09 June 2010

I got to spend a day in Browns Hotel last week playing with Tiffany jewellery and showing how it worked with high summer and pre-collection trends. Standing up, for seven hours, in front of a room full of fashion savvy ladies, crystallises a thought or two about the ideal summer working wardrobe.
My default jacket felt too tight. My crisp white shirt was going to be a wrinkled mess by breakfast. The silk option was a perspiration hazard. The atmosphere was informal but the room was too smart for jeans. And, in any case, all that Tiffany needed a statement dress. But it was 20 degrees outside. Wardrobe crisis!

On top of that the day kicked off at 8am, setting up mood boards and dressing mannequins for the breakfast meeting: a proper workout. If you’ve never done it, I’d like to suggest that the only experience that comes close to wrestling a five foot ten inch mannequin into Stella McCartney cigarette pants is getting a toddler, rigid with rebellion, into a car seat. There followed six hours of presentation plus question and answer sessions in front of an audience with red carpet grooming standards. Apocalyptic wardrobe crisis!

In the end, the one item that really worked was a jersey dress from Alexander McQueen’s pre collection that had just landed on Selfridges first floor. £445 worth of genius in silk and wool jersey: when I first saw it I did think I could spin a look out of it for the trend presentation, but decided I had to have it myself.

I’ve spent all summer lusting after the Donna Karan jersey dresses. I’ve spent what seems like ten years wanting a Lanvin one. Something always comes between us: this year it was a new boiler that sucked up my Bond St budget. But my patience has been rewarded with this column of deep purple, tissue weight, silk and wool. Pull it down and it could hit mid calf but I hitched it to hit just below the knee (wrinkly bits resolved!). It’s cut on the bias with a scooped neck. The drape is generous enough to camouflage fat bits and yet the asymmetry of that bias cut carves out a waist and the soft neckline sharpens the shoulders. I could have added a belt but decided against it in the heat. The Paloma Picasso ring and my new navy suede Celine ankle strap shoes were quite enough.

Got to look sharp this summer? A whisp of Alexander McQueen jersey is a no brainer.

- Paula Reed


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