How to dress like a grown up with Shane Watson

How to dress like a grown up with Shane Watson: Want instant elegance? Copy Kate in Summer Black

  • Shane Watson says black is elegant and unusual for the summer 
  • UK-based fashion expert adds that you will always look different to others at parties
  • Adds that black is a refreshingly simple and smart choice 

We are, as no one can have failed to notice, living in ultra-pretty dress times. Even if you think you have enough to last a lifetime, you may also have thought: ‘But shouldn’t I buy just one more, in case I never get the chance again?’

This is a perfectly natural response to the Great Wearable Dress Drought of the late Nineties and Noughties when it was harder to get a decent dress than to find a wearable swimsuit (also agony — all those high-cut legs.) And it does feel like these are bumper dress times: you can fill your boots with floral midis and there’ll still be some you have to leave behind.

Even so, you may find yourself dreaming of a little (albeit longish) black dress.

I know what you’re thinking: ‘What? Now? Come on ! We’ve only just put black behind us? Isn’t this just fashion being . . . perverse?’

Shane Watson says it’s no coincidence that for the premiere of Top Gun: Maverick the female stars and the Duchess of Cambridge all wore black or monochrome as these are the top-drawer choices of the moment

Well, no. It’s precisely because prints have become so ubiquitous that summer black looks refreshingly simple and smart.

When you’ve been wearing a shirt-dress in a William Morris-style print to work, a zig-zag print dress to the pub and a floral print for hanging out in your kitchen, you may be in the mood for something completely different when it comes to dressing up. I’m not suggesting we turn our backs on all that lovely colour and print, just saying that there’s a palette-cleansing option which might hit the spot.

The best thing about black in summer is that it’s different and unexpected. This also means you won’t turn up to a party wearing the identical dress to someone else. (And that’s not impossible: think how many will have rushed out and bought the Wedgwood blue print Reformation dress Princess Beatrice wore to Chelsea Flower Show (£248, thereformation.com). Quite a few I’ll bet. That’s a wedding accident waiting to happen.


Shane says black also scores more chic points in summer than at other times of the year. Jumpsuits, blazers and trouser-suits all look much fresher in colour right now, but if you’re talking about a dress, black feels extra confident and sophisticated. Pictured: Rachel McAdams and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy

Black also scores more chic points in summer than at other times of the year. Jumpsuits, blazers and trouser-suits all look much fresher in colour right now, but if you’re talking about a dress, black feels extra confident and sophisticated.

It’s no coincidence that for the premiere of Top Gun: Maverick the female stars and the Duchess of Cambridge all wore black or monochrome; these are the top-drawer choices of the moment.

Texture and quality is all-important with summer black. An elegant chiffon-effect long midi wrap with sheer butterfly sleeves (£195, thekooples.com) looks expensive enough to take you anywhere; just add a block-heeled slingback, maybe in colourful satin.


Shane says the best thing about black in summer is that it’s different and unexpected. This also means you won’t turn up to a party wearing the identical dress to someone else. Pictured: Sofia Vergara and Jennifer Garner 

Ghost’s lightweight satin Madison dress (£145, ghost.co.uk), with puffed long sleeves and covered buttons, is one of those Ghost vintage-inspired classics you can modern up easily with sandals and a bright bag.

If you prefer a just-below-the-knee hemline and a bit of bling, then the more affordable variation of Saloni’s black velvet dress with crystal bows that was the fashion world’s most-wanted party dress at the end of last year is the Esme dress in black crepe with crystal buttons (lkbennett.com, £279). You could wear it with patent court shoes (lkbennett.com, £195) or a silver platform sandal (£155, anthropologie.com).

For a bit more coverage, Jaeger for Marks & Spencer’s fit-and-flare midaxi (£122.50, marksandspencer.com) has long sleeves — perfect for a party outdoors when the sun goes down — and you could wear this with boots well into the autumn.

Otherwise, there’s a corner of your local Zara dedicated to crepey black trousers (all of them loose in the leg). These, or your black satin side-stripe trousers, plus a bold POW (parties or weddings) top is the other way to go. Those with good arms might even try Coast’s hot pink half-sleeved top with a puffy peplum (£29.40, coastfashion.com).

Welcome back black.

BACK TO BLACK RULES

Repurpose a slinky black dress.

Wear with satin slingbacks.

Put with leopard print and pink.

Try a white or brightly coloured bag.

 

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