The ‘cold shoulder’ look might not sound too enticing, but nonetheless that is what we are calling it.
What we are talking about here is tops and dresses that expose bare shoulder in some way. Apparently, the shoulders have been identified as the part of a woman’s body that barely ages, therefore why not take advantage and get them out on show.
The fact that the shoulders are also identified by many of us as the part of a woman’s body that feels the cold first means that this is clearly a summery and holiday trend, or it ought to be.
Designers have been exceptionally creative when it comes to ways of exposing shoulders. For example, there’s a sculptural take on the shift dress, allowing long or three-quarter sleeves and often high necklines, but then simply the shoulder area on each side cut out in an oval shape. The black dress here from JD Williams is a good example, and you can see that it does add interest to an otherwise unremarkable shift dress and has the advantage of drawing the eye to the shoulder area, which can have a balancing effect on the hips for pear shapes, but might also make those with wide shoulders look a little top heavy.
There are also sleeveless tops and dresses which have a sort of double V neckline, with a vertical downward facing wedge cut out of the fabric mid shoulder, giving the effect of a halter-neck style strap within a wide-ish V or scoop neckline. Now, this can make the shoulders look more narrow and neat – well worth trying out for a dinner party, for example, when mainly your top half will be on show. But do be careful if you fake tan, especially if you are wearing white, because you don’t want tell-tale brown stains to become apparent in the seams and undersides of the cloth, visible to dining companions who will have plenty of time to take note.
So-called Bardot tops and dresses are going to be popular for the summer – that is, navy and white striped, close-fitting off-the-shoulder or wide scoop neck pieces. It’s a classic chic seaside look in a St Tropez kind of way, and it can be quite flattering so well worth investing in a new one, if you haven’t tried one for a few years.
Off-the-shoulder styles are also featuring for special occasion wear, which can work well for weddings, where you want an easy day-to-night outfit, as your can wear the dress during the day with a jacket or cardigan which can then be removed for a glam bare shoulder look for the evening.
Many tops – especially floral print ruffle ones – combine an off-the-shoulder tier or gathered and elasticated peasant style with straps, so you can get the bare shoulder effect but with the benefit of a little bit more safety, and less danger of it falling off. It’s a fairly boho look, romantic and floaty, and there are some particularly fine examples at Miss Selfridge and BHS.
Talking of British Home Stores – and just look at the lovely £40 floral maxi dress featured here – I for one will be heading there as soon as I can to buy something from the troubled homes and fashion department store. I am actually feeling rather guilty now that I haven’t been fashion shopping there for a few years, not since my local branch closed, although I do always enjoy going into other branches when I get the chance.
Occasionally, I’ve picked up some lovely fashion pieces in BHS, but it’s the homes and lighting that has tended to draw me in, especially the lighting. I do think that there is a gap in the market for well-made, reasonably priced, practical items and beautiful pieces for the home, preferably British-designed and manufactured. Surely that is exactly what a shop called British Home Stores should be offering?