Fashion: How to dress for date night

Red shoulder detail maxi dress, �110, Myleene Klass at Littlewoods.com.
Red shoulder detail maxi dress, �110, Myleene Klass at Littlewoods.com.
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As Valentine’s Day approaches, Stephanie Smith has advice on how to dress when romance is in the air (or when you’re hoping it might be).

Relationships experts tell us that couples who take the time and trouble to get together for a bit of “we-time” are more likely to remain together than those who don’t.

Black floral lace overlay dress, �50, in now at Wallis.

Black floral lace overlay dress, �50, in now at Wallis.

Clearly, there must be something in this advice. Surely it’s better for marital or long-term stability to go out on a regular basis with your partner, rather than join those rowdy packs of all-male or all-female revellers (most of them middle-aged) who bar-crawl their way around our town and city centres most Thursday and Friday nights? No doubt there are those who will argue that a night out with the girls or the lads helps to keep their relationship fresh, and that it at least gives them something to talk about, but I’m not convinced of the motives of those who prefer single-sex nights out – certainly not those who stuff themselves into too-tight clothing and clouds of nasal-burning fragrance.

Besides, the date night is now very much “a thing”. The idea is that you step away from your regular routine, get a babysitter for any children you might have, and reconnect over dinner, or drinks, or perhaps a film (although that seems a bit of a cop-out, if the idea is that you actually make the effort to talk to each other).

So, the first rule of date night is, make sure you have them, and make sure you have them regularly, be that weekly, or monthly, or twice-yearly (there is no normal; it’s what feels right to you. As in, it depends on how often you can be bothered).

Second rule of date night is, be surprising. How you dress is an important part of this. There’s no point in wearing clothes that your other half sees you in every day, even if it is one of your favourites. Beloved items of clothing are rarely alluring. Baggy jumpers, cosy leggings and sweat pants are not the costume for date nights, so make an effort.

Navy lace dress, �150, at Phase Eight.

Navy lace dress, �150, at Phase Eight.

The current utility trend, chic as it is for workwear and weekends, is also not the best way to go about a date night. Some men don’t understand the concept of women in flat combat boots and slouchy khaki trousers. As as for culottes, they appear to find them disturbing, for some reason I have never been able to fathom.

Off-the-shoulder is my tip for date nights. Cold shoulder is what the trend is mainly called at the moment, which does in fairness reflect the downside to this look. It’s chilly. But it’s ideal if you are going to a restaurant that you suspect will be warm. And, if you don’t think your shoulders are appealing enough, you don’t have to expose them fully. For this spring, there are dresses and tops with straps that tie on the shoulder, or ones with capes and loose, floaty sleeves with slits that shoulders can peep through. Arguably far more sexy than mounds of Sharon Mitchell- style shoulder (honestly, why can’t that woman keep a top on properly?).

Lace is another good bet for a date night, especially if it’s not something you wear usually. A simple dress that suits you, with lace sleeves and possibly also a lace overlay to the skirt that allows leg to be glimpsed, will always be alluring. Look out for navy rather than the more obvious black, and avoid red lace, even for Valentine’s Day (especially for Valentine’s Day).

A red crepe or silk dress, however, is an excellent idea, or a simple shift or gentle fit-and-flare shape in red jersey.

Orange knitted cold shoulder top, �20;  ruffle skirt, �32; orange laser cut heels, �35. All Dorothy Perkins spring collection.

Orange knitted cold shoulder top, �20; ruffle skirt, �32; orange laser cut heels, �35. All Dorothy Perkins spring collection.

Turning to night attire, a silky dressing gown offers an ensemble that could keep the night going in style, once you return to your hotel or home. The one featured here from George at Asda is a snip at £10 (I’ve checked and it is available, online at least, at the time of writing). As a gift, it would be so much more welcome than a set of scratchy underwear. Be warned.

Floral print red dressing gown, �10, available now from George at Asda.

Floral print red dressing gown, �10, available now from George at Asda.

Heart satchel, �90, at Dr Martens in Leeds and online.

Heart satchel, �90, at Dr Martens in Leeds and online.

Continental quilting: Quilting is the must-have statement take for AW17 cosy dressing, as massive puffa coats provide daring takes on outerwear. Some come in wallpaper prints, some in satins in vibrant mustard and jewel brights, and Stella McCartney teamed a muddy green oversized quilted coat with tweeds and a silk headscarf, like a blown-up version of the Queen. Oversize quilting in bright yellow by Rihanna as part of Fenty's AW17 ready-to-wear collection seen in Pari. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

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