Bold Burlesque

A new rags to riches dance movie is set to inspire raunchy party fashion. Stephanie Smith shows how to get the glitz queen look.

It takes a legend... to make a star.

This is the tag-line for the new musical movie spectacular that hits British cinemas next week, the legend being Cher and the star-to-be-born, Christina Aguilera.

It's the story of a small-town waitress (Aguilera) with a big voice who heads off to follow her dreams in Los Angeles and stumbles upon The Burlesque Lounge, an ailing theatre that hosts a raunchy musical revue, presided over by proprietor and headline act, Tess (Cher). Needless to say, Aguielera's booming pipes and impressive makeover soon have the joint rocking.

Reviews of the film from the US, where it launched last month, have been mixed (like a video theme party thrown by Aguilera, with Cher in the house, said one critic), but one thing is for sure – it's a big, sexy show and that means big, sexy costumes, just in time to inspire this season's partywear.

We're talking high glamour and high camp. We're talking raunchy too, and that is not something to be scared of, no matter what your age. Just look at Cher, who is 64, and looks 34, which isn't normal, but still ...

Show style has always snapped up the sexiest and glitziest bits from all the decades – flapper styles from the Twenties, Deco looks of the Thirties, and so on. So, we have feathers and sequins, glitter and crystals, satin and lace and all in the key burlesque colour palette that includes dusky pink, silver, gold, black and red. The High Street is remarkably well geared up to go cabaret-style, as underwear as outerwear takes centre stage with the ultmate in body-conscious corsetry and lingerie, plus lots of retro-inspired party pieces, dripping with embellishement.

You don't have to look tarty or reveal too much. A corset looks great beneath a jacket, for example. An all-over fringed dress is flattering (check out the M&S Dannii Minogue one), as is a tunic dress dripping in paillettes (big shiny discs). There seems to be an unusually large number of feathers around (where are they all coming from?), so check out River Island and Mango for amazing feathery skirts, to wear with either corset style tops or softer net and sequin versions.

Slinky silk and satin looks are gorgeous too, but it's worth noting that the young and toned really do look much better in clingy, filmy fabrics (think retro, Forties' style shorts and cami tops), while many older show dames (and I'm talking Pamela Stephenson here) do actually suit their satin being more corseted and structured.

Remember too that lace and net can cover a multitude of imperfections. Whatever you do, don't make the mistake of showing off more cleavage or leg than is appropriate for your age and figure.

As with all the best burlesque, this is a look that suggests more than it reveals.