Eight trends for summer dressing – Ruffles, Tribal and safari, Statement shoes, Bare shoulders, Bright bags, Asymmetry, High-low hems, and Nude shoes.

Ruffles, Tribal and safari, Statement shoes, Bare shoulders, Bright bags, Asymmetry, High-low hems, and Nude shoes.

Ruffle shirt from GrattanNot all of About.com’s top tips for summer trends need trouble the over-40s babe, I imagine. Ruffles, for instance, are a tricky beast once a girl hits 30, especially anywhere in the bust area. I’d keep them for things like scarves or other accessories rather than garments, or it really can look muttony. The exception is perhaps the very short, crisp ruffle on a white cotton shirt worn OPEN – whatever you do, don’t do it up (very Tory magistrate).

Betty Jackson safari skirtSafari and tribal are useful staples in every season – nothing new here then. Last year, La Redoute’s catalogue was simply stuffed with them. Women in mid-life are probably best off choosing classic safari like this Betty Jackson skirt from Debenham’s, which is less Ray Mears and more Out of Africa. As for tribal, it’s a great look but easy to overdo – again accessories work well, especially with plain black or white. The chunky bracelet shown on the homepage is a tenner  from Debenham’s. 

Sugly shoestatement shoes are something you can stuff up your jumper as far as I’m concerned. I’ve never seen so many ugly shoes in my life as in this past season and I can only hope that designers soon stop taking whatever drug it is they’re on and get us all back into something more anatomically correct and comfortable. In five years time, people are going to wonder whatever possessed women to wear such bloody ugly things on their feet (probably as they wheel round the female members of the family in Bath chairs because we’ve all destroyed our knees). 

Bare shoulders is one of those Mmn moments for the over-40s babe. Nearly all women have nice shoulders, even if you have bingo wings, so why not take advantage of the summer sun and flaunt them a little? (If you know you’re going to be photographed, don’t forget to take your foundation makeup right down to the edge of the dress, otherwise your neck and decollete will look a different colour from your face in the pictures.)

Bright bags are a definite yes for me, especially since I prefer to dress in neutrals on the whole. Bright red, blue or yellow is a bag colour than can carry you surprisingly far – because it doesn’t match with anything, it goes with anything – and it just gives an outfit a bit of a lift. 

Asymmetry I’m all in favour of when it’s of the Issey Miyake/Junya Watanabe/Commes des Garcons type, but the kind of asymmetry About.com means is the Hollywood one-shoulder gown type, which frankly I think looks weird, like a woman’s been vacuum-sealed into her dress. Bruce Oldfield was forever doing this sort of thing back in the 80s and it looked strange even then. Don’t know why, I just don’t find this look attractive – Alix could make it work in the 1930s but it seems beyond today’s lot. 

The high-low hem is another look that won’t be bothering me this season – a high-low hem on an evening gown has serious potential for making you look like an extra from Moulin Rouge. For those who enjoy evening wear, a classic long sheath with a split is a sexier look out of which you’ll get more mileage.

Nude shoes are an absolute yes for summer, especially if you’re going bare-legged. If they have high heels, they make your legs look far longer, and even in flats they’re very elegant – my favourites are simple nubuck Footglove slingbacks with a small heel. Nude shoes go with almost anything – if you’re wearing a brightly coloured dress, dark shoes look too businesslike and bright shoes give you a big fat full stop on the ends of your feet, but nude shoes will always work.

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