06 August 2010

Lamb dressed as Mutton

How to work autumn’s grown up silhouette in your twenties

With the autumn/winter trends now settling into focus in the latest fashion pages, it’s becoming clear that one look will be reigning supreme for the next few months.  In its various guises, Vogue has tipped it the ‘new restraint’, others are celebrating a new cool minimalism or a Mad Men-inspired lady-like elegance, but one thing’s certain: whether channelling the 50s or the 90s, this new look is a very adult strain of dressing.

Prada AW 2010 campaign

Louis Vuitton AW 2010

So what’s a girl to do should she be a few years off having a profession, never mind a professional wardrobe?  They do say to dress for the job you want, not the job you’ve got, but this leads one to consider how to work this look without appearing prudish.  After all, you don’t want to end up looking like you’ve just raided mummy’s wardrobe.  Following these guidelines will ensure you get a head start on the new season, not ahead of your time.

Marc Jacobs AW 2010

Daytime glamour should come in the form of casual, good quality separates and pretty dresses.  Take inspiration from Prada and Louis Vuitton and invest in quality accessories: long leather gloves, knitted knee-high socks and pointed courts.  As far as tailoring goes, watch the hemlines: work a full a-line skirt with a shorter hem than the original 50s look to showcase legs; after all, if you can’t do it in your twenties, when can you?  That said, midi lengths are big news for autumn.  Should you desire to lower your hem, try pairing your sensible skirt with a casual t-shirt to restore the balance or clash fabrics: a heavy leather skirt with a cotton or silk top.  The juxtaposition of laid-back grunge and lady-like sophistication will make sure the effect is more Audrey Hepburn than Miss Marple.  

Audrey Hepburn: the master of effortless chic

Miss Marple

For evening, try adding flashes of colour to a 50’s-style cocktail dress.  Whether in the form of a patent pop-art inspired Lulu Guinness box bag or the entire dress, such brightness will keep your look playful and youthful. Favouring a boyish silhouette?  Look to Gucci and Chloe’s version of the new trouser or channel the chic urban cool seen at Dries Van Noten: tweed skirts with boyfriend jumpers and orange leather gloves, military cigarette trousers and flashes of leopard print.  The lesson learnt here is to don your grown-up grey suit with an aloof insouciance (sunglasses optional) and rolled up sleeves to make sure you’re not taken too seriously.

Dries Van Noten, AW 2010

Ultimately the key to demure grown-up dressing is to mix and match your pieces so that you don’t end up looking too stiff.  After all, such juxtaposition is where fashion leaves the realm of costume and becomes more interesting.  And if all else fails, apply lashings of black eye liner to ensure your reticent exterior doesn’t betray wallflower tendencies.

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