I have a friend, let’s call her Sarah (her full name of Sarah From The Pub is too much of a mouthful), who is off on a trip so full of promise and excitement that it is almost impossible to imagine how she might put together a wardrobe excellent enough to do it justice. There are several factors to consider: it will be the run up to the festive period, she will also be in South Africa but most importantly of all it is a rekindled romance (quite partial to those), for which everything must be perfect.
And so I got to thinking about how much fabulousness you could pack (neatly) into a suitcase, not only to cover every eventuality but also to appear effortlessly stylish and gorgeous rather than, you know, as if you’re desperately trying to emulate Kate Middleton on a royal tour. It’s a dilemma I identify with as I spend weekdays in one place and weekends in another. I don’t have wardrobes in both places (not being the Queen an’ all) and more often than not I am packing in a rush with little or no idea of what the London weather might do. So I tend to pack for two seasons just in case. And as I would rather stay at home than be stranded with no dressy shoes for an impromptu night out, usually I bung in a pair of those too.
It is mid November and it isn’t even cold enough for serious layering yet but as we know that could change at any moment. The easiest solution is to dress in jeans and a jacket and keep a spare pair of shoes at work but that’s oh so boring. While we’re still dealing with mild weather and hurtling closer to party season every day, what’s required is a few key pieces to update, enhance and generally mash up your existing wardrobe without breaking either the bank or a sweat. Yes ladies and gentlemen, I think what we’re talking about is Accessorising.
Let’s start at the top. Hats, turbans, hair bands, fluffy ears, you name it, it’s out there on the high street. Now I’ve met Sarah Jessica Parker so I know she has a small head which is why the hat in this picture looks roomy and therefore cool. I have a big head as I’ve mentioned before, headwear gives me a headache and yet still I love it! This is why I’m seriously considering turbans – currently available at Zara – because they’re comfortable, if louche. Cashmere hats also definitely worth having and done by everyone from Brora to H&M. Bonus points for easily squishing into a bag or pocket – a trilby or bowler, not so much.
Scarves are bigger than ever this winter and in more ways than one. I’m a bit crap at arranging my scarf cleverly but if you’re ever passing the Liberty scarf hall, get one of the assistants there to show you a few tricks – you will be inspired! The French have scarf tying down to a fine art. I couldn’t decide which image to go for so I’ve chosen a simple one to show that with scarves, well, even if you just plonk it there, it finishes off an outfit.
At this time of year particularly, jewellery is the go-to accessory for dressing up a tired outfit. Currently there’s enormous choice for every taste. For every statement piece there is something delicate and understated, for every silver thing, there is something else in gold. Kate Moss will always rock a slightly hippyish vibe and the vintage looking styles she chooses are subtle rather than bling. She is the master of effortless dressing and clearly lives by Coco Chanel’s tip about removing one accessory before leaving the house. In this picture of Mossy, that one thing appears to be her bra. This beautiful charm necklace was made bespoke for me and is from lovely new jewellery site SophieLutz.com. You can choose the crystal, the metal and the charm depending what area of your life needs attention. Sadly they don’t have a charm for dealing with errant landlords. Yet.
Sienna Miller on the other hand is all about the hair cut and what better to highlight a new do than some chandelier earrings? If you’re still thinking big old danglers are a bit Bet Lynch then stop right there and look at Sienna. You’ll need to play down everything else, that’s true, even your hair will need to be incidental, but look how glowing she is, see how happy she looks – it’s the earrings I tell you!
Finally, I know what you’re thinking – that the red Aldo shoe is slutty – and you’d be right. But the more sensible and covered up the outfit, the more risk you can take with your footwear. See Olivia Palermo for a perfect example. If you changed the classy dress to hot pants and a boob tube then yes, you’re going to resemble a hooker but styled like O.P. you’re simply jazzing up what might otherwise look old ladyish. It would be a crime to put failsafe black shoes with this dress, don’t do it! Life is short and black shoes are so often the answer. When they’re not necessarily the answer, be bold. And remember, in the words of the great Patsy Stone, “You can never have too many hats, scarves and gloves”. Or shoes.*
*That last bit comes from me.