Fashion: The lace special effect

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From the office to the guest list, lace is offering perfect solutions for summer. Stephanie Smith has advice on making it work for you.

When, in the future, we look back at the fashions of 2014, I have a feeling that the fitted coloured lace shift dress will be the defining piece of the year.

They are adored by daytime TV presenters and indeed any woman endlessly in search of clothes that combine smartness with flatter-ability and feminine allure, whether for the office or for semi-formal and special events. No wonder they have become popular as many on the High Street contain stretch in the lace, so they are not half as uncomfortable as they sometimes look, plus you can slip a jacket on top, add a pair of heels and a clutch bag, and you’re good to go pretty much anywhere.

Lace is a major theme for this spring/summer and where it’s not the main theme, it’s been creeping into other trends, such as sports luxe, bringing see-through panels and decorative detail.

In fact, lace is firmly a part of fashion’s current obsession with transparency, using sheer and semi-sheer fabrics to both reveal and conceal. Lace is the perfect material for playing with the demure and the sensual, blurring the lines – which is what makes it so ideal for this summer’s guest appearance events.

Witness the Duchess of Cambridge, whose antipodean tour has also provided the world with a walkabout through the fashion trends for spring/summer 14, including a white lace cutwork dress by Australian brand Zimmermann and a cream pretty prom-style, above, worn with pared-down simplicity.

These youthful, easy looks seem to suit her best – but it’s not for everyone. Lace can be quite hard to wear, especially white floaty lace and also prom styles and full skirts. Some of us might harbour dreams of looking all romantic and winsome in a lace prom dress style, or a loose, long, chiffony tunic style, very pre-Raphaelite, but sadly these are not looks that suit everyone. And while I don’t want to be prescriptive about it, it’s fair to say that teens, 20-somethings and young 30-somethings can, generally speaking, pull off better than those of us from older decades.

Cream and nude shades can be more wearable, while coloured lace is most definitely more suitable for 40-pluses . This season, you can find it in purple, green, pale blue (perfect, snap up if you see), pink and in black, grey and navy (again, very wearable for older age groups, offering a softer tone than black, but still striking). Nudes and the metallics of bronze, gold and silver suit any age.

Generally speaking, fitted lace works best on the more mature, giving a tailored and more streamlined feel, although a word of caution – we’re seeing a lot of fitted, coloured lace shift dresses so, for weddings and special events, take a choice of jacket and shawl to vary the look.

Aveda Hair'for Merchant Archive AW18''London Fashion Week''Photographer Ben Broomfield ' '@photobenphoto

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