High-street heroes: The best affordable buys for autumn
This autumn brings new shapes and a sleek, grown-up silhouette, but there's no need to spend a fortune to get the look. Harriet Walker picks the best affordable buys
Monday 09 August 2010
Bid a fervent farewell to the novelty retro garb of last year's Eighties revival this autumn, and likewise to the fiercely sculpted statement pieces that the likes of Lady Gaga convinced us were a good idea. The new look is cleaned up and grown-up, but not staid.
One of the biggest influences is the recent resurgence of minimalism on the catwalks, recalling, but not quite recreating, the purism of the Nineties with sporty, streamlined silhouettes in a palette of grey, stone, navy and camel.
The modern version owes much to luxuriant texture and stark but fluid structure, so look out for plain boiled wool and soft leather pieces, such as Wallis's A-line skirt and Marks & Spencer's dress, which both come in eminently current buttery shades. Team with simple knits, cocoon coats and a pair of sturdy boots for the last word in modern, minimal chic. COS's slate-grey coat is the perfect balance of sci-fi simplicity and fuss-free frilliness, and is a great way of softening an otherwise austere ensemble.
If you're anxious about head-to-toe neutral shades, liven things up by picking from the rosier end of the spectrum, which ties in perfectly with the vogue for an uptown, ladylike and rather groomed look. Putty and blush pinks remain in the limelight, and are the perfect accompaniment to the camel tones that were so ubiquitous in the collections and will soon be taking over the shops. Those of sallow complexion beware – be sure to choose a slightly lighter beige shade. Topshop's cape is a perfect, none-too-harsh blend, while COS's blazer-style cape in deep burnt sienna is a directional take on the season's obsession with classic tailoring.
Capes are the garment du jour and they come in all shapes and sizes for autumn, from structured suiting via jersey and military styles to arctic knits. Wear atop skinny jeans or cigarette pants to balance out the volume.
Trousers too are the Next Big Thing, even the bootcut. Gap's Premium Pant collection offers various styles, from the Relaxed Crop to the Perfect Trouser – a modern reinvention of the kick flare in grey wool. A narrow or straight-leg pair is best for the slightly mod feel that pervades the season, to be worn with the perennial Breton top or a fitted blazer. Banana Republic's shrunken version trimmed with chiffon offers a bit of deconstructed urban glamour.
That's not to say that dresses have disappeared – long, narrow maxidresses are big news, but be sure to toughen them up with boots and leather jackets. They need to be grungy rather than glamorous.
Whistles' stretchy red skater dress is a bold way to incorporate one of autumn's more statement looks. Finally, aviator-inspired pieces, from jackets to trapper hats, will top off your new outfit a treat; anything with adorned with sheepskin is a must. Only then will your autumn look be cleared for take-off.
As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”
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