Fashion: Dance show puts new spin on evening wear

Mink grey strapless and net dress  by Tony Bowls, from Your Dressing Room, Central Arcade, off Briggate in Leeds.

Mink grey strapless and net dress by Tony Bowls, from Your Dressing Room, Central Arcade, off Briggate in Leeds.

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Strictly Come Dancing is inspiring a trend for ballroom style fashion. Stephanie Smith seeks out copy-cat dresses worthy of a dance-off.

Forget Tess and Brucie, never mind Brendan and Sophie, or Natalie and Artem, or even the bombshell that is Kristina Rihanoff. The real stars of Strictly Come Dancing are the costumes.

Those lavish sequinned and ruffled creations bring glamour and glitz to our Saturday and Sunday night, and the best moment is that first glimpse, when the celebrities and their professional partners emerge at the top of the Strictly staircase to show off this week’s fabulous creations.

The programme has coincided, perhaps not coincidentally, with a renewed interest in big, glamorous dressing up for evening. At charity balls and social events, no longer do we see endless line-ups of women, each and every one wearing an apologetic strappy “cocktail” satin dress.

Instead, we see women of all ages and sizes prepared to dress properly for the occasion, in long, extravagant ballgowns that sizzle and sway, just like those of the Strictly contestants.

Julie Trigg, owner of special occasion shop Your Dressing Room, at Central Arcade in Leeds centre, believes Strictly has had a positive influence on eveningwear.

“I think the programme encourages people to dress up and have the confidence to wear glitz and glamour, which was not quite the case several years ago,” she says. “There seemed to be a time when people felt uncomfortable dressing up, but possibly disappointed to have to dress down to conform.”

Of course, we can’t all have access to Strictly’s team of skilled designers, cutters, stitchers and seamstresses who create stunning couture pieces week in, week out. But, such is the inspiration generated by the costumes, both High Street and independent fashion stores are offering some rather luxurious and ravishing dresses that wouldn’t look out of place on the Strictly ballroom floor.

The term “godet” will be familiar to those who watch the It Takes Two show on BBC2 every weekday night. As Strictly costume designer Vicky Gill frequently explains, it refers to the pieces of cloth stitched in a gown’s hem so that it kicks out as the dancer moves. Godets have now made their way into mainstream fashion, so now we can all move with our heels kicking out of a flurry of fabric – how fabulous.

Then there are fitted and flared floor-length gowns, the Gatsby-style shimmy and feather dresses and skirts, the netted prom-style dresses, the split-to-the-thigh dresses, those daring cut-out styles that somehow manage to stay put (usually worn by the honed professional dancers), and those rather raunchy creations that are little more than a bodice with a frothy train.

So you shall go to the ball ... even if you can’t dance a simple waltz, let alone a Paso Doble.

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