Want to look fab­u­lous? Then watch your back...

Irish Daily Mail - - Mail Plus - Sarah Bai­ley

ONE of my teenage sar­to­rial quirks was to wear my V-necked sweaters back­wards. In my de­fence, it was the 1980s and V-backed sweaters were a thing. As long as the la­bel was not stitched so as to re­veal a tell-tale rec­tan­gu­lar out­line, a back-to-front twiz­zle could en­dow any out­fit with at­ti­tude.

In truth, fashion has long had a fas­ci­na­tion with the view from be­hind. When I worked at Harper’s Bazaar US in 2002, the ti­tle re­launched with a dou­ble cover fea­tur­ing Gisele Bund­chen in a daz­zling-fro­mall-an­gles red dress.

It was shot from the front and the back re­spec­tively and em­bla­zoned with the cover line: Fashion’s Back!

We knew backs were, well, back at last year’s Met Ball, the an­nual fashion ex­trav­a­ganza hosted by Amer­i­can Vogue edi­tor Anna Win­tour. The shoul­der blades of the most pow­er­ful women in fashion were on dis­play.

It is a look that will carry through to both the If­tas tonight and next month’s Os­cars cel­e­bra­tions — what­ever the weather or fem­i­nist dress codes.

BUT an ap­peal­ing back view doesn’t have to ac­tu­ally show your back or shoul­ders at all. It’s fre­quently down to the sim­plest of details.

A sim­ple pleat pat­tern, col­lar or gath­ered shoul­der can be all the de­tail­ing you need.

Ex­posed zips are a good short­cut to a chic rear view, too. That was the idea be­hind the long rose-gold zip­pers snaking from the nape of the neck right down to the hem in Vic­to­ria Beck­ham’s first col­lec­tion — dresses that looked as good from the back as the front.

That ex­posed zip­per de­tail has re­mained on trend, giv­ing pol­ish to clothes on the High Street. I love the Chartwell navy top by Libby Lon­don with its brass zip­per (€163, lib­by­lon­don.com) and Cos’s pretty zip-back printed shift (€89, cos­stores.com). And Bo­den’s Marisa Ot­toman dress (€61, bo­den.co.uk) is a work­wear clas­sic.

Rok­sanda Ilin­cic is an­other de­signer who favours ex­posed zip­pers down the spine of her beau­ti­ful evening gowns, a touch that im­bues her frocks with strength; back­bone!

There’s some­thing dis­tinctly re­gal and qui­etly pow­er­ful about a dra­matic back. Ec­cle- sias­ti­cal gar­ments of­ten have or­nately em­bel­lished backs, to com­mand the gaze of all as they make their pro­ces­sion up the aisle.

The same can be said of brides (and brides­maids!). Who can for­get those cov­ered but­tons cas­cad­ing down Pippa Mid­dle­ton’s McQueen gown at her sis­ter Kate’s royal wedding?

At this time of year, you’re look­ing for back ap­peal that doesn’t give you the chills. The Low­den tie-back jump­suit at Fin­ery (was €145, now €105, fin­ery­lon­don.com) would look chic (and feel cosy) with a cream roll-neck un­der­neath.

As ever, if one thing is dar­ing keep ev­ery­thing else de­mure. So, with a tie-back, I’d look for midi-length skirts or trousers.

I’ve been eye­ing up a floor­sweep­ing num­ber by No.1 Jenny Pack­ham at Deben­hams (from €216, deben­hams.ie). There are two styles I like — one strap­pier with a more tra­di­tional bodice, or the sub­tler op­tion with a boat neck­line and fab­u­lous lace V back, which is the one I’ll be buy­ing. And the one that will grab at­ten­tion wher­ever you are in the room.

SARAH BAI­LEY is Ex­ec­u­tive Brand Edi­tor at Porter mag­a­zine.

Style: Heather Gra­ham

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