Monday, 7 June 2010

It's hard to beat Burberry

The thing about summer clothes is that a) they tend not to be black and b) they tend to be flimsy, very short and sleeveless. Trying to find a half-decent summer dress can feel like mission impossible unless you want to wear something that's about four inches long, or something from Jigsaw. (Was Jigsaw always so expensive, by the way? Some of their maxidresses are pretty, but most clock in at the £100-150 mark; when bolder brands like Acne and American Vintage, Whistles and Cos are doing something quite a bit cooler, this feels like too much).

Anyway – now the sun's gone again and so I'm looking ahead at the new collections. They look so classy and investable next to the garishly colourful pieces clogging up the rails right now. Wouldn't you rather save up for one fabulous coat than waste cash on dresses from H&M and flimsy sandals that you'll get to wear for just a week or two? It's a rhetorical question, clearly, when you come face to face with the new coats at Burberry. The cut, the shapes, the fabric – these are classic with a capital C and yet completely of the moment, with military-style double-breasted versions (see above). The enduringly cool peacoat (£395) stands out as the hottest shape for autumn/winter for both boys and girls. Designer Christopher Bailey continues to keep Burberry at the very top of its game.

Burberry autumn/winter 2010. Photo Marcio Madeira /

Expensive, yes, but the cost-per-wear argument stands up to serious scrutiny here – because each of these coats and jackets are made to last and last. It's not like buying into the latest trouser shape, which will change surely and inevitably. Currently, magazines and websites are breathlessly telling us this season's 'must-have' is the Houlihan by J Brand, a cargo pant/skinny jean hybrid with unflattering hip-side pockets (striding in at a hefty £245). It's true that J Brand trousers are beautifully soft to wear and have a flattering cut. And that, thanks to Balmain, skinny trousers are here to stay a while, having ousted anything boot-cut or flared to the dark dustbin of fashion. But I still reckon that anything remotely cargo will be consigned to the sale rail before the year's out, particularly those in GI Jane-style khaki. Just remember how quickly we all went off cargo trousers the first time round. Because they looked rubbish.

A Burberry trenchcoat still looks as good as new a decade, two decades later. Versatile, practical even, it lends the wearer a touch of understated style and elevates the rest of an outfit to its level (or, at the very least, covers it up). Likewise, next season's wool and cashmere coats with their military twist are truly covetable, and there will be a million high-street copies – but none of them will look quite like this...

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