Enjoy the red-carpet treatment
Updated: 2006-06-26 11:40
Deciding what to wear to formal
occasions can throw even the most assured dresser into a panic. Where dress
codes were once easily interpreted - or at least they were by seasoned
party-goers - these days they are confusing and have few rules. Is your Balmain
cocktail dress smart enough for Glyndebourne, or will that Rochas gown be too
grand for a summer ball?
Summer trends are flowing towards floor-length gowns this
Summer trends are flowing towards floor-length gowns this year
The red-carpet effect is partly to blame. Ever since designers wised up to
the global impact of the right celebrity wearing their dresses, we've been
bombarded with images of show-stopping gowns at every conceivable event. While
this has admittedly given us more ideas, it has also blurred the boundaries of
what's appropriate. Most of us know it's not fitting to attend a smart party
looking like a member of Atomic Kitten, but it is often less clear just how
dressed up we really should be.
Fortunately, floor-length gowns are one of this summer's biggest evening-wear
trends, which should simplify dressing for big occasions. The hostess gown - a
glamorous, printed style last worn in the Seventies - is back in truly dazzling
Some of the most eye-catching examples come from Adriana Barra - a Brazilian
designer based in S?o Paulo, whose collection has made its debut at the London
boutique Matches this summer. Barra's printed silk and jersey dresses don't come
cheap, but they are spectacular and - as Bridget Cosgrave, Matches's buyer,
points out - many of the styles are reversible, so you are getting two dresses
for the price of one.
Of course, there are plenty of mainstream labels with long, exquisitely
patterned dresses in their collections. Missoni and Pucci are reliable sources
for breathtaking (and breathtakingly expensive) gowns in exotic prints and
But there are a lot of cheaper options to be found. Mid-range labels such as
Coast and Monsoon have pretty much cornered the market for long feminine gowns,
but other labels such as Jesir¨¦ have equally good alternatives.
The temptation with such flamboyant dresses is to accessorise to the hilt,
but this should be avoided. They look more modern with glamorous, jewelled flats
rather than high heels - although you need to be tall to pull it off. Wear just
one piece of stunning jewellery: an imposing necklace, a metallic cuff, or a
pair of ornate earrings, and carry a simple clutch bag - Wilbur & Gussie has
beautiful silk versions in bright colours and fun patterns.