Women's Fashion | The Reconnoisseur

The dress that combines beauty with versatility

A dress that’s perfect for both day and evening wear? LK Bennett rises to the challenge

The dress that combines beauty with versatility

June 06 2011
Avril Groom

Dark, sober dresses in summer always seem rather sad to me, when there are so many colours that flower in the sunshine. I love an LBD as much as anyone else, but I think of it as a confection of velvet, lace and satin to be worn to a winter party. However, sometimes needs must, and my other life as an occasional singer in an amateur choir has been setting me the puzzle of what to wear when a working day of meetings is followed by an evening performance, where a plainish black dress is de rigueur.

I hate having to carry an extra garment around all day – evening shoes and a change of jewellery are enough to lug. I had looked fruitlessly for something, not too simple nor too dressy, that would be appropriate both for work and for concerts that may take place anywhere from a church to a summer garden. And finally I found that LK Bennett has met this considerable challenge, and in doing so is well ahead of the trend. Transformable, versatile clothes that can be worn in a number of different ways will be a major story for autumn, but the brand already has the very clever four-way Annie dress, in a soft, good-quality viscose jersey with stretch.

It looks at first sight like a conventional wrap dress, but the “wrap” is a loose panel that can be tied at back or front, and the V neckline works just as well the other way round, leaving a plainer slash neckline. I have been wearing it with the V-neck at the front and the skirt-wrap at the back for a sleeker look for work, and then with the more fluid front wrap, slash neck (great for necklaces) and V back for drama, in the evening. With such a simple shape, detail is crucial, and the narrow, below-elbow sleeves and below-knee skirt are well judged and flattering. With two more style permutations to go, I am getting good value for my £125, and people are remarking on my sudden collection of dark summer dresses. As it comes in navy too, I may well soon actually have one.

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