Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Monday, 9 June 2008

I wouldn't do this but it does sound like fun

A few mates go to Manchester for a spot of shopping.

Ronke (pronounced Ron-kay) sweeps into the room in a riot of colour - from her draping orange and pink dress to her long tan leather coat tied with a green scarf at the back. I have a suspicion she's wearing a 1970s curtain but decide she must know what she's talking about.

We, her 'patients', line up on the sofa ready to be transformed into fashion-conscious divas; eager to discover our own style. We are four women in a city, contemplating a weekend of shopping. But this is Manchester not Manhattan and we haven't done our hair. Rather, we have booked a personal styling weekend to spruce up tired looks and get insider's tips on the latest trends. Our home from home will be a designer riverside apartment stocked with the latest Apple gadgets and a fridge full of organic treats.

The dress

According to Hilary Alexander, news of the dress's death have been greatly exaggerated:

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.

. . .

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.

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.

dress down
dress up (it's a cocktail ring)