Here’s a sign that Spring is on its way, heralded by one of my favourite posts of the season – the Inès de La Fressange at Uniqlo SS20 preview. We’ve been granted an exclusive early look at the collection again but before I show you the clothes, remember that with this range you have to be quick. The online allocation often sells out by midday and just because something is in your basket, it doesn’t mean it’s yours – if someone else checks out sooner, it will be gone.

Rather than taking inspiration from a particular era or location, this year Inès says her inspiration has come from timeless French summer style that works in the city or on the coast. It’s a reflection of the way that a lot of retailers are heading, focusing on pieces that are less fashion led. The good thing about Uniqlo is that you know the collection will have quality behind it with natural fibres that always wash and wear well.

As usual, the styling on the website is a mix of the instantly wearable interspersed with quirky French chic which shows how the collection can be adapted by age and by look. Let me give you an idea – this classic outfit modelled by Inès would be easy to pull together…

Inès de la Fressange at Uniqlo SS20

Cotton / linen blend blazer; cotton lawn shirt; relaxed fit trousers

… whereas this takes a little more thought…

Inès de la Fressange at Uniqlo SS20

Left: paper fedora; checked blazer; cotton twill tunic; cotton checked trousers

Right: cotton / linen blend jacket; cotton twill tunic; twist pleated long skirt

… but shows how classic pieces can be worn together using accessories to add a twist.

Inès de la Fressange at Uniqlo SS20

Left: cotton rayon shirt; wide vintage belt overlaid with narrow vintage belt; fedora; relaxed fit trousers

Right: rayon crepe dress

Inès de la Fressange at Uniqlo SS20

Left: cotton collarless coat; cotton/linen blend embroidered shirt; narrow vintage belt; wide fit chino trousers

Right: linen blend blazer; cotton/linen blend tunic; vintage belt; twist pleated long skirt

Inés de la Fressange at Uniqlo SS20

So, because I know you probably want to start shopping, let’s move on to the pieces I selected to show you. It was a challenge this time – we were shrouded in fog all day yesterday and the clothes didn’t arrive until late in the afternoon so all I could do was a try-on inside. As always, a lot of the collection is based on navy punctuated with ivory and red and you’ll notice that a few of the bestsellers are back again, updated for a new season.

Outfit 1 – Retro sports chic

My first choice has a touch of sports retro about it that appealed to me instantly. I like the way that the stripe is echoed right through the outfit without matching perfectly. Jackets like this are useful in spring, I already have a navy Inès one in this style so I thought I’d try the ivory this time. I tend to wear mine with jeans but it works well with midi skirts too and it can be a great option instead of a blazer. I’m wearing the medium and it’s true to size but I think it would balance wider bottoms better if I’d sized down.

Ribbed blouson jacket; short sleeved t-shirt; relaxed fit wide leg trousers

The top is just a step away from a plain t-shirt but more interesting with its stripe detail. It’s a straight cut made from high quality, heavy cotton. The stripe has the same effect on the trousers – a plain navy pair can look very uniform but the stripe lifts them away from that. They’re made from lyocell which is a fluid sateen type fabric, they have a sharp front crease and an elasticated waist so they’re really comfortable to wear. I have regular length legs and they’re exactly right for wearing with flats. I was sent a medium in the t-shirt and a large (30 – 31 inches) in the trousers which were slightly big so I’d say both pieces are true to size.

Short sleeved t-shirt; relaxed fit wide leg trousers

Outfit 2 – easy summer chic

Shooting this in January means I’m having to stretch my imagination but in my head it’s a warm summer’s day.This looks like a dress but it’s actually a skirt and top in a floaty fabric (polyester based rayon). Twist pleats are having a comeback this year as part of the 90s revival and I’m sure we all remember how good they are for travel. I took a couple of skirts like this around India for a month in 1996 and they coped well with being screwed up and stuffed in a rucksack.

This outfit works styled as a maxi dress or, of course,  you could wear the skirt with a plain tee and the top with jeans. Note what a lovely neckline the top has and the tiered skirt has an elasticated waist. I was surprised by how much I like them together because I thought they might be a bit boho for me but they would be great to wear in summer, especially if you’re going to be somewhere hot. Other colours and prints are available, I’m wearing a medium in both pieces and they’re true to size.

Twist pleated blouse; twist pleated skirt; leather D ring belt

As you’ll see I’ve added one of the belts from the collection, don’t overlook them because they’re a great price for something that is high quality leather.

Twist pleated blouse; twist pleated skirt; leather D ring belt

Outfit 3 – a transitional spring look

This last outfit is my no brainer because I think it would suit almost anyone. I’m going to start with the shirt because I’m so pleased with the colour although if sky blue isn’t for you, it’s also available in ivory or navy. It’s an Inès classic that’s been slightly updated with subtle embroidery rather than the usual pintucks on the placket (much easier to iron). As always, the red buttonhole signature is there on the cuffs. I don’t often wear shirts with collars but these don’t sit too high on the neck so I make an exception. I’m wearing a medium and it’s true to size.

The wide trousers are a mid-weight wool blend with turn-ups and sharp creases down the front that visually help to narrow the hips and lengthen the legs. I love the fact that they’re so high waisted, there’s something very Katherine Hepburn about them. I’m wearing a 29 inch waist and I’m on the smaller side of a size 12 at the moment, they’re a neat fit so if in doubt, size up. – and they’re also available in camel.

(As you can see Rosie is filling in for Gary on the photobombing front. I was talking to her about Teddy’s imminent arrival but I don’t think she was getting it!)

Cotton/linen blend embroidered shirt, wool blended wide trousers

The mac is lighter than I expected it to be, it’s polyester and I’d call it a duster coat which makes it a good weight for summer. I requested the camel colour but was sent the ivory and the first thing I thought when I tried it was how useful it would be if you were going to the races in summer or to a wedding and weren’t sure about the weather. When you’re all dressed up a heavy mac can ruin your look but because this is so light, it would fold up small and look chic thrown on over a floaty summer dress.

It’s also a good alternative for anybody who finds a double breasted trench too flappy to wear. Being single breasted this is a neater fit and you have the option of wearing it open with the belt tied at the back to cinch it in. The hood is detachable, bear in mind that it is very light though so although it would cope with a summer shower, it wouldn’t handle a downpour very well. Also available in navy or camel, I’m wearing the medium and it’s true to size.

Hooded coat; Cotton/linen blend embroidered shirt, wool blended wide trousers

I’ve finished the whole thing off with one of the silk scarves because I don’t want you to miss them. They’re such a great price and they’re always one of the first things to sell out. I’ve tied it to my bag here because it wouldn’t work with the shirt collar but it would look lovely with jeans and a white tee.

Silk scarf

So with that I’ll leave you to peruse the collection. As always with Uniqlo it’s on short release – they cater for a wide audience by running limited collections with people who work for each demographic. Quality underpins everything that they release and I really do think they’re one of the most intelligent retailers on the high street at the moment. Long may they continue to do what they do.

Disclosure: ‘Inés de la Fressange at Uniqlo SS20’ was commissioned by Uniqlo but all content and personal outfit photos are my own.

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