Simply fabulous frocks for a North East summer

PUBLISHED: 08:33 30 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:17 20 February 2013

Animal print dress £45, gold cuff with semi precious stone centre £18, both by Wallis

Animal print dress £45, gold cuff with semi precious stone centre £18, both by Wallis

What makes a woman choose a frock over other fashions? Well, frocks are pretty simple - one item of clothing and all you have to do is accessorise...

Ask a designer what design actually goes into a frock and he or she will say its all to do with tailoring. Even a simple shift dress has an element of tailoring, and like all designs it starts with the fabric, and that will dictate its look and its style.
Cotton in its various guises is for day - retro prints, small sprigged florals, seersuckers and ginghams too. Lightweight wools and crepes suits a smarter working environment or vaguely formal occasion. Anything light, floaty, silky or drapey is cocktail-going-on-party and anything body-con stretch or fluid is quite frankly...just showing off!
Dresses are notoriously difficult to fit. Were not all a perfect size or perfectly
in proportion, which is why skimming styles rather than a tight-fit suits us much better. Even easier are the fit and flare styles - slim fitting tops with wider skirts to flatter the almost universal
pear shape.
Fit is all dependent on the placement of the seams. Side panels from jacket design rather than side seams seen on blouses, maybe waist or princess seams and even trickier bust darts.
We need them all in order to create a three dimensional shape out of a two dimensional piece of cloth and however uncomplicated the shape theres still a neckline to consider, perhaps a sexy side slit or a glimpse of the back. Simple doesnt mean plain.
Ask a man what he thinks of a woman in a dress and hell most probably say he likes the femininity of a frock, it makes a girl look like a girl, makes him feel all protective etc etc.
Chris Hayes, owner of Woven designer store at The Gates, Durham, and co-founder of Van Mildert in Durham, says succinctly; A beautifully cut dress flatters every woman.
Chriss new menswear store is tastefully packed to the gunwales with Armani, Aquascutum, Hugo Boss, Hackett and Gant, and a made-to-measure tailoring service by Stefano Lucchesi. He obviously loves his tailoring and acknowledges design skills.
A well-cut dress definitely makes all the difference, he says. Every woman looks beautiful in a beautiful dress.
This retailer knows more about womenswear than youd think. Just like a man wearing a well-cut suit, he says, a woman in a good dress with a beautiful fit is more elegant and the more beautiful for it. Obviously, its not practical to wear a dress all the time, but its worth making the effort from time to time and enjoying how much more elegant you feel.
Ask a stylist. Lindsay Campbell, The Bridges on-site fashion stylist in Sunderland calls dresses a quick fix to
an outfit dilemma; good for channelling your trend quickly, and easy to dress up or down.
Lindsay is in everyday company of the high street chains and shes conscious of street style too.
I think the shirt dress is always a steady seller in summer as you can wear it with flip flops or over leggings or jeans for a layered look. A smock dress isnt as flattering and you do need to be a little taller and have great legs as it makes you lose your waist.
Yet she herself favours a quirky vintage look. I love the 50s era. Dresses were nipped in at the waist and fuller skirted offering a great camouflage for bums and tums. They are sexy yet feminine, and dont give too much away.
Everyone in the business knows a classic style in quality fabric is something special for the teens through twenties wardrobe as well as the decades that follow. Styles reminiscent as 80s power dressing are not as hard edged as they used to be and much more feminine.
Thing is, youve got to have a bit of a figure to wear a frock. A waist helps, as does nice legs and a slim ankle and toned upper arms. We talk of classic pear shapes being a problem, but its not. Those who have gone from pear to apple and ended up more King Edward potato (there are lots of us about) know that a frock isnt going to solve anything.
Womankind divides over the frock issue. Youre either frockable or non frockable and when youre sadly not you embrace the tunic tops (the short frock that is) and those lovely flattering smocks Lindsay described earlier, and as many leggings and wide linen pants as will go with.
As Lindsay says channel your trend; make it work for you. Thank goodness for a fashion industry that offers just about everything in every shape and
style this summer, theres plenty to choose from.

Bhs Newcastle, MetroCentre, South Shields, Sunderland, Darlington & Middlesbrough Tel: 0845 196 0000
Great Plains is at Fenwick, House of Fraser, John Lewis and Katie Kerr, Corbridge and
Hobbs is in Fenwick and John Lewis, Newcastle; House of Fraser, Darlington and MetroCentre Gateshead.
Laura Ashley is at MetroCentre, Gateshead, Middlesbrough and Sanderson Arcade, Morpeth. Tel: 0871 230 2301
M&S Tel: 0845 609 0200
Minuet Petite is at House of Fraser Gateshead; John Lewis, Newcastle; Robbs, Hexham; Binns, Middlesbrough and Darlington Tel: 01582 399809
Pied a Terre is at House of Fraser Tel: 0207 003 4000
Uttam London is at House of Fraser, Middlesbrough; Fenwick, Newcastle; Funky Edge, Sunderland and Boots and Buckles, Yarm.
Wallis Tel: 0845 1214520
Woven, The Gates, Framwelgate Bridge, Durham City Tel: 0191 374 1002

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