Need a new look? Here’s how to reset your wardrobe for spring

<span>‘Not all Mary Janes were created equal.’ Shoes, <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk=";elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link "></a>; blazer, <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk=";elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link "></a>; T-shirt, <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk=";elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link "></a>; necklaces, <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk=";elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link "></a>; model Amiee at Premier model management; makeup & hair by Dina at <span></span>; shopping bag, <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Propped Up;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Propped Up</a></span><span>Photograph: Andrew Woffinden/The Observer</span>

Can I wear wide-leg trousers even though I’m only 5’2?
Yes, you absolutely can. The look is so chic and I say that confidently because I’m 5ft on the dot and I love a wide-leg pant. The things to think about are the tailoring, the fit and the fabric. As a shorty, you need to get them from the petite section or find a tailor you trust to take them up. The issue with altering them yourself is there’s a certain definition you want with wide-leg trousers and if you’re not a seamstress you won’t get it right. Make sure you take two pairs of shoes with you: the highest shoe you’re going to wear with it and the flattest shoe, so you can strike a happy medium with where the trousers are going to sit. With wide-leg denim, always wear a sturdy platform or wedge. Go for pants that are sold as three-quarter length or cropped for the “average”-height human. Cos have some great culottes and M&S come up trumps for petite girls.
Candice Brathwaite, influencer and author

How do you wear loungewear without looking lazy?
What you’re after is a curated, considered, clean look, as well as comfort. Achieve it by fusing high-quality lounge pieces with daywear. Wear a perfect pair of high-quality jersey leggings with a cashmere sweater or hoodie, say, and a beautiful wool coat. For a luxe lounge look that comes away from the sofa, consider your accessories very carefully. Have you got a beautiful shoe or trainer to wear with your chosen pieces; a statement handbag to take out with you; the right earrings? Mix a luxury aesthetic with functionality so your outfit straddles utility and a fashion trend you’ve spotted. You still have to make the effort, even though you’re slightly downplaying your dressing up.
Barbara Hoorspool, clothing director, The White Company

My teenage daughter wears giant gold hoop earrings and they look so good on her. Can I copy her look? How do I find the perfect size for me?
Anyone can get away with any sized hoop – there are no hard rules – but for me it’s all about confidence and hair style. I loved wearing super-large hoops, but since chopping off all my hair I feel they overwhelm my face. My daughter, meanwhile, has long hair and this, as well as hair volume, helps to balance hoop size. The key is to analyse your hair. If you wear it down, go for medium to large. If pulled back and you’re feeling bold, go big; or, for low-key, choose a small huggy. Is your hair straight and fine or voluminous and curly, which might hide smaller hoops? Hoops always reflect my mood. My favourite enamel-striped mini-hoops (above right) from designer Marte Frisnes come in lots of colours, as well as a great all-round medium size that fits just about everyone. Or go for some sparkly huggies from The Hoop Station, small and neat but with a touch of embellishment. I still like a large but not oversized gold hoop. Simple is best, like Otiumberg’s Large Vera hoop – a real classic.
Deborah Brett, fashion editor and designer

How do I break the habit of wearing navy and black all the time, and introduce colour into my wardrobe?
To move away from black, it is just a question of investing in an accessory that’s unique, colourful and above all bold. A really simple trick is to buy inexpensive T-shirts in a range of colours to layer underneath for a pop of colour. Or start with something small and achievable, such as a scarlet lipstick (Hermès Rouge Cinetique is one of my crushes). Another great way of wearing colour by stealth is to layer it in, but under your normal basecamp colour: slip a brilliant blue nylon parka under your black or camel winter coat, for example. Oh, and don’t forget the earrings….
Lucinda Chambers is a co-founder of Collagerie and Colville

Is it possible to buy a fashionable men’s suit that doesn’t cost a fortune? And, while we’re on this, what is a fashionable suit anyway?
The suit has undergone a remarkable transformation. Covid killed the suit as office wear and miraculously it was reborn. The new rules for the suit are: anything goes, just don’t make it normal. Go patterned, go brown, go flared, wear a long jacket with big collars, patch pockets, 70s detailing like a swelled edge. Don’t worry so much about the fit, make it bold, try secondhand, eBay, charity shops, raid a parent’s wardrobe. Enjoy.
Patrick Grant, presenter and designer

How do I make an oversized blazer not look like I borrowed it from my husband?
I always pair an oversized jacket with cropped trousers or jeans – they can be slim or wider – and wear either trainers or a small heel with bare ankles. That way it looks like a deliberate style choice, and not just a piece that is too big. I do wear oversized jackets with longer trousers too, but they need to be slim, or the whole look drowns me. I love a white shirt under a jacket, done up to the top; either collar or grandad work well. Trainers help to bring it down a level for everyday wear. I recommend rental from Mywardrobe HQ, or buy Raey at Matches, Phoebe Philo if you are loaded, Joseph for the well-heeled, or Aligne for the rest of us!
Jane Shepherdson, chair of mywardrobehq

How do I style a brogue with a midi skirt? Sock or no socks?
I’m an advocate of wearing what you feel comfortable in but I prefer an ankle sock with a brogue. It feels harmonious and makes sense. A flash of skin between skirt and sock works and it’s a part of most people’s bodies that, regardless of size, they are happy with showing. I love a cashmere sock with a brogue. Miu Miu does some great ones, and so does Pantherella. Have some fun with the look: think Japanese-inspired, bows, lace-up. Try
Jeanie Annan-Lewin, creative director, Perfect magazine, led by Katie Grand

I always find my eyeliner under my eyes at the end of the day. How
do I keep it looking fresh?
Before applying eyeliner, blot your eyelids and undereyes with a tissue to remove any oil left. Then apply concealer and sweep a sheer veil of powder under the eyes and from eyelid to brow bone. Once it is set, apply a primer on your lids for a smooth base and define your eyes with an eye pencil. For even longer wear, apply my Perma Precision Liquid Eyeliner over the pencil.
Pat McGrath,

As a man wanting to ditch the same old T-shirts and invest in overshirts and worker jackets, where should I start?
You don’t have to ditch the T-shirt: that’s the great thing about a chore jacket – it dresses it all up; I love the versatility of the design. It’s an incredibly easy, forgiving shape to wear. It’s an easy layer to give your look polish. Zegna has a great shirt-jacket style, in Oasi-linen, that is a refined version for summer. For winter, the same style comes in cashmere. Think of it as a blazer and use it in the same manner. For smart events look for something in velvet for a dressy dinner, or it can be as casual as linen with a T-shirt or corduroy over a polo shirt. You can wear them with a shirt and neck-tie or over a jumper – there are so many possibilities for interpretation. Le Mont Saint Michel is the originator, and offers a host of colours. I’d recommend navy blue as a first buy and pop the collar up for some added style attitude.
Bruce Pask, senior editorial director, Neiman Marcus

I’ve got a mish-mash of gold and silver jewellery and can never work out how best to wear them together, so I tend to keep them separate. Am I missing a trick?
It’s definitely worth experimenting. Combining gold and silver feels contemporary and confident to me. Gold and silver were practically made to be mixed – the contrast adds a real depth and I think it’s super elegant. I love to throw on a few silver pieces with my usual gold stacks; I have a silver diamond eternity one I love to wear next to my chunky gold rings. Whether it’s earrings, necklaces or rings I’d say: try not to overthink it – just see what looks good to you. Personally, I like to layer highly polished pieces with textured ones to create a contrast. Rather than mix them half and half, I like to lead with one finish and then add only a touch of the other as a highlight. So my favourite bangle stacks would be a load of silver thin bangles with just one single chunky bangle in gold – it feels incredibly simple and stylish.
Monica Vinader,

What investment pieces should I prioritise? Bags, sunglasses, belts, coats, something else altogether?
I follow my mother’s advice to this day: invest in the coat, the bag and the shoes and you will never go wrong! My favourite sleeper hit for outerwear is the Matches Fashion brand Raey. And Prada and Miu Miu are longstanding go-to’s for shoes and bags that never date. I wore a pair of crystal-encrusted Miu Miu heels for my wedding reception and still pull them out for nights out.
Kenya Hunt, editor-in-chief, ELLE UK

What is the easy way to moth-proof cashmere and other wools and fabrics?
Clothes moth larvae are not the only pests that damage wool and cashmere. Carpet beetle larvae, referred to as “woolly bear”, are also voracious consumers of wool. If you have wool carpets, vacuum regularly – especially in dark corners where pests can become established. Cedarwood balls and blocks, lavender bags and commercially available moth traps can help keep clothes moths at bay. For a serious infestation, fold your knitwear with acid-free tissue, pack in well-sealed polythene and freeze at -20C for two weeks to kill larvae and eggs, and wash after freezing.Wash your jumpers using a wool-safe detergent and have tailoring dry-cleaned before storage after the winter wear, as pests are attracted to stains and body odours. Knitwear should not be hung in wardrobes, so store in zip-up, breathable canvas bags which will keep the pests out; tailoring can be stored in similar hanging bags.
Rosamund Weatherall, senior textile conservator, National Trust Textile Conservation Studio

What coat can I wear all the time that looks smart and modern?

Nothing beats a classic trench coat, worn slightly oversized in a longer length. In terms of style, keep it simple – minimal with classic button and belt details. Either wear it open and billowing with the belt knotted securely at the back, or belt it. If you’re belting it, tie it in a half bow and use a concealed safety pin on one belt loop to stop it sliding free. Don’t be afraid to experiment with colour. Camel always works, but I’d also consider black, navy, khaki and brown. Explore alternative fabrics; leather, rubber and lacquer high-shine styles are all a good idea. Best places to pick one up: Arket, Zara, Aligne, Jigsaw and Kassl.
Davina Wedderburn, head of brand and communications, British Fashion Council

How do I layer my necklaces without them getting tangled up?
I would say mixing up your lengths is my go-to tip for avoiding your necklaces tangling. You can also mix up the weights – for example, not wearing many delicate necklaces of the same length together – or pick necklaces in different materials, such as layering chains with pearls or beads. Always store your pieces individually (preferably in a soft-lined box or pouch) so that they don’t rub together, scratch or tangle – and fasten your chains before storing them.
Marisa Hordern, founder and creative director, Missoma

I live in jeans. What other trousers do you suggest for a middle-aged man that aren’t chinos or weirdly smart – and how do I style them?”
For something that sits between denim and tailoring (and swerves the chino), I’d suggest a roomy, higher-waisted pair of classic “fatigue” pants, either from a vintage store or army surplus, or buy new from Blacksmith Store, a perennial source of bargains. They’re defined by rectangular patch pockets on the hip, a straight-cut leg, and a vibe of green-fingered stoicism. Otherwise, stop in at Carhartt WIP for a pair of their double-knee trousers in cotton canvas, which look surprisingly good with loafers.
Charlie Teasdale, writer and stylist

I want to ditch my white trainers. But what do I wear instead?

Trainers confuse me. I just can’t quite get my head around them, so I’m thrilled yours are bin-bound because I would like to raise you one Mary Jane. Not all Mary Janes were created equal. I adore Le Monde Beryl’s tiger-print style, which is surprisingly versatile and can sit happily with oversized black trousers or a knee-length skirt, but in truth is probably not suitable for all ankles. A little more forgiving is a Mary Jane with a block heel. I buy mine from Carven – the silver colour, weirdly, goes with various hues, skirt lengths and denim styles. If you’re feeling very rich, The Row has a delightful pair. Sandy Liang’s come in powder blue satin powder blue satin with two straps for the more coquettish Versailles look, while Penelope Chilvers does dressy silver Mary Janes. Or, if on a budget, head to Chinatown for the ubiquitous fabric version, often in a box at the back of the shop.
Alexa Chung, model and designer

What sort of bras are flattering if you have a larger bust?
Every good outfit starts with great foundations. Different bra shapes have different purposes. If you want an uplifted rounded shape, a balconette with a side support is the one for you. A plunge is perfect under low-cut outfits as it will emphasise your cleavage. If you are looking for a smooth look under your clothes, a padded T-shirt bra is a great option. There is a misconception that a padded bra will make your boobs look bigger but when it’s the right size, it can be minimising. Some bras have extra features to look out for: deeper back bands for more coverage and support, clips on the straps at the back to stop your straps from falling off your shoulders, multi-way or detachable straps to work with different outfits. There is a huge variety of shapes to choose from to complement any outfit. Think about having a few staples in your bra-drobe, such as a versatile strapless bra for support under outfits with different necklines, a seamless bra that disappears under our work clothes, and a plunge bra for low-cut looks. For the best results, always get fitted by an expert.
Ria Matthews, customer experience manager, Bravissimo

I’m a man turning 40. What shoes should I be wearing?
Invest in some decent shoes; never scrimp, buy the best you can afford. A nice round-toe Oxford style pretty much goes with everything. Grenson are my go-to. M&S do a good Derby and I love their M&S Originals penny loafer. A simple white trainer is useful; try Axel Arigato’s Clean 90 style. Stay away from super pointy or square-toe smart shoes – specifically the slide-on loafers with vertical seams. Never wear patent shoes unless it’s with black tie.
Luke Day, celebrity stylist

How do I cut my fringe? Every time I try, it comes out too severe or lopsided…

Invest in getting one cut in professionally and then do the upkeep at home. Buy a pair of thinning scissors from Boots – they give you a wispy end and not a blunt cut. Cut it dry and in a well-lit room. Section off the fringe; tie the rest of your hair in a ponytail so you’re only working on your fringe area. To get a nice, soft, graduated look at the sides, pull the fringe forwards and twist it round and cut with the thinning scissors so there’s no sharp line – it’s more forgiving. Cut just under eye length, then style your hair to check you are happy. If it’s still too long, go back in and cut some more – you can always take more off, but you can’t put it back.
Lou Teasdale, hair stylist and entrepreneur

What nail colours feel very ‘now’ in terms of manicures?
Red nails are making a triumphant return, stepping back into the spotlight with a contemporary twist in the form of deep hues and metallics. This resurgence comes as no surprise, given the timeless allure of red. Amid this red revival, there is also a notable shift towards lightness and airiness. Departing from sombre tones, this year embraces a palette of fresh simplicity. There is a preference for sheer, delicate layers, crafting an ethereal and contemporary aesthetic. Within this trend, our Nail Strengthening Treatment diminishes nail ridges and surface imperfections, creating a rosy, translucent hue that also doubles as a nail polish when it is applied with two coats. Margaret Dabbs, founder,

I want to buy one handbag. Just one. So what shape and colour will work with everything?
Think about your needs; I can’t have a tiny bag for everyday use, I need to fit my laptop, phone, hair brush and wallet. I carry a preloved Chanel Grand shopper because it’s classic and roomy enough. Chanel bags are an investment you can always resell or pass it down and pre-loved prices are a fraction of new. Featured on Reluxe in the classic size, this Mansur Gavriel Black Classic Bucket bag (£125) is perfect for everyday use. One of the brand’s signature pieces, it has been seen on the likes of Katie Holmes, Sienna Miller and Kirsten Dunst. For a neutral piece, go for the Chloé Georgia Crossbody Bag (£125) first featured in pre-Fall 2015. On the high street, Cos have really good understated logo-free leather bags. I like the folded shopper in black leather (£155). I’d never be embarrassed to go to a meeting with a Cos bag. Or for a new designer investment choice The Toteme T lock cross body bag is one of those clean smart everyday bags that goes with anything and has space for all the essentials. It’s not cheap but it’s a style that won’t date. You could wear it in the evenings, to business meetings and wear it at the weekend. I would always choose navy or black, it doesn’t mark and it’s timeless. I love brown bags but they scuff. If this is your one purchase, go for a darker bag. They wear better.
Clare Richardson, founder,

How do I get a smoky eye without using a million complicated eyeshadows and brushes?
With smoky eyes, remember some eye shapes can look smaller if you make your lines too harsh and maybe something that you might have done at 20, now might not be as flattering for your eye if you’re 40. I always think softer is more flattering than harder. For me, the trick to nailing a simple smoky eye is by using a cream-based eyeshadow (I go for Trinny London Eye2Eye in Universe). I like to get a thin brush, such as a lipstick brush, and run it along the top lash line. I then go in again under the brow bone in an upward line, at the same angle at which I would wear my hair up in a bun. The angle you’re going to want for the perfect smoky eye should mirror how you wear your hair up. If you wear your hair scraped back in a ponytail, make the angle straight back to your hairline. If you wear it as topknot, make the angle higher and then back on to the brow bone. Follow by blending out with a slightly bigger brush to soften the edges. Then go under the lash line, again with that thin lip brush, and use the fluffy brush to blend it out, so you never get a hard line.
Trinny Woodall, Founder and CEO, Trinny London

Why can’t I find a pair of mid-rise jeans? Aren’t they fashionable any more?
Mid-rise jeans aren’t having a massive moment but eBay is a great place to find any pre-loved denim classics. Top browsing tip? Filter your search. Know the brand, size and colour as it’s the best way to find what you’re looking for. There’s a huge denim range available: from Gap to vintage Levi’s, perfectly frayed Balmain, Y2K Diesel low riders, rare Marques’ Almeida, Jean Paul Gaultier and Ralph Lauren. My personal favourite are Citizens of Humanity and A Golde. They’re quite an investment if you buy new but you can get real bargains pre-loved. And of course there’s always a vintage Levi’s 501 – you can’t go wrong with those.
Amy Bannerman, eBay’s pre-loved style director

Is the French tuck outdated? If so, should I tuck in or leave out?
It depends on the style you’re going for, but I’d say the half-tucked shirt is a modern twist and looks effortlessly chic. It works with a shirt on its own tucked into jeans or with a sleeveless sweater over it, accentuating the waist just enough to give you an elegant silhouette. It’s better to avoid fabrics which could wrinkle easily, like silk or linen.
Morgane Sézalory, founder of Sezane