We may be on the brink of an exciting new fashion season, but before you rush out to snap up spring trends, take stock of your stuff and have a style rethink with the help of this five-step guide.
1. Overhaul your wardrobe
Since time is the ultimate luxury, the easiest and most effective way to overhaul your wardrobe is to pay for a professional to come round and do it for you.
The company Designer Alterations offers a "wardrobe rehab" service whereby director Julia Dee and her team of consultants will come to your home and offer a range of services, such as commissioning a bespoke cabinet, advice on how to make the most of storage space, dry-cleaning and alterations. She can also organise for unwanted clothes to be sold on eBay, while people with limited space or epic clothing collections can rent a rail in a storage unit for winter clothes. Once the clothes are in tip-top condition, they are packed away in individual moth-proof, breathable garment bags, in a damp-free environment.
The standard cost for a two-day wardrobe rehab (within the M25), including preparation and reorganisation, is 600. Call 020-7498 4360 for details, or visit the website www.designeralterations.com, where you can also buy accessories, such as cashmere storage bags and genuinely fragrant anti-moth products.
If you can't stretch to paying for the full service, or don't think that life is too short to reorganise your sock drawer yourself, Julia Dee has the following tips on overhauling your storage.
* If you put anything new in your wardrobe, one old piece needs to come out.
* Don't put dirty clothes back in your closet as they will attract moths.
* Before buying a new wardrobe, count your clothes and measure them many people end up with wardrobes that are too short and too small.
2. Have old clothes repaired and 'refashioned'
It's always satisfying and so much more environmentally friendly to mend your clothes rather than chucking them out at the first sign of wear and tear.
Not everyone's sewing skills extend beyond patching up the odd hole. However, several companies will not only do basic mending but also sensitive alterations and "refashioning", ie turning something dated into something directional. In addition to a range of wardrobe-related services, the website www.bustingdiva.com offers alterations, refashioning and dress copying, and will come to your office or home. Prices vary, so call 020-7101 9313 for a quote.
The Dress Doctor, aka the seamstress Jo Poole, will come to your house and perform emergency surgery on items that need mending or revamping. She can shorten hems, change buttons, take clothes in or drastically restyle them by dyeing or reshaping to suit you. She can also provide styling advice while she works. Her service starts at 250 a day, within the M25, and along the M11 corridor up to Cambridge. She will travel further afield if there are several clients interested in the service. Call 07855 032 705.
3. Get some advice
If you find yourself returning to the same styles again and again, a personal shopper could help you to look at clothes afresh. Liberty, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and John Lewis all offer complimentary personal shopping services.
According to Rebecca Haynes, head of personal shopping at Harvey Nichols, the starting point to an appointment should be looking in your wardrobe and working out which pieces you want to wear but have nothing to match. You can then show them to the personal shopper who will find separates that complement them. In terms of creating a summer wardrobe, Haynes suggests acquiring key basics before tackling seasonal trends such as ruffles, florals and sheer fabric. Here are her tips on what to hang on to or invest in.
* A well-cut pair of summer-weight trousers in khaki, navy or camel, such as the ones by Paul Smith pictured above.
* A pair of summer jeans wide legs work best in hot weather. J Brand does good exaggerated flares, and its Love Story style has a flattering flare that kicks out from the knee.
* Lightweight cashmere and cotton knits make smarter basic tops than plain T-shirts. Try American brands such as Theory, Donna Karan and Michael Kors.
* Strappy thong sandals in bright colours or metallics are easy to wear and look right for spring/summer 2008. K Jacques does great summer flats.
* A lightweight summer jacket the temptation is to go for floaty fabrics, but bear in mind summer-weight fabrics with a tailored feel.
* A versatile summer dress there are lots of filmy florals around, but that doesn't mean that you can't choose something structured and understated in cotton or lightweight wool.
4. Look for unique pieces
Personalised clothes or accessories tend to be expensive, but there are affordable ways to buy them. The new website www.styleshake.com enables you to create an individual dress by choosing details such as the fabric, colour, neckline, sleeves, bodice and trimmings. It will then dispatch the finished design to you within 10 days.
If that sounds a bit like Fashion Wheel (a 1980s design-your-own-clothes toy, for those too young or old to remember) it is, only with more sophisticated results, provided you are equipped with good taste. Other people's designs are displayed in a gallery and rated by fellow users, and the results range from Margaret Howell-esque simplicity to some more "challenging" creations. There is currently a sale on, with dresses at 99.
The ballet-shoe company Pretty Ballerinas (020-7245 0895), below, is launching a bespoke service at its Pont Street shop from tomorrow, with a huge range of pump shapes, materials, colours, trims, linings and soles that can be combined to create a unique shoe. Prices start at 225.
Now that virtually everyone is after vintage clothing, it's becoming harder to find retro bargains or even interesting retro pieces that aren't very expensive. Kerry Taylor Auctions holds specialist sales of vintage couture and designer clothing by everyone from Christian Dior to Ossie Clark, in association with Sotheby's, but its studio sales offer a chance to find more affordable vintage pieces. You can buy a half- rail of clothes for around 200-300, and single items and accessories start at just 10. The firm often sells vintage Herms bags, and, unlike on eBay, their authenticity is guaranteed so they are also a good investment. Visit www.kerrytaylorauctions.com for details of forthcoming sales, or call 020-8676 4600.
5. Swap the high street for boutique designers
Last year, our relationship with fast fashion began to sour. Not only is it ethically iffy, it also makes looking individual almost impossible. If you can't afford to start buying big designer labels, then finding niche, mid-priced designers where a dress is about 300 is a good alternative, and it's a rapidly growing area.
The boutique CoChineChine in Hampstead (020-7435 9377) stocks several unusual labels, including Les Prairies de Paris, a French label with a quirky, Left Bank feel, alongside better-known brands such as Marc by Marc Jacobs and Sonia Rykiel.
For spring/summer, its buyer Melanie Chan recommends the labels Sea, by a new American designer who specialises in vintage-inspired dresses for around 300; Minimarket, a Swedish casual brand that specialises in such wardrobe staples as shirt- and jersey dresses; and Disaya formerly known as Boudoir by Disaya, which creates pretty clothes, sometimes with a subversive edge. The label will also be available at Harrods this season.
Also, John Lewis, better known for its sensible basics, has even introduced a "design collective" area stocking five up-and-coming designers from around the world.Reuse content