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How To Build a confidence-boosting Spring wardrobe in six simple steps

Anna Murphy,
Fashion Director, The Times

Spring fashion. The words alone sound great, evoking clothes that will make you feel good and look even better. And if you shop smart, that’s the empowering dress code you can enjoy in the months ahead

Pretty prints, popping colours, fresh detailing, look-lifting flourishes: for me, it’s spring that delivers better than any other season on all of the above. You don’t need to over shop – you just need to buy canny.

Buy into items that will work hard for you day after day and make you smile every time you wear them. Items that will build on and/or reinvent what you already love in your wardrobe. It might take the form of a game-changer jacket, a gorgeous look-at-me number that will get you all the right kinds of attention, whether you shoulder it with tailoring for the office or with jeans for a weekend brunch. It might be a fabulous final flourish: a statement necklace, perhaps, or some new-generation heels. A curated collection. Look refreshed. Confidence boosted.

These are the six pieces I'm buying into for Spring...

A model wearing a red dress and silver cone-heel shoes from fashion retailer John Lewis

01. The new heel

A pair of fashion-forward shoes is one of the simplest ways to refresh your look. Problem is, fashion-forward shoes are often less reliable when it comes to the simple matter of putting one foot in front of the other. Not so this twinkle-toed example. The cone heel is quite literally hot to trot: an all-day height and comfortably substantial. The low-cut front and pointed toe is similarly zeitgeist. The end result will work with – and retool – that LBD you’ve had in your wardrobe for a decade. 

Dress, £79; shoes, £79; both Kin by John Lewis

A fashion model wearing tailored cropped trousers by John Lewis

02. The cropped wide-leg trouser 

Accentuate the positive is my rule when it comes to clothes. The ankles are one of the slimmest points on any woman’s body, which is why I love this season’s cropped trousers. And I’m not the only one. A celebrity stylist told me that cropped trews are one of her go-tos when it comes to flattering her film-star clients. And she agreed it’s a style that works just as well on the petite as on the lofty. I’m always on the lookout for a hard-wearing, crease-resistant fabric, both boxes ticked by this lovely pair.

Shirt from a selectiontrousers, £69; shoes, £79; all Kin by John Lewis

A model wearing a statement jacket from fashion retailer John Lewis

03. The statement jacket 

This is my default way to change up whatever else I’m wearing this season – be it sharply cut neutral trousers, boyfriend jeans or a floaty skirt or dress. A jacket in a bright pattern or colour makes you look pulled together, even powerful, but also youthful – anything but pompous. In short, it offers all the upsides of tailoring without any of the downs. Pick a new-gen soft fabric and cut, such as this one, and I guarantee you’ll be wearing it seven days a week. 

Jacket, £75, HushDress, £160, Eudon Choi for Modern Rarity

A model wearing a bold statement necklace from fashion retailer John Lewis

04. The chunky necklace


Our grandmothers were taught the transformative powers of an unusual necklace or pair of earrings, and that hasn’t changed. What has changed are the brilliantly ambidextrous options available for SS18. A bang-up-to-date necklace like this one splices lady chic with cool-girl attitude, which makes it easier to play fast and loose with the rest of your outfit. Mixing upscale with athleisure has become a fashion perma-trend, with us season after season. Pick the right jewellery and it will help you pull off the new mix-and-match with aplomb. 

Sweatshirt, £49, Kin by John LewisNecklace, £34, John Lewis

A model wearing a jumpsuit by John Lewis

05. The jumpsuit

I feel it is my job on this earth to persuade any remaining resisters as to the power of the jumpsuit. I have a friend in her thirties who is addicted. I have another in her sixties who is similarly obsessed. Why? Because this season’s jumpsuit works like a dress – it smooths out your lines, and removes the worry about what goes with what. And also because it is the most youth-endowing item of clothing you can sport as you get older. Want to look both classy and cool, be it for day or night? I hereby pledge to you that this jumpsuit will deliver. 

Jumpsuit, £85, HushShirt, £139, Brora
Shoes, £79, Kin by John LewisEarrings, from a selection at John Lewis

A model wearing a dress by fashion designer Eudon Choi for John Lewis' own-brand fashion line Modern Rarity

06. The Magic Dress

Why magic? Because it will prove itself an almost preternaturally flexible friend this spring. Wear it as a straight-down-the-line frock, loose or with a wide leather belt, to look on-trend boho or upscale dressy. Or make like the fashion pack and layer it over black trousers or jeans, as shown here. Alternatively, leave it undone over those separates so it functions as a kind of kimono-cum-duster coat, another look beloved of front-row regulars. Abracadabra.

Dress, £89, AND/ORJeans, £55; shoes, £79; bag, £35; all Kin by John Lewis

Spring wardrobe Essentials