Bargains or new season must-haves? Here’s what to snap up now in the SS19 half-term fashion hit list

Bargain doesn’t always mean discounted. Sometimes the best bargain is something fresh on the rails that you simply have to have before they’re all snapped up. As the sales and the new collections jostle for space, fashion editor Stephanie Smith has advice on what to buy now.

Caroline Flack x River Island brown print chiffon kimono, £55; bikini top, £22, Both at River Island.

It’s changeover time again on the high street as a new wave of fashion hits the stores in time for high summer.

It’s a bit of a mish-mash, truth be told, with sales and bargain rails sitting alongside the incoming fresh collections. The shops have to offload the old to make way for the new, and it can be confusing, trying to work out what we are looking at and whether or not it’s worth the price, no matter how cheap it is now.

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And is it sales time or not? For some shops, yes, for others, no. A wander through my town centre took me into Marks & Spencer, where there is no sign of a clothing sale (and probably not one until July, according to staff I asked), yet plenty of other stores do appear to be in some kind of discount or promotional situation.

Caroline Flack black print wide leg trousers, £40, scarf top, £26, at River Island.

As a snapshot, I spotted that Monsoon/Accessorize had 30 per cent off selected holiday wear, Seasalt had 20 per cent off rainwear and 30 per cent off footwear, FatFace had discount on dresses, White Stuff had a sale rail, both Mint Velvet and Whistles had 20 per cent off everything (that’s the kind of sale I like best – no messing about trying to work out what’s what), LK Bennett and Hobbs had some sales rails, Crew Clothing had 25 per cent off everything and River Island had a whacking up to 40 per cent off selected lines.

As I said, I’m a bit confused. What with this varied mish-mash of discount offers, it’s easy to get distracted in the shops right now – and that is why it’s best to have a plan. Many fashion shoppers, and some high street fashion shops, have forgotten that a bargain is not always something discounted. The best bargain is something you really want, or need, available to you at a fair and affordable price. Sometimes, it’s all about being unable to resist gorgeous newness and sometimes it’s about replenishing those wardrobe classics we rely on day to night.

There’s the lust list. Some pieces come in store and are snapped up immediately, because everybody wants them. Celebrity endorsement helps, as the Holly Willoughby Must-Haves at M&S demonstrate. River Island has launched a second collection with TV presenter Caroline Flack, who has co-designed a summer edit consisting of printed mini dresses, graphic tees, denim and holiday pieces. The bikini separates are very cool and there are quite a few items that would suit all ages (check out those wide-leg trousers; the scarf top, maybe not so much).

Rachel linen dress, £69.95; Issy jacquard bag, £32.50. At White Stuff.

In terms of classics, how about a white blazer? I spotted four styles at Marks & Spencer, all agreeably elegant and at a range of price points. If you feel like splashing out, LK Bennett has a new and completely wonderful Chanel-style pink and multi raw edge tweed jacket for £350 – that’s a proper investment piece.

In the sales, there’s a Matthew Williamson at Debenhams yellow maxi dress, featured here, and an embellished kimono jacket. This head-to-toe ensemble give an extra illusion of height and looks well thought out. A kimono jacket, incidentally, is a perfect partner for many a special occasion outfit, but also an easy way to dress up black or white jeans and simple tops for going out. It’s a holiday and travel must-pack.

The outfit from Hobbs is an impressive example of classic summer tonal dressing, teaming separates in three shades of yellow, from stronger mustard in the jacket to a sunshine yellow in the jumper and a pale pastel yellow in the skirt.

Finally, the taupe utility shirt dress from Evans is a classic but also a great bargain at half price, while the blue linen shirt dress at White Stuff is full price at £69.95, but still an example of a bargain buy – it will look better and better with age and you will wear it every summer for ever.

Anthea linen jacket, was £189, now £119; Annette skirt, £149; Paula sweater, was £65, now £45; Woodley bag, was £159, now £109; Lucinda flats, £169. All in now at Hobbs.
Taupe utility shirt dress, was £45, now £22.50, at Evans, in sizes up to 30.
MW by Matthew Williamson mustard Green Goddess Maxi dress, was £79, now £63.20; mustard embellished sequin kimono, £99.