Women who are interested in fashion divide up into two broad camps.
There are the peacocks who change their jewellery twice a day, mismatch prints, layer colours, do their hair one of four different ways depending on their mood and love to dress up.
And then there are the rest of us — the ‘hawks’ — who prefer to keep things simple but effective. We like glamour, we love clothes but we have no use for anything you can’t put on faster than you can brush your teeth, and we love a one-step fix.
A hawk (me, in case you hadn’t guessed) approaches every dressing opportunity with three clear goals: look as good as you can, look a bit different, take no trouble. Taking no trouble shows: we’d rather wear a blazer and trousers than a floaty button-up dress.
It’s not that we’re lazy, we just prefer to find a formula that works and adapt that according to what’s new.
And now to the point: right now, the secret to making your clothes look new and interesting, with minimal effort, is a switch of footwear. Pictured: Actress Katie Holmes
Peacocks love to parade in front of the mirror, trying on this with that, scrabbling for the belt at the back of the drawer that might be the perfect finishing touch, seeing what surprising thing works on the day.
Hawks know roughly what they’re going to wear, the only question is how they’re going to tweak it to make it look better and more contemporary. We’re looking in the mirror but only to see if the boots or the shoes look better.
And now to the point: right now, the secret to making your clothes look new and interesting, with minimal effort, is a switch of footwear. It’s no great secret that shoes and boots will bounce your look from one year into the next faster than any other item in your wardrobe, but some seasons there is a distinct shoe shift. Spring 2023 is one of them.
As of now, the shoe shape that will make your trousers (any trousers so long as they’re not tight) look like you bought them yesterday is a lowish, kitten heel slingback.
Me+Em’s are not cheap (£250, meandem.com) but if you want to get maximum wearability out of this style, you can’t do better than these — in either black glossy patent or snake-print. Wear with a relaxed, ankle bone-grazing pair of trousers and a blouse and blazer and you’ve got yourself a smart work outfit or an easy cocktails option.
They’ll give a dress Holly Golightly spark, too — though this year looks like being all about dressing up trousers.
As of now, the shoe shape that will make your trousers (any trousers so long as they’re not tight) look like you bought them yesterday is a lowish, kitten heel slingback. Pictured: Model on the catwalk Chanel show at Paris Fashion Weekm, Spring Summer 2023
By substituting your trainers or loafers or chunky ankle boots for a smart pair of kitten heels — try & Other Stories for shiny black (£85, stories.com) or Zara for leopard-print (£59.99, zara.com) — you’re adding the sharp dash of ladylike that makes everything look new this spring. And by ladylike I mean polished and feminine, not prim or pretty.
It’s surprising the difference that they make: in one easy step you’re slicker, higher off the ground and looking a lot more dressed.
Otherwise the ballet flat is back, which also works well in leopard (£35, marksand spencer.com). With ballet flats it’s best to stick to the three classics: snake, leopard and black (£89, hush-uk.com).
Accessories: the new rules
- A kitten heel is back
- Try patent or snake print
- Go for pointy-toe boots
- Get a ladylike chain bag
The ones you want are higher cut on the foot, so they look less ballerina, and the plainer the better. You’re wearing these with tailored trousers or jeans, never a dress. Too girly.
And then there are the new sharper boots. I’ve dug out some old pointy black Zara ankle boots that look a bit Acne; high polish, a longer length, a close fit and a pointed toe are what you’re looking for in an ankle boot to show off under cropped trousers or to wear with midi dresses.
For something similar try H&M’s good-looking block-heeled pair (£34.99, 2.hm.com) or Hush’s Tallis boots (£169).
Otherwise, cowboy boots are still having a moment. Sadly, they’re on my personal list of items that make me look like I have a bad case of age denial (along with tulle, sheer, biker jackets and slogan T-shirts); but if you want to give them a go, Arket has a plain pair that’s only cowboy in that it has a Cuban heel (£199, arket.com).
All you need then is a ladylike bag. I like Mango’s leather sack with a chain strap (£89.99, shop.mango.com) because it’s got room for an ipad and a spare pair of shoes, but the rectangular smart chain bag, also from Mango (£22.99, johnlewis.com) is the classic ‘can’t go wrong’ shape.