• how to do

    LADYLIKE CHIC

    LOOK FOR SIMPLE SHAPES IN PRETTY

    PRINTS OR WITH EMBELLISHMENT

    THE FLOATY COAT
    Sheer, diaphanous and oh-so covetable. Wear over a plain white shift.

    THE PRETTY/ EDGY DRESS
    Pink? Tick. Lace? Double tick. Black ‘tape’? Heaven.

    THE FILIGREE COLLAR
    A simple way to nod to the trend, for work or play.

    Erdem to Chloé and Valentino, the SS13 runways were flooded with lace, ruffles and chiffon in a pretty palette from pale putty to soft lilac cream: ladylike as hell. So, will it be possible to get through spring without at least a nod to the trend? Probably not.

    Now, ladylike is a splendidly difficult look to pull off if you’re as hard-wearing on your clothes as me, but as usual, we’re not talking To The Exclusion Of All Else. I once saw Elle Macpherson in the hairdressers in a dusty-pink twinset and skirt from Alaïa, looking so fabulously feminine I almost wanted to curtsy. Unfortunately, we aren’t all Elle – a demure pink look takes a lot of height to give it attitude – but the rest of us don’t have to work it that far. Yes, those flesh-pink, full-length gowns that floated down the Valentino runway with their puffy sleeves and sweet little bibs are divine, but unless you have an Oscar to collect or a film at Cannes to promote, it’s tricky to mix them into your day-to-day dressing. But

    a little froth should be encouraged. The key to not looking too ‘icky’ is to edge it up a bit.

    Take the way Christopher Kane’s fondant-pink diaphanous shift is appliquéd with strips of black faux masking tape. Or his pairing of
    a super-delicate gauze pencil skirt with a Frankenstein T-shirt. Note, too, the transparent panels and peekaboo cutouts in Erdem’s
    prim, sugary frocks – and the
    sheer amount of flesh bared in
    the guise of girliness. And then there are those magnificent T-strap platforms in powder-blue lace – it’s all very The Umbrellas of Cherbourg gone mad, somehow.

    And why stop there in your quest to de-ickify? Very, very sooty eyes, perhaps; no bra, if your bosom can

    “Maybe a little girliness is a NICE DEPARTURE from this confusing age where ANYTHING is supposed to go”

    take it; maybe an Anne Hathaway crew cut? Me, I’m thinking of the Chloé runway with all those Pierrot ruffles and flounces and metallic Mary Janes (how does the Mary Jane manage to look sexy and demure at the same time?).

    So what is it with this resistance so many of us have to our inner princess? Is it a fear of looking
    too ladylike? Why is ‘tough’ such
    a default button for so many of us? Maybe a little girliness (dressing up as though you’re going to tea with the Queen, say, or meeting your boyfriend’s parents for the first time) is a nice departure from this confusing age where anything, but anything, is supposed to go. Yes, dressing like a girl requires a certain amount of discipline: you can’t carry around leaky pens or
    eat with your fingers, for example. But then, isn’t discipline freedom? Isn’t tyranny too much choice?

    Anyway, I’m off to get a bottle
    of Apple Blossom by Helena Rubinstein, the fruit-fresh perfume of my teenage years. Boy, does
    that super-sweet smell bring back happy memories.

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