It is cold, rainy, grey, icy, or snowy in most of the northern hemisphere, with many more months of the same weather to follow. Spring is not on the horizon, and shopping for warm weather wardrobe items seems far, far away. It seems ridiculous to be thinking about Spring and Summer when all you want to do is wrap up and stay dry. But it isn’t. Retail is better at aligning its merchandise with the weather, but you still need to purchase some items far in advance. 

1. Hunt for Swimwear in February

It’s best to begin the swimwear hunt in February, with collections peaking in March and April. By the time you decide you need a new bathing costume in July and August, the assortment is picked over and the sizes are gone, especially when you like to wear swimwear tops in bra sizes.

One of my style goals for 2018 is to put together a Modern Retro swimwear capsule for our coastal holiday in Italy at the end of June. I want to have the pick of the crop, enjoy the process, and not have to settle. So I started looking at swimwear options in the first week of January, and have already bought a fabulous cover-up by Seafolly. Now I can take my time with the cozzie and be picky, patient and practical.

2. Start Looking for White Jeans Now

If they’re on your shopping list, start looking for white jeans now. Fresh merchandise comes through from January to April. After that, stock levels deplete rapidly, especially when you need petite, tall or plus sizes in silhouettes that aren’t high-rise body-con skinnies. I’m in the market for one more pair of white jeans, and I’ve started looking already.

3. Get Spring and Summer Jackets and Raincoats By April

Retail buyers tend to put jackets and raincoats in their assortments at the start of the new retail season, which means January to April. Start looking for a warm weather raincoat now, and make sure your lightweight Spring and Summer jackets are sorted by April. Most of us are wearing Winter coats till then, but the Spring and Summer versions will be scarce by the time you want them at the end of April or May.

4. Get Covered Warm Weather Clothing Soon

Spring and Summer collections are hitting retailers earlier and earlier. They used to surface mid to end Feb, but with the unstoppable movement to online shopping, transitional Spring collections are available from as early as the first week of January.

Spring and Summer collections become skimpier, lighter, breezier and more casual the further along we are in the season. If you prefer a warm weather look that is dressier, more covered, sleeved, longer, and made of substantial fabrics, shop early in the season. The retail industry thinks we’re on vacation by the time May, June and July roll around and supply us with shorts, tees, sleeveless casual tops, skimpy dresses, and little else.

5. Look for Dresses Throughout the Year

Suitable dresses are hard to find, especially when you set out to look for them for a specific event. Usually, you’ll find the right dress when you’re NOT looking for it. I learned this the hard way. I now have a new dress shopping strategy: I am ALWAYS on the hunt for dresses. In-season, off-season, full price, on sale, across all sorts of retailers, and when I travel. You never know when you’re going to bump into a fabulous dress.  I can relax into the process of adding dresses to my wardrobe, I don’t settle, and I have the perfect dress on hand when I need it.

A fortnight ago, I bumped into TWO fabulous and reasonably priced Topshop dresses that are perfect for Summer. I bought them right away, in the beginning of January with ice on the ground. They’re hibernating until it’s warm enough to wear them, which will be at least four months. That’s fine by me. No more vacation dress stress.