Style file: A fashionable set of separates

Summer’s flurry of formal events can mean a dented bank balance, but mixing and matching printed separates is the smart way to get more mileage out of outfits, says Holly Swayne

The co-ordinated looks of the season offer a fresh approach to occasion dressing - who said matchy-matchy was naff? Right now it’s anything but. Co-ordinated separates were a key look on the spring/summer 14 catwalks, Burberry Prorsum showed them in the form of button-up shirts with matching below-the-knee skirts – strict in silhouette but crafted from barely-there lace scattered with rhinestones to add effortless sex appeal. Jil Sander also revived the matching set, giving it a cool futurism thanks to tailored crop tops with sculpted skirts in clean, ice-white hues.

Those wishing to really stand out should try co-ords of the printed variety. The designers at Peter Pilotto have long been masters in look-at-me patterns and this season saw them adorn full skirts and shell tops with dynamic, dappled prints inspired by the work of the LA ceramicist Ken Price.

Floral and tropical prints were also a favourite this season - everyone from Marc Jacobs to Emporio Armani experimented with fun palm motifs on top and bottom, while Stella McCartney gave the trouser suit a new lease of life with head-to-toe monochrome daisies in silky jacquard.

Finding the look on the high street is easy. Head to Cos for smart tailored sets that will take you from work to wedding, while Whistles’ feather-print organza offers something a little more romantic.

 

Don’t let the cropped length of many tops put you off - these will usually reveal just a hint of skin as skirts are designed to sit high on the waist, ensuring you’re suitably covered up enough for all but the most conservative affairs. And the beauty of doing the double means that each item can be incorporated into your wardrobe separately, making it a much more versatile option than a similar dress. Whatever the fixture or function, count on co-ords to leave you feeling fashionably formal this summer.

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