Supermodel sensation, and EW March cover girl, Cara Delevingne has become the fashpack favourite for her rip-up-the-rule-book approach to off-duty styling. Her secret weapon? The high street. Ms Delevingne declares: “It’s all about the high street right now because, at the end of the day, no one wears head-to-toe designer in real life.
Cara could be on to something. Luxury labels keep us waiting six months between collections – Spring/Summer lands in boutiques during February, then Autumn/Winter doesn’t hit till September – so smarter stylistas are heading to the high street for a faster, fresher fashion fix.
To satisfy the most demanding of mall-trawlers, the likes of New Look and Miss Selfridge dazzle us with a new drop every week, while Zara keeps us coming back for more by unleashing new styles in store every other day. With such a dizzying turnaround of fly-by-night fashion trends, the first rule of high-street shopping is: get it or regret it.
While the catwalks will always be my first stop for buy-now-wear-forever investment pieces, the high street’s hot on their heels. For the discerning style-setter, Reiss and Cos (H&M’s sleeker, more sophisticated sister) bridge the gap between high-end and high street. Meanwhile, Topshop Boutique is a cutting-edge capsule collection in higher quality fabrics at premium price points, which brings me to the second rule of high-street shopping: always read the label. Seek out pieces with the most lavish percentages of silk and wool for luxury and longevity.
The third rule of high-street shopping is: size doesn’t matter. I take an, ahem, 12 in Chloé, but am a proud 8 in Topshop. Even after indulging in my lunchtime lobster habit at Hakkasan, thanks to the generous cuts at Next, Dorothy Perkins and Marks & Spencer, I’ll still be a smug size 6.
No matter where you shop, the fit will always be far more important than the size, so my best-kept style secret is having a seamstress on speed dial who tailors my greatest high-street hits to suit my silhouette.
A nipped-in waist, a subtle adjustment at the shoulders, or a couple of inches hacked off a hemline will make any off-the-peg purchase look like it’s been made to measure.
Of course, the problem with shopping the high street is that great glamoristas think alike. And, one day, you could find yourself in a fashion face-off, like I did when I turned up at the BBC TV studios rocking a punchy, power-pink boyfriend tux with super-sharp black lapels only to find the female news anchor interviewing me in a perfectly colour-matched dress from the same collection. “Zara?” we both mouthed in the awkward silence seconds before going live on air to the nation looking like trend twins.
Sticky styling situations aside, with H&M upping the ante by making its A/W13 runway debut at Paris Fashion Week, it looks as if the high street’s determined to steal the fashion limelight this season. And, after all, if it’s cool enough for Cara Delevingne…
Written by: Alison Tay