Dress to impress
PUBLISHED: 12:00 14 July 2009 | UPDATED: 15:03 20 February 2013
Is there an important date coming that you don't even have to refer to your diary to remember? A wedding, christening, garden party, perhaps a significant anniversary or milestone birthday? Or is the summer's busy social calendar already setti...
A special occasion always calls for a special outfit and whether you favour the quiet sophistication of the most neutral shades or revel in a glorious mix of colour, this is the time to buy.
Some choices are easier than others. Some looks will date swiftly, others earn their keep for another season, perhaps even two.
SIMPLICITY is often safest but only if you commit yourself totally. A completely plain dress with no sleeves, collar or adornment is a classic that can be co-ordinated with a perfectly tailored coat or jacket. This look is clean cut, almost too sharp for some figures. But it can be softened with a little gather of fabric on the dress, a filmy sleeve, the narrowest belt or a single bow... Either way the idea is to stick rigidly with a single colour, top to toe, keeping accessories equally pristine, pared down and probably pearl.
But rules are there to be broken and this clinical chic can actually be improved by adding jewellery that is anything but understated - an armful of bangles, a neckline filled with rows of chains and glassy beads, and cocktail rings that glisten like a chandelier!
NEUTRALS - as the year progresses we have grown more used to those non-colours in tones impossible to describe. If you haven't tried some yet, go shopping immediately. The partnership of something that is far from white (but nowhere near a true taupe or grey) and a little texture or sheen is nothing short of magical. Find the right version to complement your skin tone and you will keep going back for more.
PURE WHITE is really coming into its own for high summer. There is nothing else (apart from black or navy which work equally well) to set off a lovely new tan! If a block of white as solid and smooth as an imperial mint is just not your cup of tea, worry not - opt instead for loosely-woven knits, ultra fine linens and shirt fabrics that require a layer underneath, or have fun with crochet, macramé, burnt out patterns, even cute lace effects in white. In this case, do stick with the rule - all white is right.
MONOCHROME is another look regarded as a classic but for 2008 it is anything but. Black and white are worked hard and cleverly by designers creating new balances between the two. They work well with equal shares of florals, white lightens black dresses and polka dots swap black-on-white with white-on-black for different looks.
MOLTEN METAL - if you have been put off metallics because they were a tad hard-edged in past seasons, take a deep breath and try again, because like neutrals there is one for every woman. Golds are anything but brash, many so stunningly subtle they guarantee you can bask in reflected glory. Silvers and darker shades of pewter are equally smart and create instant va-va-voom. Beyond these are mellow interpretations of bronze and copper, always warm and easy to accessorise. A great molten metal suit or dress will hardly need jewels to dress it up, and metallic accessories are handy for many looks this season - softer than true colours with white and neutrals, easy in shoes with just about anything.
DIVE INTO COLOUR! All those women who have been waiting eagerly for this summer's most gregarious colours will find their heart's desire. Flowers especially favour seasonal shades of pink, blue, yellow and green. Greens stay solo in variations on mint, lime and Granny Smith. The best browns are tasty chocolate, usually of the milk variety, while another dark alternative is smoky or vivid amethyst.
Whatever your colour theme, the focus for summer is on femininity. A soft-focus girlie-ness that loves finishing touches like ribbon ties instead of buttons, sweetly swooping necklines and skirts that flirt around the knees.
Need advice on stockists? Please note this editorial is a guide only, we cannot guarantee what is pictured will be in specific stores. All collections featured are stocked in or around your county. Need more information? Write to Fashion Editor Jane Garner, PO Box 608, Shrewsbury SY1 IWQ, call her on 01743 271615 or email email@example.com