The window between late-stage spring and the full dawning of summer is filled with endless joys: al fresco meals, ice-cold drinks in the sun, barbecues, the prospect of a proper beach holiday, and that delightful first outing in a floaty dress, sandals, raffia bag and little more. But Britain’s weather often has different ideas, keeping us on our (soggy) toes with spontaneous rainstorms and bouts of freezing cold – and making this between-seasons stretch a particularly tricky one to figure out style-wise.
This year, however, there’s something different in the air – and it’s not just an ominous drop of rain. Having spent the best part of two years largely stuck indoors, lamenting the lack of events, social engagements and opportunities to ‘dress up’, my once-barren calendar is filling again at an alarming pace and I’m struggling to keep up – in the dressing department above all.
On the one hand, there’s the voice telling me to make the most of this hard-won freedom and embrace the joys of fashion once more. The post-pandemic ‘revenge dressing’ mood has seen the return of unadulterated glamour in all its forms: feathers, sequins, sky-high heels, miniskirts, party dresses, OTT embellishments, corsets, eff-off jewellery, bright colours, and a whole lot of flesh. It’s exactly what I dreamt of during the various lockdowns, when the most fun we could have with fashion was adding a statement earring to our loungewear get-up, or blowing a whole month’s shopping budget on a pair of cashmere joggers.
On the other hand, I can’t seem to shift a yearning for the simpler days of dressing to impress absolutely no one; selecting clothes based solely on their capacity for comfort and ease. Lockdown dressing might have been monotonous, but it was also, in many ways, a relief.
All the associated social anxieties evaporated: no more worrying about whether something was flattering or occasion-appropriate, whether I looked cool enough, stylish enough, or whether I’d worn a particular look too many times before. And the tricky transition season weather? It didn’t even cross my mind.
Now, besides having to muster the energy to actually attend all these events and be my most sparkling social self, there’s the added complication of re-figuring out how to dress for them at all. Somewhere between caring too much, not caring at all and genuinely not remembering how we used to do it so easily, there’s a grey area where the once-simple act of dressing has become a constant tussle – one that feels overwhelming.
According to the experts, the trick lies in keeping things simple. ‘Transitional dressing can be a tricky and frustrating task, especially when the weather has a mind of its own,’ says Libby Page, Senior Market Editor at Net-A-Porter. ‘It’s best to start with the wardrobe basics: hero pieces you can turn to regardless of the weather, which can be styled and layered in multiple ways. The hardest-working items in my wardrobe right now are my white t-shirt from The Row, a Loewe tank and chic multi-purpose jeans from Agolde.’
The hybrid working model adds an extra layer of complexity: swinging between extreme comfort one day and smart office attire the next means constantly rewiring our brains and approach to dressing. It’s little wonder we’re feeling so fatigued.
Page suggests applying the same ‘simple is best’ logic here, too: ‘An easy white shirt worn over a plain tee is great for days in the office, particularly if there’s a chill in the air. I also love a minimal blouse that can be taken straight from day to night, worn with jeans or tailored trousers depending on the weather and formality.’
Tiffany Hsu, VP womenswear buying at Mytheresa, advises investing in quality leather trousers or high-end denim to complete the look: 'They're so versatile and functional, and you can dress the up or down for the occasion. My favourites right now are the logo jeans from Loewe and McQueen's high-rise leather pants.'
For me, it’s all about pushing aside the pang of guilt that arises each time I reach for yet another uninspiring, failsafe outfit and leave my most fabulous pieces behind. A black Wolford body, wide-leg 7 For All Mankind jeans, oversized Frankie Shop blazer, trainers, gold jewellery and I'm good to go practically anywhere – no overthinking required.
Sometimes I’ll add a designer bag, statement earring or sparkly shoes to feel a little more dressed up, but the days of suffering for the ‘fit are long gone. Post-Covid, it’s all about prioritising how clothes make us feel rather than just how they make us look – and if comfort and ease are the recipe for sartorial confidence and joy this transition season, isn’t that the greatest ‘revenge look’ of all?
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