June 06 2011
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.