1 The non-flirt skirt
Cool girls don’t roll their skirts up these days, they tug them down. The first thing you need to get your head around in order to have a fashionable spring is that the clothes aren’t sexy. You, as in the actual person, are of course still radiant with irresistible natural sex appeal, but a fashionable wardrobe is not a flirty one right now. Cleavage has been over for ages, and now it’s time to put your legs away, too. The alpha hemline is a good 2in below the knee. Think of the midi skirt as a replacement for the cocktail trouser, and make it fancy. The Whistles Ellie Colour Block skirt was getting a lot of frow love at the shows. This is an excellent transitional piece teamed with ankle boots for those weeks when the weather can’t make its mind up.
2 The bomber jacket
To be honest, you could run into any high-street store, find a bomber jacket within two metres of the entrance, buy it, go home and you’d be passably on trend for the entire season. This is the Betty Crocker Cake Mix of Spring 2014: instant gratification for next-to-no effort. What are you waiting for? Possibly, you are saving up for the Jonathan Saunders Real Thing Holy Grail, in which case good on you and bon appetit for those packed lunches. But you will be spoilt for choice on the high street: look for colour, texture, something more fashion than straight-up sportswear. And most importantly, wear it right: not with jeans, but to add jazziness to your midi-skirt (see above) and as the season’s coolest party-dress cover-up.
3 The 90s slip dress
The spaghetti strap is back. Flimsy, nightie-weight dresses are this summer’s new take on a 90s revival that seems to have been going on for longer than the actual decade. Kate Moss in the Johnny Depp years is your style reference here. Warm up by swapping the cotton tanks you wore under jackets for lace-edged silk camisoles peeking out from the aforementioned bomber jacket. When you’ve got the courage (read: fake tan) for a dress, add a pale duster coat for this season’s alpha wedding-guest look.
4 Duster coat
If you like, you can think about your new look like this: nothing should end at bum-length any more (unless you are deliberately channelling Normcore, that is). Your jackets and sweaters should either be cropped to the waist, or extending down at least to the upper thigh. The hipbone-to-bottom hemline – ie the place where normal tops end – is for the masses. A duster coat was originally a loose, long-ish light worn over your nice clothes to protect them from dirt-road dust while on a horse or open-top car, a function that is still useful on public transport. A practical spring (and summer evening) option, and so much grander than a blazer.
5 The useful bag
In the heat of the It bag wars, the notion of practicality got lost. Trophy bags became an end in themselves, and we forgot that bags are supposed to be for carrying stuff in, not just for carrying. The popularity of the cross-body bag proved the eternal appeal of bags that don’t give you backache – funny, that – but the trouble with the cross-body is that small versions look great, but a huge cross-body bag looks as if you are selling the local paper. Finally, Karl himself has come to the rescue, putting the rucksack back on the Chanel catwalk, and therefore back on to every high-street shop floor.
6. The slouch trouser
Here’s the way to spot a this-season trouser shape: it will work with pool slider sandals. Doesn’t matter if you’re not going to wear pool sliders – I’m definitely not, are you insane? – the trousers (slouchy, but fancy) that work with them are the ones you need now. The bright, cropped cocktail trouser is no longer on the fashion frontline. It’s now more of a Sunday-cinema-outing look than a Saturday-night special. (Skinny jeans and pointy courts, by the way, which until recently was a fall-back chic combination, eg for travelling on Eurostar to the Paris shows, is now irredeemably Chiswick wine bar.)
7. The grown-up crop top
Don’t panic. No one is suggesting actual abdomen is bared here. Well, actually, lots of fashion pages are, but we are not, which is just one reason why you would do well to stick with us. The mature take on the crop top is a shirt or sweater that is lopped off at the waist. You don’t want a cinched waistband: you want the effect of a longer top from which you have sliced off the bottom few inches. Wear with your slouch trousers, or your non-flirt skirt. The Autograph Polo Neck Textured Cropped Jumper from M&S was an understated staple of many a fashion-week wardrobe.
8. Challenging flat shoes
Do not be seen dead in ballet pumps. Sorry. Just because flats are now more alpha than heels, do not assume anything goes, because nothing could be further from the truth. This season’s flat shoes are aesthetically challenging. The pool slider sandal is the ultimate in style points, while the new era of hi-tops and trainers are crucially wedge-free. (Even Isabel Marant has pronounced herself over the wedge.) Dress for attitude and walking speed, and learn to love your chunky calves.
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