Once in a while a word pops up which puts the fashion world in a flurry - and it's happened now. Yes, everyone's talking about "casualising" their clothes – which is basically making yourself look less than perfect. Odd that, after we've all spent years trying to make ourselves look as good as possible, but then, fashion has always moved in mysterious ways.
As we understand it, casualising is all about knocking something off an outfit to make it look less polished, or introducing elements which make the whole thing look understated and effortless. Mixing up your proportions is a favourite casualising trick – for instance, give a baggy dress some definition by tying a shirt around your waist and draping a jacket around your shoulders.
Or wear a sporty sweat-shirt with glossy courts and a prim dress. Beyonce's sister Solange was one of the first to do smart casual 2014 style, wearing sweaters with stilettos and trainers with couture. Keira Knightley is into it, too — we spotted her in a belted baggy jumper and granny boots at a posh event. So is Jennifer Lawrence who confesses: "I hate being overdressed so I try to find a way to casualise anything too showy." Whether you simply tie a shirt around the waist of your favourite slip dress, wear a baseball cap with your bodycon or wear a sheer shirt with a bodywarmer, be sure to tell everyone you're casualising.
Otherwise they might just think that you're just someone who can't get it together.
Ultra cool pastels
For years there's been a vague unwritten rule that you don't wear delicate pastel shades for work. Now, thank goodness, that edict has gone well and truly out of the window and the latest collections from iconic labels like Emporio Armani, Versace and Burberry Prorsum show that pastels can be ultra-cool and businesslike.
For instance, a tonal leather jacket will toughen up a pastel-print outfit. Darker florals are a great AW14 buy, particularly when worn cropped trousers and colour-pop heels. And don't think that a pale palette has to be sugary-sweet. You can add an edge by mixing and matching contrasting prints in oversized shapes. Thanks to the likes of Burberry Prorsum the embellished pastel pencil skirt has become one of the highlights of the season. Wear with a cropped pale shirt for work. At weekends, why not swap the shirt for a white vest and slider sandals?
If you've invested in a pleated pastel skirt just add a boxy T-shirt for work. The sculpted shape will add an edge to your floaty skirt. And why not mix textures by wearing a pastel leather skirt with a fitted denim shirt? Layer a pink jumper over your favourite white silk shirt for an instant office update. For after-work glamour, wear the skirt with an off-the-shoulder Bardot-style T-shirt.
There's an unexpected reason for wearing monster sunglasses – they're slimming! Have you noticed that a normal-sized girl can be dwarfed by a man's blazer? Well, it seems big sunnies can have the same shrinking effect.
Why else is Mrs Beckham hardly ever seen without her all-engulfing Givenchys? They're also great for reproportioning the face. Big glasses can make your nose look smaller. Then of course, there's the mystique.
One theory is that big sunglasses work like blacked-out limo windows – you can't help wondering who's behind them. And whatever you wear make sure they have wide frames. Rimless specs are a definite no-no this year.
The ubiquitous black
It was apparently car-maker Henry Ford who first said: "Have any colour you like so long as it's black," and women all over the world seem to have subconsciously taken his message to heart.
While the fashion pundits exhort us to throw caution to the winds and lash out on pastels and dazzling colour-blocking, the truth seems to be that a lot of us don't. If you want proof, look at the latest fashion industry survey which apparently found that if you look into the average women's wardrobe you will find that half the clothes are black. It would appear that this includes, three black coats, two black jackets, at least two little black dresses and up to 12 pairs of black shoes. Probably the only good thing about this stick-in-the-mud attitude is that if all our clothes look the same our partners won't realise when we've been on a shopping splurge and bought something new and expensive.
On the other hand there have never been so many bright and breezy colours around this season so why not at least have a look at what's on offer? There's all manner of pastels and florescent shades but if you prefer something a little less startling why not go for the highly fashionable cornflower or cobalt? So you see it is sometimes worth listening to the fashion pundits. And who are they? The ones wearing black, of course.