How to be this year’s best dressed guest

KIMONO SLEEVES ARE YOUR FRIEND - 
Kimono sleeve dress, ?215, from Vera Mont.

KIMONO SLEEVES ARE YOUR FRIEND - Kimono sleeve dress, ?215, from Vera Mont.

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If you have a wedding or special celebration to attend this year, Stephanie Smith has a guide to getting it right in statement style, with eight fashion facts you need to know.

It has been said that the kindest style decision a bride can make is not to force her bridesmaids into shiny peach satin.

DRESS UP/DOWN STYLE IS EFFORTLESSLY CHIC: Biker jacket, �59, Maison de Nimes; skirt �160, Keepsake The Label. Both at House of Fraser.

DRESS UP/DOWN STYLE IS EFFORTLESSLY CHIC: Biker jacket, �59, Maison de Nimes; skirt �160, Keepsake The Label. Both at House of Fraser.

Wedding guests do not have to be forced into any particular colour or style, not usually anyway, and yet why do so many of us force ourselves into the sort of hideous creation we would never dream of wearing in our day-to-day lives? I have the pictures to prove it, most of them of yours truly.

The thing is, we want to make an outstanding effort. We want to bless the union of those we care about with a thoughtfully considered, bold statement outfit that says: “I’m here, I’m proud and I’m celebrating”. It’s such a shame that we choose to do so in garishly coloured, oddly shaped garments that we believe will look mighty impressive when we first try them on in a shop, perhaps egged on by a well-meaning store stylist who hasn’t a clue about what makes us feel confident and comfortable. And then we see the photos …

But this year, it will be different. This year, for weddings and other very special occasions, we will dress to impress in clothes that are fashionable, beautiful … and suit us brilliantly. No more hideous creations. Here’s a guide to statement dressing for 2017:


Dress up/down style is effortlessly chic: Experiment by mixing dressy pieces with something usually considered more everyday. So take a beautiful skirt (the chiffon monochrome printed one here with ruffled up-and-down hemline is seasonally and aesthetically perfect) and team with a biker jacket, as here, or a lovely sweater, or a white shirt (of which more later).

MAKE YOUR PRINT WORK: Marcus Butterfly trapeze dress, �229, from Jigsaw.

MAKE YOUR PRINT WORK: Marcus Butterfly trapeze dress, �229, from Jigsaw.

Kimono sleeves are your friend: It’s all about the volume sleeve this spring/summer, which is excellent news because they are a simple, flattering and elegant way to show off forearms and wrists. A kimono jacket, cape or wrap will work over them much better than a fitted tailored coat or jacket.

Shine works day to night: Sometimes, all you need is an easy summer dress with added shine, like this strapless, frilled coral and gold number. Wear with heels, a clutch and optional statement necklace for events, with sandals and a floppy hat for holidays.

Often, less really is more: Who can argue with a flattering wrap dress in an exquisitely soft shade and a silky, fluid fabric, paired with toning, contemporary, ultra-elegant heels? It needs nothing else, although a toning jacket will probably be needed (consider a grey silk bomber).

Make your print work: Consider print and pattern carefully, especially if it’s an all-over design. Choose something elegantly artistic in a monochrome or restricted colour palette. The striking print here highlights the full skirt and sleeves, turning a simple shape into a masterpiece.

SHINE WORKS DAY TO NIGHT: 
Coral diamond clipped jacquard dress, ?180, Somerset by Alice Temperley at John Lewis

SHINE WORKS DAY TO NIGHT: Coral diamond clipped jacquard dress, ?180, Somerset by Alice Temperley at John Lewis

Take one white shirt: Not an ordinary white shirt, but one with a contemporary silhouette, in a beautiful fluid fabric, and team with a pair of tailored black trousers that suit you perfectly, whether wide or slim-leg, cropped or long. Or you could try with that statement skirt.

Bring out the shoulders: Forget decolletage and legs, the shoulders are this year’s most alluring part of the body, and very much on display when sitting at the wedding breakfast table. Keep it stylish by making sure the neckline is not too low. Looks lovely with hats.

You don’t have to wear heels: There are some truly gorgeous and dressy flats to be had this spring/summer, from metallic pumps to chic suede espadrilles. Lovely for daytime, and you can always switch for heels for the evening… unless you really want to dance.

OFTEN, LESS REALLY IS MORE
Grey wrap midi dress, ?119; nude suede sandals, ?109; from Mint Velvet in York, Harrogate, Ilkley and at John Lewis.

OFTEN, LESS REALLY IS MORE Grey wrap midi dress, ?119; nude suede sandals, ?109; from Mint Velvet in York, Harrogate, Ilkley and at John Lewis.

TAKE ONE WHITE SHIRT: White shirt, �59, and black high waist trousers, �65, both by Kin at John Lewis, available in April.

TAKE ONE WHITE SHIRT: White shirt, �59, and black high waist trousers, �65, both by Kin at John Lewis, available in April.

BRING OUT THE SHOULDERS: Blossom pink off the shoulder long sleeve ruched dress, �525, Irresistible at Snooty Frox in Harrogate.

BRING OUT THE SHOULDERS: Blossom pink off the shoulder long sleeve ruched dress, �525, Irresistible at Snooty Frox in Harrogate.

YOU DONT HAVE TO WEAR HEELS: Wrap front dress, ?140, at Betty Barclay. See Mint Velvet and Dune for beautiful flats.

YOU DONT HAVE TO WEAR HEELS: Wrap front dress, ?140, at Betty Barclay. See Mint Velvet and Dune for beautiful flats.

Autograph fuchsia top, �39.50, and trousers, �45, coming in November.

Fashion: M&S and the listening project