They lengthen the body, reduce the bust and hide arms – no wonder they are so popular.
The scarf – if you like the flowing look avoid a pashmina as they really aren’t easy to keep around the shoulders all night. Instead chose a wide silk scarf or wrap, and search the internet for wonderful ways of draping it. Again go for contrasting colours – this is such an easy way to colour block. Alternatively visit a sari shop and choose a silk to accent your outfit.
In the meantime I’ll keep looking for the perfect summer cover up which goes with every outfit, suits every figure and battles cool summer evenings!