THIS WEEK: on the end of jumper season

Starting from scratch

I know what I did last summer, but what did I wear? The weather has shifted but while everyone else seems to be unpacking their ‘summer capsule’ of easy dresses and sandals, I’m left with winter stuff and beach stuff, and nothing in between. I did find one pair of Castañer black wedged espadrilles under my bed which I took on a trip to Portugal last month - and then promptly had to chuck in the hotel bin, as my suitcase smelt like I’d been smuggling a stinking bishop in there (the cheese, not the clergyman).

I’ll admit that summer is not my season, fashion wise. I love jackets, knitwear, shades of black and navy, not being the only person with blue-white calves. My thighs have always touched in the middle, but while in winter that just makes me cosier, in the summer they chafe - oh, and did I mention my knees? Fleshy and folded, they look like those potato faces that little children eat with baked beans for tea.

Which makes summer a chore, not a joy, to shop for. In my late teens and early twenties, this meant black opaque tights or jeans year round - even during a heatwave, even on holiday (though not on the beach, like Nigella. Even I draw the line somewhere). As I’ve gotten older, I’ve relaxed a bit. The sight of those blue-white calves won’t kill anyone, not even me, and while my upper arms aren’t toned, the same goes, so sod it, T-shirt sleeves are long enough.

And so I get through summer with the bare minimum of new clothes, starting out wholly unprepared before deciding it’s too late to bother investing in a hot-weather wardrobe this year. I make do with a-bit-too-warm winter dresses, mind-numbing repetition of jeans and T-shirt, and a few fast-fashion dresses that seem to evaporate by the time next summer comes around.

Well, not this year. This year, I will be Gwyneth Paltrow in The Talented Mr Ripley, or Tilda Swinton in The Big Splash, or another much-taller-and-slimmer-than-me woman in elevated staples on a speedboat. I’ve started with a plain white cotton Sunspel T-shirt -it really is better than the cheap ones - and a Boden white linen shirt. Black Eyewear’s Alice sunglasses in Blond actually suit my face shape and colouring, which is a revelation. And I’ve worn Alexa Chung’s zip-through floral dress so much that it would be embarrassing - if I didn’t look so bloody phenomenal in it.

Next on my list? A pair of sandals with thick enough soles that I don’t get shin splints, a great full-length printed skirt, a Marant-y white blouse (on a Marant-lite budget), and a simple navy or black cotton dress for when it gets really hot. Summer-of-2020 me is going to kill it.

Becoming Liz Hurley

Three years ago I was Utility Jane (khaki shirt, denim shorts), two years ago I was Señorita Off-the-Shoulder (tops, dresses, jumpsuits – just no sleeves please. Olé!) and last year I was Midi-Dress Mary (floral print and worn with clogs – my summer shoe go-to). The question is, who am I going be this summer? Slip-skirt Susie? Boho Brenda? Options, options.

Here we are welcoming in the first few flushes of May and with them my annual summer wardrobe personality crisis. Whilst my October to April look is a consistent (if not slightly boring) uniform of roll-necks and jeans, the turn of the season sees me lose my sartorial shit as suddenly I’m hit with the impulse to reinvent myself for the summer months. Must do shells! Need some tie-dye! How about lilac?! Blame it on the sunshine, blame it on the rosé but summertime Frankie is a fickle fashion fiend.

This summer Matthew, I’m Liz Hurley – yes, I’m doing white jeans. The idea struck whilst on a recent trip with a fellow fashion editor who was sporting a high waisted pair from Raey. Worn with a black cashmere jumper (M&S, obvs) and Birkenstocks, they were a lesson in low-key chic.

Of course, white jeans aren’t straightforward. There’s the knicker issue – as in, if you’re not careful you can see them. My first pair (drainpipe peddle pushers- ‘twas the noughties) were so thin it wasn’t so much VPL as VP ‘oh hell’ - especially when I bent over, yikes. Lesson learnt, always pick a pair made from thick denim and only ever wear nude pants. Not white. Nude.

Then there’s the fact that they'll attract every grass stain/lipstick smudge/red wine spill within a 10 mile radius and you'll go through 25 bars of Vanish trying to remove a mysterious brown splodge after you make the mistake of sitting down on the bus (when it comes to white jeans and public transport, it’s best to stay standing).

And finally there’s the unavoidable truth that white worn on the bottom half makes my flat British arse look wider than a dual carriageway. Something which, after much trying on, I’ve discovered is best navigated by large back pockets.

With that in mind, the pair I’ll be wearing this year are Arket’s cropped jeans in ecru - which, FYI, is much easier to pull off than pure white. Made from pant-proof denim and ankle-skimming in length, they have the just-stepped-off-a-yacht appeal I’m after. To go with? Spaghetti-strap sandals which I shall wear as soon as I’ve sorted my feet out (that’s another column altogether). Someone book me a pedicure - the name’s Liz.