5 ways to wear a dress

If you're making just one investment this autumn, the simple shirt- dress has a lot to be said for it. The one shown here is by Betty Jackson, the British designer who launched her first collection over 15 years ago and has been dressing modern, working women as diverse in shape and personality as Joanna Lumley, Cherie Blair, Marianne Faithfull, Victoria Wood, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French and Lisa Stansfield. Each of them would wear this black button-through dress very differently. So can you, depending on who you are - and who you want to be.

Transforming a dress from the sort of thing you would wear for Saturday shopping into something fit for night-club or theatre is easier than you might think. It is largely a question of accessories. That does not mean matching your shoes and handbag, or earrings and belt. Accessorising is a fine art: it can take just one bauble too many to go from starkly modern to looking like an over-festooned Christmas tree. The key is to keep it simple. A single chunk of silver jewellery, or the perfect pair of shoes, is all it takes.

The most important step, of course, is to choose the right dress. This particular one is a timeless classic, cut to flatter and last for years, and easily adapted to suit every occasion and mood. If all else fails, you know it looks fantastic on its own with a pair of loafers or your favourite comfy shoes.

The easiest way to vary this basic theme is to wear it as a soft coat, unbuttoned over a pair of trousers. Or buckle a shiny mesh belt around the waist for a bit of understated sheen. Ours is pounds 70 from Paul Smith; if you like more glitz, Chanel has a gold mesh belt with a jewelled buckle for more than twice the price of the dress. For a more exotic feel, wear the shirt-dress to cover up your underslip - but only just. Alternatively, add a chunky sweater and a pair of suede boots for a dressed-down, casual feel. Or, for the ultimate in easy comfort, slip on a pair of trainers and break up the line of the dress with a soft tank-top in a bright colour.

As long as you invest in the right dress - look for quality fabric that will stand up to a lot of wear and tear - anything is possible. A dress as versatile as this will rarely be off your back.

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Black crepe jersey maxi dress, (used throughout), pounds 269, at Betty Jackson, 311 Brompton Road, London SW3 (full list of stockists is on page 52); cream striped bootleg hipsters, pounds 191, by Plein Sud, at selected branches of Whistles (0171 487 4484) and Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge, London SW1; oxblood ankle boots, pounds 245, at Patrick Cox, 8 Symons Street, London SW1 (0171 730 6504); oxblood belt with gold snaffle, pounds 39, at Fenwick, 63 New Bond Street, London W1

Black dress, by Betty Jackson, as before; oyster silk and black lace slip, pounds 198, at Agent Provocateur, 6 Broadwick Street, London W1; cream satin shoes with black lace overlay and diamante buckle, pounds 49.99, at Ravel branches nationwide (0171 631 0224); gold chain with claw pendant, pounds 195, and gold bracelet with fang pendant, both by Jacqueline Rabun, pounds 170, at Harrods, Knightsbridge, London SW1 and Sheila Miller, Unit 26, Princes Square, Glasgow

Black dress, by Betty Jackson, as before; patent brown high heel shoes with side buckle, pounds 225, at Pollini, 47 Sloane Street, London SW1; silver chain belt, pounds 70, at Paul Smith Women, 40 Floral Street, London WC2; silver torque, pounds 215, and silver bangle, pounds 255, from Leonardo Peroni for the Talisman Gallery at Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge, London SW1

ABOVE:

Black dress by Betty Jackson, as before; suede multi-coloured wedge heel knee-boots, by Karena Schuessler, pounds 350, at Harrods, as before; brown Follow Me patterned tights from a range by Wolford starting at pounds 17, at The Wolford Boutique, 3 South Molton Street, London W1 and major department stores; cream high neck Aran sweater, pounds 125, by Massimo Osti, call 0171 491 4955 for information

RIGHT:

Black dress by Betty Jackson, as before; red mohair tank top, by ICB, pounds 80, at Selfridges, Oxford Street, London W1, and Harvey Nichols, as before (for further stockists and enquiries call 0171 823 1145); black and white trainers, pounds 49.95, by Acupuncture, at branches of Office, London (0171 221 9014)

BETTY JACKSON STOCKISTS:

The Look, 190 Ashley Road, Hale, Altrincham, Cheshire; Grace Hamilton, 10 Woolton Street, Woolton, Liverpool; Thirty-Eight, 38 Queen Street, Maidenhead, Berkshire; Harrods, Knightsbridge, London SW1; Guidelines, 38-42 Packhorse Road, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire; Isabella, 63 High Street, Ascot; Moore & Co, 9 St Leonards Road, Windsor

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

    £22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

    Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

    Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

    Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

    £70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions