Every now and then, a perfectly curated, affordable collection captures the imaginations of all fashion-loving girls, no matter personal style preferences, budgets, shopping habits or wardrobe aims and ambitions.
One such collection has come to the fore this season, and the accompanying evidence is splashed all over social media. John Lewis & Partners' new collection is everything we've been waiting for: classic, flattering, quality staples created in myriad colourways that come together to build out the most coherent capsule wardrobe ever. This isn't about faddy one-season wonders. Instead, this thoughtful and considered assembly of ultra-useful, still-interesting pieces is chock-full of the kind of keepers that will work just as well in four (or 14) winters' time as they do right now.
Jordine Lam, partner and personal stylist at John Lewis & Partners, confirms a concept we've backed for years now: "It's all about how you wear it," she says. Personal style is a life-long project that doesn't centre around buying the latest supposed "must-have" but instead can be cultivated out of re-wearing your favourite items and constantly finding ways to make a look feel like your own.
Unique personal style is exactly what the lineup of well-dressed ladies represents in the gallery below: They may all be wearing the same high-street collection, but their take on it couldn't be more varied. Keep scrolling to see John Lewis & Partners' womenswear collection in action.
"When winter comes round, I think we tend to put our brightly coloured clothes away because we've been tricked into believing that bright colour is seasonal," says the ultra-stylish influencer Candice Brathwaite.
"I live for colour!" she tell us, clearly having a knack for putting together bold combinations without fear. So what's her secret? "When it comes to giving advice to someone looking to explore their personal style this season, I would say: Take risks! Try things you've never tried or stayed away from because a magazine article made you feel like it wouldn't suit you. The minute I let go of the expectations is when I began to dress in a way which pleases me. And when it comes to dressing ourselves, that should be the most important thing: making ourselves happy."
Candice is also keen to break some old-fashioned rules when it comes to styling. "As a petite woman, I should perhaps shy away from long coats or wide-leg pants, but I love how powerful these pieces make me feel. I'm no shrinking violet, and I think the way I've styled these outfits reflects that."
"With an hourglass shape, the best thing you can do is draw attention to your waist," she explains. "Whenever I wear a shirt, I tuck it in to help show my shape more. Also if I'm going 'out out,' I very rarely actually wear my coat. I love to drape it over my shoulders, as more of an accessory."
Jordine Lam is a John Lewis personal stylist and has played around with the collection so much she's cemented a really key way to wearing colour that anyone can adopt: She recommends wearing head-to toe tonal shades in complementary colours, like a green blouse and green cord trousers with a grey jacket. Want further proof? Just check out the perfectly crafted look above: subtle and approachable shades of green and khaki, autumnal textures and a little new-season newness via her snake-print pumps—10/10.
"During autumn and winter, I would say my default style would be some form of knitwear and a pair of skinny trousers or a skirt. You can pair the outfit with ankle boots or statement shoes if you want to dress up a little, or wear them with trainers for a cool, effortless look," says Jordine, providing us at the same time with inspiration to match a handbag to a stripy jumper some time very soon…
"Basic but chic," says influencer Gabrielle Basset of @gabriellewearsdenim in regards to her personal style, noting that these seemingly simple black trousers are a particularly perfect fit—a holy grail in tailoring, if you ask us.
She's a fascinating example of just how much of a different aesthetic you can create using the same items as other people. With the very unique addition of a beret, her look is instantly catapulted into more Parisian territory.
"Once the temperatures get colder, I'll add a wool coat, a faux-fur collar, and some chunky boots," says Gabrielle. She also agrees that a smart way to inject extra verve is via some small-but-effective accessorising flourishes: "Add a little neck scarf over your thick wool jumpers or a pop of colour via your gloves—both make for a stylish autumn/winter look."
If there are two women who are definitely going to persuade you into having more fun with your clothes, it's these ladies: Gemma and Bertie are fashion stylists and friends who have a joint Instagram over on @mothershoppers.
"I get very excited about A/W because of the coats," says Gemma. "I tend to keep the underneath fairly simple and let the coat do the talking." When it comes to knowing how to make bold colour combinations feel easy-peasy, she has some sage advice: "Try mixing colours from the same family, e.g., raspberry and bright red, baby blue and cobalt."
Bertie has ideas should you want to go a step further: "Typical autumnal colours (rust, orange, ochre, burgundy) look great clashed with pastels (pale pink, baby blue, lemon)," she tells us.
Bertie's skirt-and-sweater combo negates the need for a fabulous coat at this time of the year, but it also speaks to her style profile: "A typical outfit would be a feminine midi dress, jumper over the top, long wool coat, and tough flat boots," she tells us, having chosen some chic trainers instead because they "go with everything."
Bertie's go-tos include loose silhouettes, texture clashes, unusual colour combinations and a fresh attitude towards what you choose to wear on a daily basis: "Don't keep things for best or work—just use the high/low method: A fancy dress (high) needs tough boots (low), or a smart suit (high) needs to be paired with trainers (low). It mixes up your personal style and gives you options. Experiment!"
Kate Hiscox of Wears My Money found her dream smart-casual outfit in this Crombie coat, cosy jumper and culottes combination. "I rarely ever wear heels; I’m a big trainer-girl. I love a great coat and a super-soft chunky knit jumper, but I'm also a fan of a wide-leg cropped trouser—so it's a look I feel really comfortable in. Smart, but not too smart. Not overly glam—just right!"
She wasn't the first to pick up on the power of a bright mini bag set against a classic winter overcoat, either. "Even just a bright-coloured bag will really lift an outfit," she explains, confirming this is a no-fuss method for curating a more individual look.
Being a John Lewis personal stylist means that Katie would have seen the collection before everyone else, and therefore put first dibs on the pieces she loved most. It also means that she has time to think on how a new-season wardrobe can be tailored to different types of women.
"I'm always encouraging my customers to step out of their comfort zone when it comes to selecting clothes," she says. "Experimenting with different styles and looks really helps us to learn what works well for our body shape." She advises anyone looking to explore their personal style to pick an item that doesn't fit their typical wardrobe and start experimenting. Noted!
When it comes to her own wardrobe, Katie's all about wearing classic, understated pieces with a dash of fun and colour—hence the mustard scarf brightening things up in her look pictured above. "Due to the heavy double layering of the neutral tones, I had to add some colour. For some skin tones and hair colouring, this would work really well and look simply beautiful, but for myself, as I am fair, I needed to apply some colour around my face. A scarf is a really quick, simple way of doing this."
“My style in general is quite simple and classic. I take an elegant and chic approach but without being too formal,” says Sofia Gouveia, a lifestyle influencer and working mother. With those two pillars in mind for her wardrobe, it’s no surprise that she’s a firm believer in buying quality over quantity. For anyone looking to improve their personal style game Sofia has one key piece of advice: “Invest in good quality, timeless items and then style them with a more trendy piece or accessory, if you wish to give it a more fashionable look.”
One such wonder-item is the double-breasted, tailored coat she has cherry-picked from John Lewis & Partner’s womenswear collection. “This coat in particular it’s perfect whether you dress up or dress down,” confirms Sofia, who chose to style hers with matching pumps and oversized shades. “Wear it with leggings and trainers and it looks stylish but casual and elegant, or with a skirt or dress and give it a little bit of a more classic look—you can never go wrong.” What’s more is that it seamlessly fits into her existing autumn/winter wardrobe of neutrals: “My colour palette for this season always works around the beiges, whites, greys and now I’m introducing a bit more of black.” Sometimes, the tried-and-tested staples really do win out.
SHOP OUR EDIT OF JOHN LEWIS & PARTNER'S WOMENSWEAR COLLECTION