How to work the trends for yomtov
It has to be admitted that several of spring/summer's trends may not be the most appropriate when it comes to dressing for shul this Pesach, or for formal events like weddings, bar/batmitzvahs and Royal Ascot. Head-to-toe denim, slouchy trousers, jumpsuits and shorts all come to mind.
But several of spring's key trends, happily, will work when a bit of glamorous formality is required.
One of the strongest is the 1950s/early 1960s vibe, for which we have the hit US series Mad Men to thank. The gorgeous, glossy series may have migrated to Sky Atlantic but it has still spawned another season of full skirts, shirtwaister dresses, curvy, flower-print frocks, neat little jackets, cardis and duster coats - all perfect when we need to ramp up the formality, and even modesty, quotient.
The Mad Men trend is all over Fenwick, W1, where Helene Berman has cleverly recreated the early 60s with a series of button-through sleeveless frocks, shirtwaisters and full skirts, all in authentic prints, and teamed them with spotty, sweetheart neck, cotton knit sweaters and V-neck cardis.
Max & Co and Marilyn Moore, both at Fenwick, W1, and Tucker, at Matches, have all embraced the era, too. Max & Co has pretty, cherry- or pink floral-print frocks, which can be teamed with their cropped, bracelet sleeve jacket, while Marilyn Moore's gerbera or rose prints have sweetheart or scoop necks and cap sleeves. Tucker's is a cap-sleeve wrap dress with tulip skirt in polka-dot silk.
Pussy-bow blouses, another S/S 2011 trend which started in the 60s, lend themselves well to synagogue or formal wear when teamed with a pencil or tulip skirt. Find them by Raoul and Theory at Fenwick, W1; deliciously pretty spotty silk ones by Marni at Browns, a demure one with just-above-the-elbow sleeves by Chloe at Matches, and a sweet mint green one at Topshop.
Two other key spring trends which adapt with cameleon-like genius to shul are ladylike chic and the modern investment dressing/pared down aesthetic, covered on these pages on March 4.
Ladylike chic, with Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly overtones, is almost the season's default trend for formal occasions. There are ladylike dresses everywhere, from Tara Jarmon's ravishing little shifts, with bow-trimmed belts in mouthwatering peach or toffee, at Fenwick, to a scoop-neck, princess-line dress with all-over bows on the skirt by M&S's Per Una Speziale, LK Bennett's Hepburn dress, with demurely scooped neckline and narrow belt, and a Mint Velvet A-line shift in mushroom/white print.
Reiss, Banana Republic and Zara are all good hunting grounds for these low-key pieces which work for shul: 70s shirts, silky tops, sharply tailored blazers, on-the-knee skirts and that old perennial, the Chanel-inspired collarless jacket.
It is slightly surprising that Chanel-style jackets keep on going. But their appeal seems to lie in their versatility - as well as looking great over a dress or skirt, they also translate to weekend wear with jeans. Find more at Fenwick, by Max & Co in light taupe; and at Browns, which has several, notably by Dolce & Gabbana, in mustard with flower-print edging, and by Marc Jacobs, in nude/lilac tweed embellished with oversized sequins.
Among the season's other trends, flower power and lace can also be worked into shul/formal outfits. A flower-print shift can be worn alone, or tucked under a Mad Men-inspired cardi or jacket if your shul's dress code demands covered arms. Some of the best flower-print dresses include an ethereal watercolour print from MaxMara, a striking all-over print by Cacharel at Matches and a silk shift at Boden.
Lace, which works especially well under mannish tailoring, can be found at Reiss and at Fenwicks, where Tara Jarmon and Raoul have sweet little lace shell tops.
If you are hunting for that old yomtov standby, a suit, it is truly an endangered species, its reputation irretrievably tarnished by association with bank staff. For now, the prettiest - and possibly only - suit for spring is by Vivienne Westwood, with asymmetric jacket and raw edges.