According to Hilary Alexander, news of the dress's death have been greatly exaggerated:
Basically, this is an argument for the LBD and its vairiants, ie it doesn't have to be black. But she's right, accessories maketh the outfit.
But the "special occasion outfit" has passed its sell-by date, to be replaced by the "new special": a way of dressing that is much easier to achieve - and a lot more fun.
It's a trend long pioneered by a host of funky, high-profile, stylish dressers, from Gwen Stefani and Natalia Vodianova to Kate Moss, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and the reincarnated Gwyneth Paltrow - and it hinges around one adaptable wardrobe staple: the dress.
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This season, they are everywhere - prom styles, floaty maxis, romantic, ruffled, you name it. And they are key to making this idea work. The trick is to invest in one great dress that makes you feel good, rather than "appropriate"; one that suits your body shape, highlights your personality, and makes you feel comfortable, confident and sexy.
It could just as easily be something you have worn on holiday, for work, or a favourite piece you have had for years, as something bought with a specific outing in mind. Then, you just "dress up the dress", adding accessories and layers as you feel inclined.
The best thing of all about the "new special" is that you can dress it down just as easily. You should be able to take off the jacket, swap your pill-box for a straw "pork pie", trilby or even a sun hat, trade your smart high heels for gladiators and your beaded clutch for a casual tote - and you're ready for a beach party or barbecue.