I Tried on Everything at & Other Stories, Topshop and H&M—Here's My Capsule Edit

Here at Who What Wear UK, we're all about delivering the latest and greatest shopping edits, as approved by our team. That's why we've created a new shopping column, The Joy of Shopping, which will see me, Joy Montgomery, heading to all your favourite stores to test out new-in pieces IRL. From summer dresses to the brands you might've forgotten about, prepare for changing room selfies aplenty. Is there something you'd like me to cover? Make sure to tweet or Instagram me your requests!

Everyone in the fashion world is talking a lot about capsules right now, and while it's generally a positive term, it can also be a very subjective one. After all, one person's capsule is another's idea of excess. There's also a danger that it can also become yet another thing to add to our to-do list, and we can end up feeling like a failure if our wardrobes aren't comprised of a puritanical eight-piece edit of interchangeable separates.

Well, if it's worth anything, this is how I see it: A capsule is essentially a more mindful way of piecing together our wardrobes. Rather than haphazardly purchasing items due to fashion fatigue or jumping on a trend the second it hits the runway, it's about seeing our clothing edit as a unified whole. Like a puzzle, we want to slowly build it, piece by piece, in a way that allows each item to fulfil a specific role, while still feeling cohesive when viewed together.

This doesn't mean we must only restrict ourselves to expensive, minimalistic pieces. I believe there's room for both high-street and high-end statement buys and basics. It's just making sure that they flatter, they fit and they won't feel out of date within 12 months. Easier said than done though, right? My personal approach is to sit with a purchase for a few days and try it on with various outfits.

If I still love it after that period and feel like I can wear it at least five ways, it's a keeper. This is essentially the basis for my shopping column this week: I went to my three favourite high-street stores (H&M, Topshop and & Other Stories) and picked out five key items that will fit easily into your summer capsule. They're all under £80 but made with luxe fabrics. Plus, the majority of the pieces will be able to be worn now and updated for the autumn. Now that's smart shopping for you.

Scroll down to see and shop my high-street capsule picks.

H&M

1. The Statement Skirt

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: The one thing that makes high-street pieces feel expensive is the quality of the fabric, and this H&M skirt certainly doesn't disappoint in that department. With a satisfying weighty swish, this would look like a million dollars with strappy sandals and a simple blouse.

2. The Safari Jacket

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: I have fully committed to the safari aesthetic this season and am currently on the lookout for a casual waist-tie jacket. This beige number fits the bill nicely, with its timeless fit and flattering length. Wear with shorts now and wide-leg jeans come September.

3. The Trans-Seasonal Dress

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: I am 100% a winter dresser, so when I saw black pieces flood the summer collections, I was a happy bunny. The crinkle fabric and simple silhouette of this midi dress feel very premium, and this would look just as good with knee-high boots as it does with sandals.

4. The Playsuit

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: Okay, so this isn't exactly a trans-seasonal purchase, but it is one of my summer winners. I see the utility playsuit as a warm-weather alternative to the boilersuit (aka the most comfortable and easy to style piece in my wardrobe). Not unlike a good summer dress, this is something you can throw on last minute at the weekend with minimal effort.

5. The Luxe Trousers

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: As someone who lives in trousers and jeans, it's all too easy to get stuck wearing the same rotation of styles over and over again. I love this silken pair from H&M, as they're flattering (thanks to the belted, high-waisted fit), and can be worn with both smart shirts and casual tees.

Topshop

1. The Retro Tailoring

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: This is one of the most flattering high-street suits I've ever tried on. Obviously it's got a distinctive '70s aesthetic (my fave), but the principle stands: A well-tailored suit that flatters your proportions is a surefire way to give you a confidence boost and make you feel instantly pulled-together.

2. The Utility Jacket

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: There aren't many options when it comes to summer jackets, but the utility jacket (or shacket) is a great way to cover up on cooler evenings, as it looks great both belted with jeans and thrown over a slip skirt or dress. I like how this Topshop iteration is unpatterned and in a neutral hue, making it more versatile.

3. The Dress-Up, Dress-Down Midi

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: I have to hand it to Topshop because they have really killed it in the wedding guest dress stakes this season. There are so many pretty printed styles in store right now, and this green midi is one of my faves. As someone who likes a high neckline, the tea dress-inspired fit was a big plus, and it has just the right amount of shape around the waist and fullness in the skirt.

4. The Wide-Leg Trousers

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: I was so close to buying these Topshop Boutique trousers, but sadly, they didn't have my size. The fabric is weighty, which means they hang really well and have a lovely shape. Also, I feel like wide-leg trousers are going to become more popular next season, so they're a good investment.

5. The Grown-Up Shorts

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: While I do enjoy the androgynous appeal of a pair of shorts, I find it hard to find a flattering fit, and that's why I like this Topshop pair, which are elasticated around the waist and looser in fit. I'll be smartening them up with a beige blazer and gold jewellery.

& Other Stories

1. The Short-Sleeved Shirt

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: If you're not someone who lives in dresses all summer, it can be hard to find enough alternatives to a white tee to wear with trousers. The short-sleeved shirt has been my saviour during the heatwave, and I have been won over by its boxy fit and minimalistic appeal.

2. The Co-Ord

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: Alongside playsuits, I think the co-ord is my other favourite new addition to my summer capsule. They're essentially a ready-made outfit and ideal for chucking on at the weekend with sneakers or sandals. Admittedly, this & Other Stories isn't the most wearable of all the co-ords I've seen (the neckline is quite precarious), but I did like how statement-y it was and thought it would be fab for a party.

3. The Nice Top

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: The good ol' "nice top and jeans" combo has become a mainstay in every woman's wardrobe, regardless of age or taste. This & Other Stories blouse is pretty damn chic, with its intricate shoulder detailing and knotted waistline and would look the part layered up with chunky gold jewellery. It would also look great with black trousers and kitten heels for work.

4. The Smocked Summer Frock

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Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: Sometimes, you just need one dress in your wardrobe arsenal, which is unashamedly and undeniably pretty. In the lightest cotton, this white midi will be a dream on a hot summer's day with leather sliders and a basket bag. Plus, the smocked top will flatter both larger and smaller busts.

5. The Flared Jeans

Photo:

Joy Montgomery

Style Notes: If it isn't abundantly clear by now, I like a bit of '70s styling, and these white flares are right up my street. The colour might not be for everyone, but I predict that this is a trouser style that will be everywhere this autumn/winter. In my opinion, this will look infinitely more polished than skinnies when paired with heeled boots and a cashmere knit.