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Instant Sunshine: The hottest summer trends

Don’t let the change of seasons catch your wardrobe unawares. Gemma Hayward selects the hottest summer trends about to land on the high street

Over the next couple of weeks you may notice a few changes on the high street, as the high summer drops arrive in the stores.

We’re entering the next phase of the season – known in the industry as “high summer”, but as just “a bit warmer” to the layman – so shops will soon be awash with sundresses, flip-flops and beach bags. For those sick to death of nautical stripes and shoulder-padded blazers, now is the time to embrace a new look and start dressing with the weather in mind. Denim is the big story of year so far and is set to reign long into the summer, but don’t worry about it being stiff and stuffy, as many retailers have worked in a lightweight version of the fabric, perfect for hotter climes. Topshop’s skimpy denim shorts caught our eye – what better companion for a plain white T-shirt on a trip to the beach? Look out too for Topshop’s pretty frilled bikinis, set to be another holiday essential.

Landing in French Connection’s nationwide stores this week is a brilliant denim dress complete with thin rope straps and a very of-the-moment softly draped silhouette. Marks & Spencer’s denim is also looking good right now – check out their Limited Collection acid-wash bolero which arrives this week – but they have also touched on other big trends of the summer: tomorrow sees the delivery of a blush-pink vest with seriously on-trend ruffles around the neck and arms. Taking inspiration from the catwalk, Mango has a sweet blue-gingham printed mini dress arriving this week, which would be ideal if the Christopher Kane version is out of your price range. Zara is offering their own take on Dolce & Gabbana’s rose prints with demure floral bodices, and New Look have also focussed on the underwear detailing that emerged in the spring/summer collections.

“This summer there is an air of reinvented girliness,” says their design director, Barbara Horspool, “with daywear spanning glorious ginghams through to sparkling sequins, and a significant nod to the underwear as outerwear trends.”

Off the catwalk and back into the real world, it’s time to start thinking about festivals – or more importantly what you are going to wear to them. There’s more to it at this preliminary stage than the age-old “to welly or not to welly?” dilemma, it’s about nailing a head-to-toe look. H&M have done all the hard work for you (and are doing great things for charity at the same time) and on 20 May will launch their Fashion Against AIDS campaign, which includes the first festival collection, with 25 per cent of sales going to youth HIV/AIDS awareness projects. With Lou Doillon and Lizzie Jagger fronting the campaign, you can expect interesting denim pieces, printed harem pants and vintage-inspired embellished jackets. Fingers crossed you won’t have to hide yours under a pac-a-mac. If your preferred summer mode is something more glamorous, try one of the many maxi dresses available. They can be hard to pull off – a busy floral empire-line one can make even the smallest of bottoms look huge – so go for a graphic print or a block colour: Warehouse’s offering, in dove-grey silk looks more elegant than elephant. But then again, a bit of sun is the perfect excuse for getting your legs out, and a short summery dress or skirt should be high on your shopping list. London hipster and designer Henry Holland’s fun new line for Debenhams includes a great vivid-yellow floral dress, or go a bit Fifties ice-cream parlour with Urban Outfitters’ pastel striped full skirt.

Accessories are important for finishing touches – just don’t make the mistake of loading yourself down with extras, or you risk looking like someone from Hollyoaks; summer style is about effortless and hassle-free nonchalance.

If you haven’t already heard, clogs are one of the season’s must-haves. Gap and Oasis both have reasonably priced pairs, and a tan-brown is the most versatile choice. Finish off your new summery look with some sunglasses: if you can find it in your heart to venture from your beloved Ray-Bans, then go large with the blushpink, Seventies-inspired frames arriving in Banana Republic on 12 May. The perfect compliment to your new denim dress or floral bustier.