High is the new low

June 16, 2009

high-waisted vintage skirtSpurned since the 1950s, it re-emerged in earnest two seasons ago courtesy of Valentino’s Spring Paris collection, only to be steadfastly ignored by even the hottest high street trend-setters.

But this season it has spread like wild fire, onto the cat-walks and into Topshop, showing no sign of abating in it’s quest to re-introduce a style fashion has neglected for more than 50 years: the high waist.

Like it or loathe it, the waist is back with a vengeance. And after having all but disappeared from the scene in the ‘60s, every shop on the high street is choc-a-bloc with a glorious array of waist-cinching ultra-feminine skirts and trousers.

The timing of the reintroduction should be seen as part of a bigger picture. Last week’s International Women’s Day provided us with the chance to pause and reflect on gender equality – and nothing reflects society in a more visual way than what we wear.

Rejected for its house-wifely connotations, women, who were competing for the first time with men for jobs and social status, moved in the 1960s to a more androgynous style of clothing which emphasised flatter chests and slimmer hips, heralding the beginning of heroin-chic on our catwalks.

This was taken a step further in the ‘80s to Thatcher-esque shoulder pads, equipping women, visually at least, with a formidable demeanour to compete with their male counterparts.

So what has sparked a return to celebrating a style that harks back to the days when a woman’s most pressing task in life was to have dinner on the table by seven? Have old quarrels been forgotten? It is a sign of the times that women are secure enough to start flaunting this part of their anatomy again?

Perhaps because it oozes tailored-chic, the high waist flatters almost every body shape. But for those whose waists are more curvy than chiselled, there are a vast array of styles to suit everyone –no wardrobe should go without.

True to form, Topshop has produced its range with a nonchalant funky vibe, playing on the ‘50s theme, yet using bright colours and modern patterns to update this style.

Its floral prints are particularly flamboyant and mirror the cool attitude exuded by Versace’s glowering models, who stomped down the catwalk dressed in mini high-waisted silk shorts from the spring/summer 2009 collection.high-waisted skirt

Cheap and cheerful, Primark have a vast array of bargain buys for the fashion conscious. Their stripy A-line mini-skirts (£9) are a particular favourite, and add flair to a summer wardrobe.

But care should be exercised when approaching high-waisted shorts and trousers. These styles tend to accentuate even the faintest of curves, so be wary: this style is not for everyone. Wide-leg jeans and trousers are more forgiving and give the illusion of legs that go on and on.

It has taken a while for fashion to re-embrace womanly curves. Perhaps it’s just been too long since they were seen last, but whatever the reason, there’s no doubt that a cinched waist will instantly achieve a kind of vampish appeal men just can’t compete with. Or resist.

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Tights, glorious tights!

December 7, 2008

For the lithe-limbed, choices are endless.

Swirls, tartan, shocking pink, paisley –  you name it, you can probably find it – Mod Cloth and their peacock feather tights are a particular favourite of mine.

But if your legs are shapely rather than gazelle-like, even a hint of colour adds pounds.

I have coaxed myself into the changing rooms many a time, in the hope that funky tights will not do my (unfortunately short) legs an injustice…to no avail.

Each time I once again promise myself faithfully to black leg-wear; a colour with which you simply cannot go wrong. Not only are they fantastically slimming, but they make even the most crutch-skimming of clothes socially acceptable.

Dependable they may be, but with so many wierd and wonderful tights in the shops this season, you cannot help but feel a little out of the loop.

The answer: Chanel!

Chanel have up-ed the anti with their two-toned tights. Epitomising cool, classic chic, they are perfect for office-to-party wear, but most importantly, they give your legs a wonderfully polished, chiselled look, thanks to the leg-lengthening strip at the back.

Attributed to MissLovely

Vogue’s Jessica Bumpus advocates Chanel’s sheer variation (see here) which, darker above the knee than they are below, are equally desirable – and add a surprising amount of length to legs too.

For a more affordable variation on a winter necessity, River Island do 40s-style tights; neutral with an iconic black line running up the back. Accessorize have the same in black.

For tights-enthusiasts, Csakura has a great blog on Fasity (see it here).

Christmas Colour

November 18, 2008

What better colour to rescue us from our credit-crunch blues than a splash of pillar-box red?

Style icons Kate Hudson, Scarlett Johansson, Katie Holmes, Liv Tyler and Natalie Portman have all been spotted donning the statement scarlet, and it’s a firm favourite this year with Alexander McQueen, Versace and Valentino, who have used it to give their clothes a dramatic and modern flair.

Scarlett Johanssonvalentino spring 2008

Quintessentially British, pillar-box red evokes that best-of-British spirit and Christmassy feeling, but comes with a luxurious twist. A look perfected by Martine Mccutcheon in Love Actually.

I have been coverting some bright red leather gloves after I saw them in October’s Vogue. So far I have spied a few, the most beautiful being a pair of cashmere-lined red Italian leather gloves by Forzieri, spotted on Agnes Deyn after the Chanel Boutique opening night in London. Topshop also do a funky (and cheaper) pair. Head-to-toe crimson is not always appropriate, but a splash is an ideal way to spice up a winter wardrobe.

But there is nothing like the overstated glamour inherent in a bright red, beautifully tailored coat, which oozes just the right amount of sophistication, confidence and sexiness to make you stand out from the crowd.

I’ve seen a few scarlet-clad ladies strutting their stuff on the streets of Cardiff in the last few weeks, but didn’t pluck up the courage to scuttle after any of them to find out where they got their coats from…bring on the christmas sales!

But for those in the know, red is always a firm favourite. Italian fashion designer and style-god Valentino Garavani, said:

Red has guts…. deep, strong, dramatic. A geranium red. A Goya red … to be used like gold for furnishing a house … for clothes, it is strong, like black or white. – Valentino

Love Actually