Directional yet demure clothing for the cool, modern woman

Modest doesn’t have to mean high necks and long sleeves at e-boutique The Modist

Adam Lippes animal-print belted wool, cotton and coat, £1,320
Adam Lippes animal-print belted wool, cotton and coat, £1,320

Modesty is having a(nother) moment in the fashion spotlight. While labels like Valentino create pieces of lyrical beauty out of gorgeously decorated dresses that are high of neck, long of sleeve and generous of hem (yet still extraordinarily flattering), blogs such as the Man Repeller advocate easy chic clothes in which women can feel confident without worrying about how obviously alluring they are.

Preen velvet skirt, £655
Preen velvet skirt, £655

Enter now The Modist, an often directional e-tailer that uses “modestism” as its raison d’être, though far from all the items on the site conform to the high-neck, long-sleeve criteria. The site’s styling, however, does. Where a striking, asymmetric top (£695) by Roland Mouret (better known for his figure hugging than modest pieces) might be designed to leave arms bare, The Modist shows it worn over a slim-fitting white shirt. Recently I found a catwalk dress with a particularly beautiful print that I’d been hunting for; it had a demure, detachable bow at the neck, though I prefer to wear it without, and with a couple of buttons casually undone. The beauty of The Modist is that it features stylish, well-made pieces that shoppers can choose to give a modest slant to… or not. 

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Founder Ghizlan Guenez, formerly in private equity in Dubai, says she started The Modist last March because she wanted demure outfits that allowed her to stay cool and on trend, but always found the shopping experience frustrating and time-consuming. “There are women across the world who like to dress this way,” she says, “and we created The Modist to bring them the best fashion in a way that is relevant to their lifestyle choices.” She has gathered a team of experienced fashion professionals, including executives from Net-a-Porter, who pride themselves, she says, on “an intimate understanding of how The Modist woman dresses and the nuances surrounding that. Styling is important and the brands we feature are handpicked.”

Blazé Milano gold cheetah-embroidered burgundy blazer, £1,525
Blazé Milano gold cheetah-embroidered burgundy blazer, £1,525

The result is sleek, polished and irresistible, showcasing pieces for work, weekends and even that standout evening event. As you might expect, blouses abound – from palmer//harding and 3.1 Philip Lim, but also lesser-known brands like Ellery and Finnish label Teija – although subtle figure-hugging is not ignored; a ruched and ruffled below-the-ankle velvet skirt (£655) by Preen comes to mind. The latest cool brands find their place: Guenez’s top picks for autumn include Blazé Milano’s statement gold cheetah-embroidered burgundy blazer (£1,525), a gold ruffled dress (£2,080) from Petar Petrov, and Adam Lippes’s animal-print belted wool, cotton and silk coat (£1,320). Other offbeat labels include Racil, Rejina Pyo and Maison Rabih Kayrouz, while British-based design is well represented by Peter Pilotto, Christopher Kane and Emilia Wickstead. Accessories – geometric malachite earrings by Zeus + Dione (£400), a crystal-embellished velvet collar necklace (£570) – are equally well thought through. 

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