It's been a long time since I wrote my first Joy of Shopping column (almost three years—eek), and while the world might've gone through more than one era-defining shift, my belief in the mood-boosting, personality-projecting power of fashion has not wavered. Throughout, I have tried to be picky with what I put my stamp of approval on, only getting behind pieces that I would genuinely wear. With this in mind, this season, I decided to head down to a high-street store that I have long rated for its time-tested, high-quality tailoring: Arket.
I got an Arket blazer for Christmas just over three years ago—one of the brand's hopsack blazers in grey check—and I was blown away by its fine wool fabric, expensive-looking silhouette and immaculate cut. I have worn it continually ever since, and it still looks as good today as it did the first time I wore it. The fashion industry's craving for all things tailored has only risen in recent seasons, with many high-street and designer brands jumping on the "low-key luxury" bandwagon, yet in my opinion, Arket remains one of the best at the affordable end of the market.
There has been no shortage of beige-on-beige suits making the rounds of Instagram over the last 12 months, so I wanted my try-on to reflect the various aesthetics you can create with tailoring. It's amazing how much difference going up or down a size can make. For example, in many of my outfits, I chose to go up a size to create a more oversized finish (I would also note that Arket's tailored trousers come up small), while other pieces felt more polished with a closer fit.
As paintbox brights are such a key trend for S/S 22, I have thrown in a generous splash of colour—think flame orange and Kermit green—but that's not to say that these won't stand the test of time. You can wear the blazer and trousers together for a full statement-making ensemble, but I also love the idea of a colourful blazer with a white T-shirt and jeans. I don't know about you, but I'm certainly in need of some colour-based endorphins to carry me through to spring. So if you're looking to inject a little polished personality into your new-season wardrobe, allow me to show you the best blazers, trousers and shirts from Arket that get my seal of approval.
1. The Classic Black Blazer
Style Notes: While I wanted to break away from standard-issue suiting with this try-on, I also couldn't not include a classic black blazer. While it may denote certain sartorial traditions, I have found it to be a truly versatile piece in my wardrobe: it has carried me through job interviews, LFW parties and everything in between.
Of course, you don't want to mess too much with the OG formula, yet I have enjoyed the way brands such as Stella McCartney and Saint Laurent have embraced an oversized spin on the blazer this season. So for this look, I've gone one size up (I'm wearing a UK 12 here) and balanced out the silhouette with Arket's zip-detail leggings and chunky boots. My striped vintage Ralph Lauren shirt and red neckerchief also add some fun retro charm to the sobriety of the black.
2. The Green Tailoring
Style Notes: It's officially impossible to avoid green right now, whether it's in interiors, fashion or food. This green suit from Arket is as green as you can get but a great example of how you can bring a more avant-garde spin to traditional tailoring with minimal effort. While I love the pairing together, I also think that the two pieces would look great separately with more muted colourways such as beige and cream. That being said, I decided to style the suit with a colour-complementary red stripe shirt. (Go big or go home, right?)
Size-wise, as I previously mentioned, I would recommend sizing up at Arket, particularly in trousers (unless you have very slim hips). I'm wearing a UK 12 in the trousers here (I'm usually a 10), as I found they have a nice slouch and skim over the hips nicely. Plus, the drawstring waist makes them super easy to adjust.
3. The Neutral Separates
Style Notes: Rather than include four cookie-cutter suits in this story, I wanted to show how Arket's tailoring can be adapted for a variety of outfits. So for this look, I took the brand's beige tailored trousers and styled them with easy, polished separates, namely a shirt and striped knitted tank. I imagine this is the sort of look that could work for the weekend, maybe with a more casual quilted jacket, but also for the new smart-casual dress code that is being introduced into many offices.
Tailored trousers are a great building block from which to create outfits, and I love how this pair is not only comfy (hello, elasticated waistband) but also works beautifully as part of a tonal look. The key is to create interesting textural contrasts via the fabrics. The white shirt and woolly knit are ideal for this purpose. Again, I sized up in both the trousers (I went for a 12) and the vest (I'm wearing a M) but stuck to my usual size with the shirt.
Style Notes: I know this look won't be to everyone's taste, but honestly, it can't just be me experiencing a beige fatigue right now? If you didn't already know, paintbox brights are having a moment in the spotlight, and flame orange is right at the centre of the action. I love the idea of wearing this instead of a dress to a wedding this spring—just style with slingback kitten heels and gold jewellery.
As the colour is so statement-making, I think it's best to stick to a more traditionally tailored fit, so I'm wearing a UK 10 in both the trousers and blazer here. (Although, you can see how the front pleats in the trousers are gaping a little bit. Hence I sized up my other looks.)
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