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  • Dressing Room

    Diaries

    When it comes to seeking out a smart sartorial purchase, we’re always ready to roll up our sleeves and get stuck in – and for this issue, we’ve done exactly that. 

    By Laura and Petro

     sizes

    Armed with a coffee (or two), we hit the shops in search of the great quality wardrobe staples that come with an entry-level price tag. On our checklist are beautiful fabrics, considered finishings and minimal details that will never date. Longevity is the watchword, so read on for our edit of the pieces that have it in spades. Consider this your smart-price shopping shortcut…

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    THE CORDUROY DRESS

     

    “I really trust Toast to deliver on timeless pieces – the consideration of fabrics and attention to detail is evident in every design. This dress is made from soft needlecord, and hangs beautifully. The simple tunic shape can be worn loose and layered with a roll neck at the weekend, or belted for the office. I especially love the colour; a rich burnt caramel that works with tan and navy, or can be clashed with red.”

    Laura

    THE TROUSER SUIT

     

    “I am a big fan of tailoring, and for me, the trouser suit is a real wardrobe ICON. An impeccable cut and high quality fabric are paramount here, and Jigsaw delivers on both fronts with this set. The luxe wool hangs beautifully, while close attention to the cut means the proportions are just right. What I especially like is the flattering, slim-fit of the jacket, while the ankle-grazing trousers can be worn with boots, flats or heels. A deep wine tone is a great autumnal alternative to classic black or navy.”

    Petro

    THE CROSS-BODY BAG

     

    “When buying a bag on the high street, it’s important to look for designs that focus on premium leather and have minimal detailing. Avoid logos and hardwear (if it isn’t of the utmost quality it can look cheap). This pared-back cross-body is practical, it’s the perfect size for essentials, has two zips for ease, and a long strap that can be slung over a coat when on the go. A true everyday hero.”

    Laura

    THE DENIM BOILERSUIT 

     

    “I subscribe to the practicality of an all-in-one all year round, and during the winter months I like to reach for a utilitarian boilersuit. The relaxed, laid-back fit and soft denim of this one means it’s going straight to the top of my wish list. Layer-up with a roll neck and team with trainers at the weekend, switching in heels and adding gold jewellery for evening.”

    Laura

     

    THE SNAKE-PRINT MIDI

     

    “The first time I saw this beauty was in our edit of the top 20 winter dresses, but I have to say, it looks even better in real life. The silhouette nips in at the waist, so it elegantly follows your figure, while subtle splits in the skirt give movement. I also fell in love with the sleeves; a soft balloon that gathers at the wrist. Considered prints will elevate winter basics, but when opting for snake it pays to keep the palette neutral. A motif in browns, creams and blacks will look far more premium than brights.”

    Petro

     

    THE LEOPARD ANKLE BOOT

     

    “Instantly adding interest to a simple outfit, footwear in classic leopard is a perennially clever buy. When it comes to shopping, there is a simple rule of thumb: the denser the print, the more expensive it looks. Steer clear of overblown spots and stick to a small proportioned motif, as showcased on Boden’s just-perfect lace-up boots. The pony-skin texture adds a extra air of luxe, while the cuff ends at the right point of the leg for maximum elongation.”

    Laura

    THE CHECKED OVERCOAT

     

    “A checked coat adds contemporary flair to classic outfits, and is already a treasured item in my outerwear collection. However, if I was looking for a replacement then this one from John Lewis & Partners would be it. Realised in premium heavy wool, it hangs expensively, ending just below the knee – the perfect length for layering. The fine check is tasteful, while details – such as the finish on the buttons and the proportions of the lapels – look and feel considered.”

    Petro

    THE CAMEL COAT

     

    “Outerwear is something I would always say is well worth a designer investment, but this season a handful of brands have produced premium coats at entry price points, meaning there are smart buys to be had. Modern Rarity’s fabrics and silhouettes have really impressed me. I particularly love the purposefully over-sized fit and refined details of this coat. The colour choice is also clever; the warm-toned camel looks far more expensive than a cooler sandy shade.”

    Laura

    THE FLAT BOOT

     

    “Flat lace-up boots have been one of my key investments this season, lending androgynous chic to dresses and suits. I was very impressed with these from Carvela, which are a great price for such good quality leather. Subtle gold detailing in the form of studs and rivets gives an extra premium touch, while the sole strikes the right balance between stompy and unflatteringly clompy. I also appreciate the discreet side zip, which is much easier than laces when in a rush!”

    Petro

    THE PAISLEY DRESS

     

    “I always gravitate towards Mango for smart priced dresses on account of its fashion-forward aesthetic and easy-to-wear shapes. This midi is no exception. The chic bohemian style is very flattering, while thoughtful details, such as covered buttons and a full lining, give a luxe edge. Note the print: while it’s hard to find premium florals on the high street, the signature motif of paisley means there’s minimal room for error. The monochrome colour palette is perfect for winter – just add a pair of fabulous black boots.”

    Laura

    THE VELVET EVENING TROUSERS & CHUNKY KNIT

     

    “As soon as I put these trousers on, I was sold; they are incredibly comfortable, and the mid-weight velvet falls beautifully, skimming rather than clinging to the leg. While navy velvet can sometimes look shiny (ergo cheap), these have a matte finish in a sumptuously deep midnight shade. I’ve paired them with this perfectly chunky-but-not-bulky Boden knit. When looking for knitwear on the high street, a close rather than open weave – which shows your under-layer – looks far more premium.”

    Petro

    THE KNEE-HIGH BOOT

     

    “I bought these boots last season and they’ve become a hero of my winter shoe collection, having been worn time and again. Here’s why they work: the rounded-point toe is elongating and timeless, the heel is elegantly high yet walkable, and the leather is butter-soft and luxurious. If a designer pair is not on your agenda then these are a worthy alternative.”

    Laura 

    THE TAILORED JACKET

     

    “A medium-weight jacket is a clever piece to reach for at this time of year – wear over knits on temperate days, or layer under a coat when extra warmth is needed. H&M has mastered this wardrobe staple thanks to three key components: the luxe herringbone fabric, simple single-button detail, and the sharp-cut shoulder that has just the right amount of padding. Oh, and the width of lapel is spot-on too! I like a slim-fit jacket, so I sized down, but for an oversized silhouette, go true to size.”

    Petro

    THE FAUX PEARL EARRINGS

     

    “H&M excels at statement costume jewellery and has become an insider go-to for fashion-forward pieces that look far more expensive than their diminutive price tags. Combining two of my sartorial loves – pearls and hoops – these earrings are just the thing to give classic outfits a fun update. What’s more, they’re super light, so can be worn for the duration of dinner without making your ears sore.”

    Petro

    THE ELEVATED ANORAK 

     

    “COS does really great outerwear, and this season the hooded parka has caught my eye. First, the colour: a universally flattering khaki, which will fit beautifully into an autumnal palette. Second, the fabric: heavy, matte cotton with an almost waxed finish that will give wintry showers a run for their money. And third, the functional yet stylish details: a practical hood and good-sized pockets. This is a clever winter staple – keep it in the car for surprise showers, pack it for long weekends in the countryside, or simply wear of a weekend with jeans and boots.”

    Laura

    THE KNITTED DRESS

     

    “At this time of the year I have knitted dresses on heavy rotation, and among my favourites are those from COS. The brand consistently delivers good quality knits in timeless shapes, made from premium wool – including this black number. What I love most about this dress is the oversized silhouette that doesn’t cling to bumps. The hem hits at the right length so it can be worn with flats or heels, and the cropped sleeves will prevent overheating. It’s also worth mentioning the mock neck – a universally flattering alternative to the roll neck.”

    Petro

    THE TROUSER CO-ORD

     

    “This matching set takes my love for knitted co-ords to a whole new level. The trousers have a 7/8th leg, which is the perfect crop for petite frames like mine. Team with a blazer and sleek loafers for a spin on the classic trouser suit, or dress down with trainers for an off-duty look. The stretchy wool blend and elastic waistband means it would also make for a stylish travel outfit – no ironing required.”

    Laura

    THE SLEEK CARGO PANT

     

    “Chiming in with the current sartorial mood, these cropped chinos have a subtle and stylish utility influence, perfect for weekend wear. The pockets nod to a cargo trouser, but thanks to their thoughtful placement, they don’t add bulk to legs, while the forest green is a smarter alternative to khaki. Heavy cotton keeps the silhouette structured – size up for an artfully slouchy fit.”

    Petro 

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