Try a power sock and dig out your leopard print: 8 ways to restyle your wardrobe (without buying anything) | Fashion

I don’t know about you but I am so bored of all my clothes right now. My favourite jumpers have tipped from comforting familiarity into the kind of familiarity that breeds contempt. My winter coat hulks awkwardly on its peg in my hallway – like a party guest who doesn’t know when to leave, getting on my nerves every time I walk past it.

This happens every year at the tail end of winter. Every year, at the point when spring is in the air but in a flighty, unreliable way (it’s still cold in the mornings, still dark in the evenings) I run clean out of enthusiasm for everything I’ve been wearing.

Which is rubbish, because feeling good about my outfit is the best trick I know for feeling good about a new day. But much as I would like to shove the coat in the attic and start wearing gingham sundresses and espadrilles, it’s not a practical solution: I would probably give myself pneumonia and ruin said espadrilles in a muddy puddle.

So this year I’ve got a plan. Eight new styling tricks to spice up what’s already in our wardrobes. No shopping, just styling. Wearing the same clothes, but in different ways. This is a terrible time of year to go shopping. There is no point buying more winter clothes, because you won’t get enough wear out of them before summer happens, and when autumn rolls around they will feel like old clothes, so that’s a waste of time and money. And it’s too early to go in on proper summer clothes, which aren’t going to be of much use in the weeks of unreliable weather we’ve still got to get through.

Styling tricks can transform your wardrobe. Nothing makes you look more instantly up-to-date than wearing your clothes the way the in-crowd do. One season it was shoulder-robing our coats, another it was French-tucking our shirts. Styling lets you play with your wardrobe, have fun with it, and that helps put the spark back into getting dressed.

Styling tweaks can bring old favourites back into your look (hello, leopard, my old friend) and shuffle the deck so that the spotlight falls somewhere different. (See: the Power Sock, below.) I have spent much of the past few weeks watching fashion shows – which offer brilliant people watching in general, but are specifically excellent for getting a jump on the latest tips and tricks about how to wear clothes – and have distilled some key lessons into these ways to breathe new life into your between-seasons wardrobe. Are you ready, team? Let’s go.

Make a shirt sandwich

Mink blazer and trousers, Reiss. Striped satin shirt, Mango. Merino poloneck, Arket. Gold stacking rings, Monica Vinader

Let me introduce you to the recipe you need in your life right now: the shirt sandwich. Which is exactly as it sounds. That is, the shirt is the filler in between two layers. Start with a fine, close fitting, high-necked layer – a plain polo neck is perfect. Then add a shirt, so that only the neckline of the bottom layer is visible. Then add a third layer: this can be a jacket, like I’m wearing here, for when you want to look smart.

This is a useful work formula, because it’s cosier than just a shirt and a blazer and has a vaguely leftfield vibe that makes it interesting while remaining meeting-appropriate. The shirt sandwich also works well with a plain crew-neck sweater as the top layer. One combination I’ve been wearing a lot is a sleeveless top with a lace trim collar by Me+Em, which I’ve been wearing under a denim shirt under a loose-fit navy sweater – and while I know I said no shopping, I’m making an exception to share this with you as it is unbelievably useful.

Three contrasting colours or patterns makes a strong and vibrant look; two of the layers in a matching colour is more understated. Fashion writer Leandra Medine Cohen, who coined the “shirt sandwich” phrase for a look she first spotted in a Victoria Beckham lookbook, suggests wearing a hoodie as the top layer for a more casual look, or swapping the polo neck for a silk scarf tucked into the neck of your shirt when the weather warms up. Practical, tasty and satisfying. A recipe for a great sandwich.

The two-texture trick

Wool jumper, Cos. Satin skirt, River Island. Kitten-heel slingbacks, Asos. Northern star necklace, Ottoman Hands. Rings, Monica Vinader

Don’t know whether to dress for winter or summer? Hedge your bets with a half-and-half outfit. A cosy, fluffy knit makes a silky skirt wearable on a chilly day, so long as the hemline is long enough to cover most of your legs. Or, flip it around, and team the kind of blouse you might wear on holiday – in cheesecloth, maybe, or broderie anglaise – with chunky cord trousers and a boot.

It’s a perfect balance of practicality and optimism, you see. Keep the colours tonal to tie the two contrasting pieces together, and add a little something shiny to highlight the textures.

Leopard bites back

Leopard-print blouse, Albaray. Cropped jacket and tailored trousers, both Me+Em. Rings, Monica Vinader

Not that we needed an excuse to bring leopard print back, but the mob wife trend has given us one anyway. To recap, mob wife means lots of jewellery, attitude and flash. Noisy luxury rather than the quiet type. The vibe is: headed out for dinner with the girls, with money in your pocket, a boxfresh French manicure, and possibly a dead body in the boot of the car.

Look, it’s complicated, we’ll come back to it, but for now all you need to know is that a hit of leopard where you wouldn’t expect it can inject sass into any situation. Think leopard blouse under a smart jacket, or a glam leopard coat with relaxed, wide-leg jeans.

Welcome to your Power Sock era

Fishnet socks, Raey from Matches Fashion. Loafers, Grenson. Raw-hem jeans, Paige

Socks now have main character energy in fashion. This is quite a turn-up for the books because socks had been invisible for as long as I can remember. A bare ankle was the chic choice, and if a sock was essential, one chose a colour to blend with one’s trousers and shoes, to make the socks as discreet as possible.

But this season, my view across the catwalk to the legs swinging from chairs on the other side was dotted with cheerful socks. In bright colours and rich textures, power socks instantly lift your outfit from blah to snazzy, in the same way a great piece of jewellery can do.

The power sock started out in athleisure. Look around any gym and you will notice that anyone under 30 wears chunky sport socks, out and proud over their leggings, rather than the low-cut liner socks I’ve always worn with leggings and trainers. Well, now it has been promoted from the changing room to smart daywear. It’s a bit preppy, so while it works with any shoe, it is particularly good with a loafer.

Point of order: when I say power sock I do not, repeat not, mean novelty socks. The fluffy cartoon character pair you got as a Secret Santa gift is not the look we are after here. You want a good-quality sock in a strong colour. Can’t go wrong with a pop of red.

Drapescaping is the new tablescaping

Alpaca-mix scarf, Holzweiler. Ribbed dress, Whistles. Suede boots (just seen), Dear Frances. Earrings and rings, Monica Vinader

Just as tablescaping is a fancy word for setting the table, drapescaping is a fancy one for wearing a scarf. In the depths of winter, a scarf is to be wrapped as tightly around your neck and chin as possible, to ward off cold winds and lurgies. But now that we’re not at risk of freezing, it is time to get creative. The Doctor Who fling has been happening at fashion week: throw one half over your shoulder, let the other hang free. Add a brooch at the shoulder for extra jazziness, and consider yourself drapescaped.

Shoulder-robe your sweater

Wool coat, Vivere. Jumper, Mango. Earrings, Monica Vinader

I never got on with shoulder-robing my coat – it kept falling off, for a start, but it also wasn’t keeping me warm, and I couldn’t figure out what to do with my bag strap – but I am very excited about shoulder-robing 2.0, which you do with a sweater.

It works like this. Get dressed, then pick out a jumper or cardigan that will work on top if you get cold later, but instead of putting it on, put your coat on first and then tie the knit around your shoulders, like a scarf. This is a good styling hack for days when you are going to be outside a lot and your coat will be the headline act of your outfit – because most coats are pretty dull-looking and a contrast knit adds personality. Footnote: remember that around your shoulders, not around your waist, is the only place to tie one’s spare jumper these days.

Try a redfit (or a bluefit)

Coat, Ted Baker. Vintage Jaeger trousers, Rokit. High-neck T-shirt, New Look. Earrings, Monica Vinader. Shoes, Dear Frances

Layers are helpful in the shoulder season, when you need a combination that can cope with weather that shifts from one season to another and back again in the space of a day. When an outfit has lots of moving parts I tend to retreat into neutrals to keep the look from getting frantic, but here’s an alternative: pick one colour, and wear it top to toe.

Red is fun, grey looks chic, and electric blue is gathering steam as the next colour-of-the-moment. This has the added advantage of pretty much picking your outfit for you – if you make yourself stick to one colour, your wardrobe edits itself.

Add a belt

Gold buckle black belt, Black & Brown. Grey tailored trousers, Mint Velvet. Grey polo bodysuit, Weili Zheng (

That’s it. It’s that simple. Think of a belt as jewellery for your trousers, adding emphasis and a bit of shine. A belt makes you look sharper, because it shows that you get that a good pair of trousers are the mainstay of a 2024 wardrobe.

Side note: a belt like this is also good cinching a blazer, with jeans and a simple white T-shirt. Give it a try, I think you might like it.

Photographer’s assistant: Isaac Dann. Styling assistant: Sam Deaman. Hair and makeup: Carol Morley at Carol Hayes Management

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