Scottish Daily Mail

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

- Sarah Bailey is executive Brand editor at Porter magazine. Sarah Bailey

ONE of my teenage sartorial quirks was to wear my V-necked sweaters backwards. In my defence, it was the Eighties and V-backed sweaters were a thing. So long as the label was not stitched so as to reveal a tell-tale rectangula­r outline, a backto-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 u.S. 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 Baftas this Sunday 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 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 (£145,

libbylondo­ and Cos’s zip-back printed shift (£79, Boden’s Marisa Ottoman dress (£54, boden. is a workwear classic. Roksanda Ilincic is another designer who favours exposed zippers down the spine of her beautiful evening gowns, a touch which imbues her frocks with strength; backbone! There’s something distinctly regal and quietly powerful about a dramatic back.

Not for nothing do ecclesiast­ical 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’s wedding?

At this time of year, you’re looking for back appeal which doesn’t give you the chills. The Lowden tie-back jumpsuit at Finery (was £119 now £83,

would look chic (and 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 in plum by No.1 Jenny Packham at Debenhams (£99, debenhams.

com). There are two styles — one strappier with a more traditiona­l bodice, or the subtler option with a boat neckline and fabulous cowl back, which is the one I’ll be buying. And the one that will grab attention wherever you are in the room.

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Style: Heather Graham finerylond­
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