Storm floral print swing blouse, £165, storm floral print skirt co-ord, £175, both Me + EM
I like dresses that can be layered all year round and worn night and day. A good dress isn’t cheap and it should earn its keep. Fit and flare is easier than something more bodycon, which is almost bound not to fit anyone perfectly, unless it’s super-stretchy, which comes with a bunch of other challenges. A coordinating skirt and blouse is the jackpot. I just wish more retailers would realise this.
After a year of elasticated waists, jeans seem almost formal (no bad thing). They’re probably one of the most versatile pieces of the past 70 years, but it’s only recently that older women seem comfortable wearing them. A well-cut pair with some stretch (not too much, though) is the modern equivalent of a tailored dress. They’re lovely with peasant tops at the weekend and chic (à la Ines de la Fressange) with a blazer or smart jumper. I particularly like dark ones, as they’re inherently smarter (and more slimming) than paler ones. Don’t give too much credence to trends (other than to get rid of any low-rise ones, which don’t flatter anyone). You may have read a lot about flares this year, but if you’re on the short side, as I am at five feet four and a quarter (every little helps), they’re not always the best option, unless you’re willing to wear them with big platforms. I prefer a straight-leg or a kick-flare at the ankle. And definitely a higher waist, to elongate legs optically.