FASHION / Stripped to the essentials

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The Independent Culture
THE CLOTHES on this page reflect the more realistic side of this season's fashion. There has been a move away from floppy layers and uneven hems and a return to sharp, clean lines and basic pieces - jacket, trousers and the knee-length skirt. As a look it has, fairly predictably, been dubbed 'the return to glamour', but the good news for those who find nothing attractive about bright-red lips and staggeringly high heels is that you don't have to wear it that way.

In truth, it's the styling - the pictures in glossy magazines and the over-the-top presentation on the catwalk - that has earned clothes like these the 'glam' tag. Without the glaring lipstick, the blusher applied with gusto, the return of bright-blue eyeshadow (and even bright red eyeshadow, for heaven's sake), these clothes needn't make you scream.

Stripped to their basics is how they work best. The modern jacket with its defined, but not exaggerated padded shoulder needs no accessories, the slender shirt no more than an interesting crinkly texture, the shorter A-line coat, the not-too-bare dress both work best when free of additions. And that's the difference between these pieces and similar versions, last seen in the Eighties: in 1986, the little dress would have been accompanied by shoulder pads, shiny gob-stopper earrings and a quilted gilt-chained bag.

Subtle changes in silhouette are worth noting, especially the shoulder line. As for colour, notice how different these shapes seem in classic black (or navy or chocolate), rather than the fucshia, neon yellow and lime green versions that came down the catwalk. Because the season's pieces are so simple, you can wear them as you will. You can be a high-heeled Helmut Newtonesque dominatrix with flaring eyes and fishnet tights, or you can be a low-heeled woman on your way to the office: it's up to you.

(Photographs omitted)