Have a novelty-free festival


The weather is promising for this weekend’s Electric Picnic so dress accordingly for the last festival of the summer

But before we settle into the darker days of autumn and start lighting fires, stockpiling tea and taking angora sweaters out of storage, there’s this one final summer-themed hurrah. And, lest you should fear the good news stopping there, Met Éireann is predicting that it will “become warm over next weekend in southern and eastern areas”. For those of you heading to Stradbally, Co Laois to take in the sights, sounds and stilt-walkers, that will be a serious load off your mud-fearing minds.

Although the outlook is positive, that doesn’t mean rocking up to rock out in your beach gear. Instead, it’ll mean eschewing some caution in favour of style.

First, there’s nothing quite so jaded as welly couture – and it doesn’t matter if yours are animal-print, glittery or have photographs of your siblings emblazoned on the sides. Wellies are simply not chic. They are the waterproof version of the Ugg boot – unflattering, difficult to walk in and sweaty. Ditch your Hunters this year and think of something a little cooler, like a pair of leather biker boots. Isabel Marant-style wedge trainers will keep you looking cool, with the likes of Topshop.comstocking funky pairs at around the £80/€100 mark. If money is no object, you can always find the real deal at Brown Thomas. Alternatively, some good old-fashioned desert boots will do the trick nicely. As with all weekends away, bring a spare pair of something in case yours should get rain-sodden, weighed down with muck or plain ol’ stolen.

Short shorts and dresses are still handy – layer yours with tights for when the cold bites at dusk – but without the worry of being soaked to the skin, jeans come back into play. Hilfiger Denim’s cranberry coloured jeans will look great tucked into dusty leather boots, and even better throughout autumn, paired with a chunky knit and heeled ankle boots.

With rain off the forecast, you can also get rid of that neon poncho you were planning on stuffing at the bottom of your bag and go for something that’s warm, still waterproof, but a shade cooler. Barbour is a tried and trusted outdoors staple, but the pictured My Tribe leather jacket has it beaten for coolness and sartorial longevity.

Above all else, think practically, and that means preparing for all eventualities. Bring a pair of leggings to throw on under a dress when it gets chilly. Pack a hooded sweatshirt for night-time, when your sleeping bag just isn’t as thermal as you were promised. Bring a pair of slip-on shoes or flip-flops for mid-sleep excursions to the loo. And do not be tempted to buy any clothes from the on-site stalls. What goes on at Electric Picnic, stays at Electric Picnic.

Leather bound to please for wedding anniversary gift

My wife and I are celebrating our third wedding anniversary this month, and I’d like to get her something leather. I have a budget of around €80 – so a handbag is out. All ideas would be appreciated.

Adam, by email

Congratulations on making it further than Kimmy K, Adam, and on being so thoughtful in your gift idea. Finding something leather on a budget shouldn’t be too much of a challenge.

Smythson is a luxury leather brand with 125 years under its (ahem) belt and it does a range of gorgeous notebooks and keyrings that feel just as good as they look. This “bright ideas” notebook in tangy tangerine is €55 at my-wardrobe.com.

These studded gloves (€49.76 at Asos.com) are another great option.

Leather gloves are both classic and versatile, will keep her warm when the weather cools down and the studs make them very current. They also come in black.

Finally, this salmon coloured wallet by Aubrey (€82 at Arnotts) is another classic yet versatile piece in leather and (almost) within budget. If you fancy being extra cutesy, you could fill the wallet up with mementos from your relationship – old ticket stubs, photographs of the two of you, airline tickets from holidays you’ve taken – or a voucher.

A classic handbag that will stand the test of time

I’ve just turned 21 and I received a bit of money. I’d like to use it to buy a handbag that will last me through college and beyond. I don’t want anything brightly coloured or embellished. I’d like it to be roomy enough to fit my iPad but I don’t want a massive weekend-type bag, and I don’t like suede. Any suggestions? I have about €1,000 to spend.

Cathy, by email

Well, Cathy, aren’t you the lucky one? You have a plethora of options. Mulberry is an obvious choice, and for good reason: its bags are well made and finished in the best leathers, and will stand the tests of time and changing trends. The newest bag on the block is the Del Rey (€990 at Brown Thomas), which may be right up your alley. Even though it’s been spotted on everyone from Sienna Miller to Jennifer Lawrence, it’s not showy enough to be an “it” bag, therefore it won’t go out of style any time soon. My only qualm is that it hasn’t got a shoulder strap, and if you’re planning on toting your iPad, chances are you don’t want to be holding it in a ladylike vice grip as you negotiate your way through life.

Milli Millu is a new range of leather handbags designed by management consultant turned handbag designer Mireia Llusia-Lindh, who wanted to design handbags that were both cool and functional. The Hong Kong (£455/€573 from millimillu.com) is one of the fruits of this labour – a soft black leather handbag with minimal gold hardware and a shoulder strap. Its triangular shape is unique and eye-catching, but it also has a timelessness that will see you through years to come. Plus, you’ll have plenty of change for when the iPhone 5 comes out in November.

Last, Marni has a great reputation for its accessories. It does an excellent range in both timeless and trend-led pieces, meaning there’s something for everyone. This leather tote (€990 at net-a-porter.com) is the kind of thing you could imagine being handed down by your granny. Its classic shape and understated detailing give it a chic look, while the shoulder strap lends versatility. Plus, its streamlined briefcase shape means that while you’ll get your iPad in there, you won’t be tempted to stuff it full of bric-a-brac and spoil the pulled-together-professional illusion.