High-street heroes: Six superstyles for spring

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

You may not have heard ofa "hero piece" before, but you'd know one if you saw one. It's the item within a seasonal collection that makes people stop, stare, copy and covet. The "hero" is the sartorial equivalent of a good-looking boyfriend: it makes you feel good, and is made more appealing because you know everyone else wants it too. It's Kate Moss's pansy-print blouse for Topshop, which sold out the same day it hit the stores, or Roland Mouret's Galaxy dress, as seen on Posh Spice and Demi Moore. The British designer, and supplier of It-bags to the A-list, Anya Hindmarch designates one item a hero in every range she unveils.

There's a reason hero pieces become so sought-after. As Rebekka May, the creative director of COS, a Swedish high-street chain that specialises in modern, minimal clothes, explains, "A hero piece tends to have a classic reference in cut or quality, but also a strong fashionable edge. That's what makes it a hero for the season and not just an overnight fling."

So, as the January sales finally dwindle, tired winter stock finally makes way for the eagerly awaited spring/summer lines. Last week was the first of what are known as "drop weeks", when new stock begins to arrive in-store and shoppers start thinking about longer daylight hours and the possibility of peeling off a layer or two. It's around now that the heroes start to make their presence known. Topshop's denim pinafore is a good example: dropping this month, it combines classic shape and bohemian charm with up-to-date and urban stonewash denim, set to be one of the biggest trends of this summer's 1980s revival. It's also something of a chameleon – try layering with different T-shirts and underskirts to give it a more eclectic look – and works well with short sleeves, long sleeves, tights or bare legs. Wielded correctly, a hero can reinvigorate the rest of a wardrobe.

This type of sartorial multitasking is not to be sniffed at, given recent shifts in our spending abilities. The hero may have more substance but it's not going to hit your wallet where it hurts. Take Jigsaw's striped Breton-style top, for example. For a little over £30 you get a staple beloved for many a season now. Or Gap's new skinny flare, the gentler sister of the ubiquitous skinny jean, "They're the ultimate leg-lengthener," claims the store's Anita Borzyszkowska. With change from £40 who can complain?

Other hero pieces are versions of classic shapes reinvented with unusual colouring or detailing. The high street may be awash with classic trenches right now, but it's Reiss's silvery-lilac version that stands out.

The hero at Banana Republic this season also looks like a winner. A platinum, draped goddess dress, made from silk jersey. The sporty fabric once again stops it getting too black tie, so you're buying an elegant cocktail dress, a laid-back sundress and a throw-on beach cover-up all in one. This hero's superpowers lie in the styling; as the brand's new creative director Simon Kneen points out, "It has the look of modern couture at an affordable price point – who doesn't want that?" We all do – and that's why these pieces are heroes among clothes.

1. Skinny flares, Gap, £39.50, tel: 0800 427 789

A modern, more forgiving alternative to the harshness of drainpipe jeans. "These are incredibly flattering," claims Gap's Anita Borzyszkowska. "They work well with a blazer or a boyfriend cardigan, and have a simple, timeless style that's relevant to this season and beyond."

2. Goddess dress, Banana Republic, £140, tel: 020 7758 3550

This works beautifully either in a bar or on a beach. "The economic climate has changed," says Banana Republic's creative director, Simon Kneen. "Bling and brash is out, subtle and sophisticated is in. A hero piece is so much more versatile when it's a modern take on a well-loved classic."

3. Stonewash pinafore, Topshop, £50, www.topshop.com

The 1980s denim revival is everywhere right now, from London's House of Holland to the catwalks at super-luxe French house Balmain. It's a tricky trend to pull off – especially if you were there first time round – but this pinafore is a classic shape which can be easily dressed up or down with layers and accessories.

4. Jersey jacket, COS, £79, www.cosstores.com

A grey jacket with deconstructed sleeves made from a super-modern fabric toned down slightly by the uncomplicated finish. "Customers want pieces that are on-trend without being faddish," says COS's creative director, Rebekka May. "The sleeve in combination with the basic sweat fabric makes it feel less serious, but it works equally well dressed up as part of a suit, or dressed down with a slouchy T-shirt and jeans."

5. Lilac trench, Reiss, £225, www.reiss.co.uk

A cool update of a staple that will never go out of fashion. "This is one statement item that stands out from the range as a must-have," explains Reiss's Emma Whitehair. "It can be a trend piece or a classic piece but always just feels exactly right for that particular season." This take on the classic mac is a spring essential.

6. Striped Breton top, Jigsaw, £34, www.jigsaw.co.uk

One of Jigsaw's key pieces this season. A modern classic which channels instant chic and insouciance. Wear with jeans and shorts or pep it up with a mannish blazer. This is a transeasonal treasure – you'll find yourself layering it under dresses or over T-shirts in cooler weather.

ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Voices
Ed Miliband and David Cameron are neck and neck in the polls
election 2015Armando Iannucci: on how British politics is broken
News
i100
Life and Style
Great minds like Einstein don't think alike
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Leeds

    £22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Leeds This i...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Bristol

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

    £13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power