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

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
News
newsAstonishing moment a kangaroo takes down a drone
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: Project Director / Operations Director

    £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an incredible opportunity for a ...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Administrator is requir...

    Recruitment Genius: EWI / IWI Installer

    £23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of design...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chessington

    £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Service Desk Analyst - Chessington, Surrey...

    Day In a Page

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'