Fashion: Lacy season

Lace and pleated Pomona dress, �195, from Studio 8.
Lace and pleated Pomona dress, �195, from Studio 8.
Have your say

From Burberry and Alexander McQueen to a High Street store near you, Stephanie Smith celebrates the finest lace looks.

It cannot have escaped the notice of even the most casual observer of fashion that lace has been having a moment. More than a moment, actually. Almost an era now, by my reckoning, although we can perhaps pin the beginnings of this latest luxe lace incarnation – tiers and layers of artful lace extravagance – down to the Victoriana theme that has been characterising much of fashion for the last couple of years.

The Victoriana theme continues to this season, notably explored by Alexander McQueen, which presented wonderful ivory lace dresses with high necklines, overly long fluted lace sleeves and horizontal tiers of artfully placed lace ruffles.

Burberry, meanwhile, perhaps offered the very best variety of lace looks, and of lace types, from dense floral lace embroidered looks to fine English lace, macramé and crochet lace. These featured in shades of blush, coral, ochre, nude, pea green and a striking blue, generally all over, although also seen in black and white on bodices.

There’s a lace Burberry trench coat (what else?) and, for both women and men, lace shirts. That is correct, lace shirts for men. Admittedly, most men might say no right now to wearing a shirt made entirely of lace, but just give the idea a while to settle.

Men have worn lace in the past, for example, in the 18th century, and the influence of gender blurring and androgyny on fashion can only get stronger, so why not get ahead of the pack this season? Anyway, thanks to spring/summer ’16’s profusion of lace, we are discovering its surprising versatility.

Of course, we’ve long known that lace is a classic day party staple, excellent for weddings and special occasion looks, whether you choose to wear a fitted pencil dress in all-over stretch-and-control lace, or instead go for lace as a key separate. Try a lace pencil skirt or flirty A-line skirt in chiffony tiers or in more structured cutwork and worked lace, or ribbon lace. Or team a peekaboo lace top with an otherwise sedate suit, adding interest and a gentle touch of glamour that works particularly well for office to dinner party looks.

It would be a real mistake this season to consign lace to your special occasion wardrobe, because it can and should become part of your weekend and everyday wardrobe, ideal, in fact, for the so-called “trans-season” weather conditions that will no doubt continue to afflict us at least until mid-summer.

Lace and lace-trimmed dresses work well layered under cashmere and fine woollen cardigans, accessorised with ankle boots or sneakers for an easy luxe take. Lace-meets-floral print is an important and wearable trend for the summer, with lots of light floral dresses edged with lace. Look for long lace cuffs and ruffle collars and fronts, or consider creating your own interpretations by seeking out attachable lace pieces from vintage fairs and stores, and using them to revamp an old summer dress or blouse.

On the High Street, lace has been embraced with much enthusiasm, It’s worth taking a look especially at what Phase Eight has to offer, as it has come up with some rather beautiful catwalk-inspired dresses in a variety of lace looks and shades, while its plus-size sister collection, Studio Eight, has some striking maxi dresses featuring lace panels.

If you see a cream lace blouse or collared shirt that you really love, snap it up. You will never regret it.

A clutch bag, or shoes or boots, in lace are a good option, if you want to add intricacy or soften a formal or edgy outfit, but they can be hard to keep clean, so invest in fabric protector and keep away from chocolate, red wine, pets and small children.