First, a big shout-out to Banana Republic whose assortment has been stellar recently. Their knitwear, which I’ve tried, laundered and tested across various styles and colours for four months, is much better quality than it used to be. I took a risk purchasing knitwear from them again, and I’m glad I did. BR is also making great progress on size inclusivity, and are one of the few retailers offering petite sizes. A couple of weeks ago they launched a workwear range that is responsibly woven from recycled plastic bottles. Well done, Banana Republic!

This week’s roundup is about relatively simple and affordable items that are easy to add to your style, yet make a refreshing difference. In other words, you’ll get a lot more for your fashion buck than you expect. It’s nice to see the colour-rich assortment too. 

1. Bella Vita Italy Sandal

I’m VERY thankful to brands like Bella Vita, Naturalizer and Munro who make good quality and comfortable shoes in classic and trendy silhouettes across a range of widths. Munro is comparatively pricey, but the other two less so. If it weren’t for these brands, I would not be able to wear sandals since I need a narrow width (and sometimes even the narrows are still too wide.) The Bella Vita Italy Sandal is what I call a no-nonsense Euro classic. Refined, comfortable, simple, neutral, not too trendy, well made, versatile, and practical. You see a similar look every season, and it doesn’t get old. I have these on order in white in a narrow width.

2. Banana Republic Striped Cotton Sweater

This is not a regular striped sweater. The back stripes are a little different to the front stripes, which creates a visually interesting effect on the top of the sleeves. The silhouette is cropped yet fluid so it’s great worn over wide crops and skirts without the need to tuck for waistline structure. It’s cotton-rich and machine-washable. The red stripe is combined with blush pink and that’s the one that earned a place in my wardrobe.

3. Wit & Wisdom Ab-solution Denim

I have many happy clients in Ab-Solution denim bottoms because the fit is flattering and comfortable on most body types. The waistbands have a hidden elastic panel on the inside that shapes, smooths and lifts to create a streamlined silhouette. The rises aren’t too high, the denim doesn’t stretch out too much, and the soft fabric moulds to the contour of the body. I added the last pair of long dark denim shorts to my beach and pool capsule. They look great worn with a bikini top and open slouchy shirt plus sunnies, beach tote and slides.

4. B.P. Faux Leather Crossbody Bag

A useful and well-made little faux leather crossbody at a good price that comes in three colours. It’s neat and tidy against the body, and isn’t too bulky. The flap is quite easy to manage. It’s great to carry as a second bag to work with a large tote or satchel. I vote light blue, especially if you have light blue eyes.

5. J.Crew Contrast-Edge Woven Strap

These guitar straps are an effective way to add a little casual pizzazz to an outfit. Simply swap out the shoulder strap of an existing crossbody or shoulder bag with one of these, and you’ve created a new vibe. They work well on small bags and larger bags because the straps are wide and comfortable. The hardware is a matte brushed gold and very subtle. The red is blocked with blush, and the dark neutral is navy. You can get them for a song with the oh-so-frequent J.Crew flash discount, so I ordered all of them and am deciding which to keep. So far the red and yellow are strong contenders, which I will remix with all sorts of handbag colours.

6. Atheta Athleisure Joggers and Travel Pants

If you don’t enjoy travelling in jeans, shorts or leggings, try a pair of Athleta Atheleisure joggers or travel pants. Fits work for a range of body types, and the quality is great. Most of them are black, but some come in tan, brown, burgundy, navy, cream and olive. Sizes go up to a US16. They are made of technical fabric, don’t crease, are very comfy, wash well, and have an elastic or part elastic waist. Some styles are lined with a very cosy jersey.

7. Banana Republic Fuzzy Trucker Jacket

Oh, my word. What an enchanting little jacket! It’s stretchy, SUPER cosy, structured, soft, unique, and quite daring. The fit is great. Boxy, but moulds to the body in a flattering way. It’s well-made, and the fuzz does not irritate my eye or nasal passages. The inside seams are bound and the buttons have a darling matte finish. The light blue launched me into orbit after working with the reds, citrons, whites, pinks and blues in my wardrobe so well. I wore it right away with last season’s light blue Furla that is a perfect colour match. Now I need shoes in the same shade of light blue. It’s a fearless and fun piece in my wardrobe.