Shiny happy people: Putting on the glitz with sequins

Disco divas and cruise-ship crooners love sequins – and now fashion designers are putting on the glitz, too. Harriet Walker reports on the camp comeback

The spangly sequin has long been the object of many a fashion sneer; its sartorial past is a dark one, whispering of cruise ships and holiday camps, ballroom dancing and party-going grannies. But it became clear, when the press team at the Alexander McQueen show in Paris last month were all wearing sequinned leggings, that this was a trend ready to come out of early retirement.

Part of the attraction of sequins to the fashion cognoscenti is doubtless the bad-taste factor, but this time around, perhaps it isn't so much an ironic statement as a full-on surrender to their shiny charms. Getting this look right isn't easy. So what constitutes suitable sparkle?

Going all-out in a sequinned dress is great for the almost-upon-us party season, but keep your shapes minimal with uncluttered accessories in muted tones. Although bright colours can be fun, as the British designer Ashish Gupta showed with sequinned dresses in primary colours. He has just launched a line at Topshop, while Preen kept things classy with midnight-blue minidresses.

Sequins have something of the angelic about them, so consider paler colours and softer shapes. Just ensure, whether it's cocktail femme or rocker glam, that your sequins are the main event.

For the apprehensive, sequins do well in bit-parts: try a clutch with an otherwise quieter outfit, or throw on a bohemian sequinned beret. You can smarten sequins buy adding them into plain tailoring, which also works to soften a formal look. Flashy sequinned trousers, as seen at Alexis Mabille, can look great with a plain blouse – equally, a sequinned top will go with jeans or tux trousers.

But, back to the sequinned leggings. Admittedly they're more of a lifestyle choice than a wardrobe staple. The difficulty (and possible discomfort) of sitting down may put people off. Similarly, the scaly imprints on your thighs when you finally wrestle yourself out of them might not appeal. But that's the way to do sequins: with unapologetic fearlessness.

But not if you're actually on a cruise ship – that's post-ironic gone too far.

Fashion’s revolving door: What’s in & out this week

IN – Capes

The fashion desk enjoys a coat that gives you complete freedom of arms, and ventilation. A cape helps with both, and provides a weather-proof barrier. They look great with tailored kick-flares, or even with skinny fit jeans; the key is to balance out your cape’s capacious volume with something more fitted. New Look’s wool mix cape (above) seems more expensive than its £25 price tag.

OUT - Deerstalkers

We may have endorsed Sherlock Holmes’s outerwear (see above), but his headgear is a bit much. Yes, it’s difficult to find an outré Christmas present for your boyfriend. Yes, it’s hard to wordlessly convince girls of your brooding intellect. A deerstalker is not the solution to |either of these: try conversation instead. Elementary, my dear reader.

Harriet Walker

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