We all know grey is this season's hot colour. Only trouble is, it's not very sexy. James Sherwood goes in search of some 'va-va-voom'
THERE COMES a time in every woman's life when she really has to show out. It may be a "look at what you could have had" dinner with your ex; an evening when everyone you've ever hated is going to be in one room; or your best friend's wedding when you've previously seduced the bridegroom. Style Police was packing for the second option, otherwise known as Milan fashion week, and it finally hit home. Grey just doesn't cut it.

Sometimes your clothes have to say sex. They have to say, "because I'm worth it". If you're really lucky they can say both. There is no denying the ease and elegance of a smoky grey cashmere ankle-length sweater dress by Celine, or a no-nonsense black silk jersey maxi skirt by Nicole Farhi with an over-easy Calvin Klein sweater. These are clothes for women in a steady relationship. They are for women who can be "quietly confident" because they are already having an illicit affair.

What about the rest of us who want to turn a few heads and cause the odd heart to beat time with "The Flight of The Bumblebee"? Where are the winter clothes that say "va-va-voom"?

Grey is great. We all understand the allure of layering textures like mohair and silk smooth cashmere. We get the gist of dove grey pants under charcoal knit sweaters. Hell, we even get the grey flannel accessories: the shoes, the bag, the scarf, the Balaclava. But what the hell do you do for a hot date? A guy isn't going to open the conversation with, "I do find that hint of understated luxury incredibly sexy. Is that three or four ply cashmere?" He's going to think you've come straight from work.

How sad, you may be thinking. Imagine dressing to impress or entice a man. You would say that, smug marrieds. It is one of life's universal truths that a woman dresses for other women first, herself second and then considers men last of all. The sexier the dress, the closer another woman is bound to be in the picture.

Frankly, it doesn't take much more than a pair of f*** me heels to have a man screaming to the ceiling. No challenge. What you really want to achieve is looking hot without giving women ammunition to criticise. Other women know stillies aren't actually kicking for autumn/winter anyway.

This, naturally, puts red accessories right out of the equation. Fire engine, feisty red is a key colour for this season. But if you try to liven-up the shades of grey with a pair of red satin Manolo heels, other women will make snide remarks about the whereabouts of your lamp-post and your regulars. There's sexy and there's "whore of Babylon", after all.

You may be thinking Style Police is going to suggest the sleeveless shift dress as your solution; the ones that don't work if you have worries about hips, thighs, breasts, legs or arms. Ye of little faith. Think about the fluidity of a liquid satin bias-cut dress, falling to ankle length. From Georgina von Etzdorf, it is in imperial purple (pounds 175) with a subtle drape on the neck. Maria Grachvogel's G diffusion label at Debenhams has the bias-cut dress in molten gold silk satin with a cowl neck (pounds 150). Silver grey satin with a dull silver rose detail on the scalloped hem (pounds 160) is the way BDL by Ben de Lisi interprets this do-it-all dress. Guess what. All the above work with grey accessories.

You need to know of the amazing design revolution on the high street. M&S may have started the trend with Betty Jackson and Ghost's Tanya Sarne designing under the M&S label. But it is Debenhams who have corralled the truly great British designers - Maria Grachvogel, Pearce Fionda, Ben de Lisi, Jasper Conran and accessories designers Lulu Guinness and Philip Treacy under one roof.

You can forget Hussein Chalayan and Seraph for Top Shop. The design may be fine but the make is tat. If you're looking for heart-stopping evening wear this season, Style Police is telling you to get down to Debenhams with head held high and a sly smile. You need proof? Slip on Pearce II Fionda's fluid black "flamenco" frock (pounds 350) and try not to shake your tush when the piped music plays "Bootie Call".

We're not, however, suggesting you float around in the twilight hours dressed like Shanghai Lil in boudoir mood. Eveningwear with "va-va-voom" needs the element of surprise. Use these words of wisdom from the stripper Gypsy Rose Lee as your guideline: "Make them beg for more and then don't give it to them".

Over the Etzdorf, I want you to slip one of Betty Jackson's loose knit plumb angora sweaters (pounds 189). Over the silver BDL we want to see the finest grey merino wool knit sweater from John Smedley (pounds 70) and over the gold we want to see a red Scotch House cardi (from pounds 192 for the twinset). It is the ease of the sweater with the sex of satin.