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

News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
Sport
Sean Abbott
cricketSean Abbott is named Australia's young cricketer of the year
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
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: Web Developer - PHP

    £16500 - £16640 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Finance compa...

    Austen Lloyd: Regulatory Solicitor / Compliance Manager - Surrey

    Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: SURREY - SENIOR POSITION - An excellent senio...

    Recruitment Genius: Inbound & Outbound Sales Agent

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Inbound & Outbound Sales Age...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Urgent - Cheshire - £25p/h

    £20 - £25 per hour: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a hu...

    Day In a Page

    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea