Have you got your summer style sorted?

— by Alyson Walsh

Photos: Matt Monfredi. Hair & makeup: Anna Durston


What’s your season? And I don’t mean that in a Colour Me Beautiful way. More of a ‘when are you happiest in what you wear?’ Chatting to one of my neighbours recently, she commented, ‘ You always look good in your summer dresses.’ How kind ( I was in Cos at the time). It is so nice to receive a compliment – but that’s another feature. I thanked her and said that I always feel like summer isn’t my most stylish season. I’m much more comfortable in a uniform of jeans and a shirt, or jacket. Spring and autumn are when I reach Peak Wardrobe Happiness.

In the Guardian, a couple of weeks ago, Jess Cartner Morley wrote a feature on the perfect summer dress. She categorised the different styles of dresses and the type of people who gravitate towards them. I laughed when it came to the bit about shirt dresses and the summary said:

‘If your most beloved summer frock is a shirt dress, the truth is probably that this is not, in fact, your favourite season to dress for. You are not the let-it-all-hang-out type. You’ll be happy when September rolls around and you can unroll your knitwear and zip into knee-high boots. Until then, you’ll lean into crisp shirting… to show you can do summer. You also like wearing linen.’

This is true. Shirt dresses, tick. Linen, tick. And, summer is not my favourite season. So. What I have been trying to do this year is to find a hot weather version of dressing that I’m comfortable with. Outfits that capture the way I feel in my jeans, jackets and jumpsuits – rather than settling for a second-best dress because it’s too humid for anything else. This is not the way to instil fashion confidence. Time to get my summer style sorted. To transfer my trademark TNMA look into an outfit that feels like me, on a hot day.



How to do this?


Fit is the most important thing

I know I repeat this ad infinitum… but fit (in all senses of the word) is the most important thing. Prior to this outfit, I tried on a linen trouser suit and striped T-shirt. It didn’t feel right. The trousers weren’t quite slouchy enough and the whole ensemble felt a bit too neat, a bit like one of my Telegraph columns. It didn’t fit my aesthetic or my body.

Switch to a more relaxed outfit, one in keeping with my usual look and I’m instantly happier. Casual and summery it has a ‘Lucinda Chambers en vacances at her holiday home in France‘ vibe that I admire. The shirt is easy-breezy and the COLOUR is magnificent. The wider leg, seersucker cotton, striped trousers replace heavier jeans or cargo pants and add a little jaunty-ness to the proceedings. Ditto Penelope Chilvers snazzy spin on the Birkenstock mule, and the gorgeous, zesty orange leather tote. All of these elements come together to create a winning combination.

Take a proper look at the clothes that make you feel good

Either take them out of the wardrobe and place them on the bed, or hang them on a separate rail if you have one. What is it about these clothes that makes you feel happy and confident? Is it the colour or the shape? Is there a design feature you like? I love a Super Shirt, I’m more comfortable in non-crotch-bothering trousers with pockets and blue is my colour – is it any wonder I feel confident in this outfit?

Whose style do you admire?

Above, I mention Lucinda Chambers, the cool-as-you-like fashion queen who always looks chic. If summer is not your favourite season, clothes-wise, then have a look around at what other stylish women are wearing. Figure out why it works and if there are elements you can adapt for your own wardrobe. I’m not advising everyone turn into a copycat – it’s important to wear the shapes and silhouettes you feel comfortable in – but there’s no harm in looking for inspiration and then maybe adding a new twist to an old favourite.

Know how you want to look

Remember the three adjectives! If summing up how I want to look, I’d say ‘cool, relaxed and chic’. The aim is to feel comfortable in my clothes – which is why shirt dresses are good because I’m uneasy in anything too faff-y or flouncy. I’d much rather be pared-down and clutter-free. I want to look like an elegant gentlewoman, all summer long.



A quick reminder that you can shop all my outfits by signing up to LTK – and there are lots of cool summer pieces (I’d be happy to wear), in the TNMA SHOP.



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Crinkle cotton relaxed shirt from NRBY. Striped cotton trousers, Jigsaw. Brazilian Stripe Mules, Penelope Chilvers. Leather tote bag, Mimi Berry (check out the collection, the totes are quite reasonably priced given their size and some are in the sale, all made in the UK). All items loaned for the shoot (though I may have held onto the super shirt and trousers!)

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  What’s your season? And I don’t mean that in a Colour Me Beautiful way.