January is racing past us at the speed of a trainee for this year’s Olympics, yet still every television ad and all the fashion magazines are practically reaching out and slapping us on the wrist for being so naughty over the Christmas period.
With the cooler weather, going back to work and harsh economic times, it’s hard enough to begin the year with a spring in your step. Add the obligatory post-Christmas refusal of fabulous foods to the mix and it’s no wonder January is seen as the miserable month, so I’m bucking the trend and being guided by a few simple rules when wandering the streets in search of new attire:
DRESS FOR YOUR SHAPE
Ask Aunty Gok, or Trinny and Susannah, and they’ll tell you there’s little point in wearing a bandage dress if you have anything other than a straight up and down body, and wearing the wrong thing is one reason many people hate shopping. With a little acceptance of shape and size, shopping can be a whole lot easier, loads more fun and no matter what you buy, if it’s true to your shape you’ll feel good in it (and that’s half the battle).
Should you find yourself with a little disposable cash, why not treat yourself to something from the upper end of the high street? These little gems are available now...
LK Bennet – Tani Jumper (£145): Wear it alone like a dress if you’re brave, or as a tunic top with leggings for the more reserved.
Reiss - Zoe Dress (£149): This dress could work for the office or a dinner date, and the pattern and ruched detail helps hide any unwanted bumpy bits!
Alternatively, if you're looking for something a little lighter on the bank account, Cambridge has a wealth of new season trends worth investing in...
Top Shop’s maxi front skirt is ideal for a fun night out matched with River Island's daring one shoulder top.
Big belts in pale shades are great for breaking up block colour outfits, and are flattering to most body types. These two won’t burst the piggy bank...
Oasis gold clasp belt (£13) and Debenhams snake skin belt (£10):
And if all these neutral tones have you clamouring for a blast of colour, cheer yourself up with the vibrant Oasis Liverpool Street Bag. (£35)
Finally, for the taut tummied among you, bare midriffs are set for a comeback in spring so this River Island – Crop Gypsy Top (£25) is just the ticket.
TRY IT ON!
Everyone knows waiting for a changing room is the pit of a shopping day, and with the sales in full swing it’s more of a hassle than usual, but going without could mean condemning yourself to a wardrobe full of clothes you just don’t wear. How many of us have got home and tried on the new dress/skirt/top, only to discover it didn’t look right, and then couldn't find the time/energy to take it back and suffer the glare of a sulky sales assistant as they process your refund?
If you detest the CRQ (changing room queue) as much as I do then get in early. 11am-2pm is typically the peak times for footfall, so why not grab a large coffee at 9am and peruse the shops for a couple of hours, then just as everyone else hits the car parks you can escape the maddening crowds and head home.
Alternatively (and this is also good if you are trying to curb your spending), get in after 4pm. You will have less time to mooch around, but it's far quieter so you can focus on just seeking out one or two special items.
Contrary to popular belief, you can look larger than you are in poorly fitted clothes (whether it’s a size up or down), and no one wants to see swathes of material bunched around a belt or safety pin folds in skirts. Many dry cleaners around town will do alterations for you and once you get the item back, it will feel like a new addition to your wardrobe for a fraction of the price.
When the going gets tough, the tough...ACCESSORISE
Other than going out and finding you love everything you see but don’t have the cash to splash, the next worst thing is heading out with your readies at the ready and finding nothing at all that attracts your attention. When this happens, don't be defeated - just head for the accessories. Belts help to hide a seasonal belly, and scarves and pashminas can give any outfit a renewed sparkle. There is a great range of eye-catching accessories available on the high street right now: check out this blue leopard print scarf from Ted Baker (£59).
Not looking to spend quite that much? Have a look at these...
River Island Scarf (£13):
Warehouse Scarf (£20):
Feel free to add your own tips for great shopping trips below. Now go forth and multi-buy…