Just for the frill of it

Fashion designers had the feminine touch in mind for this summer - but it didn't get past the catwalk. Shame! Photographs by Sheridan Morley

The international catwalks are often accused of having very little to do with what real women actually wear, or would even aspire to wear if they had the money. Usually, however, the trends and ideas filter down to the high street in some form or other so that we, the clothes buying public - rather than the dedicated followers of fashion - can wear them in a more palatable form.

Occasionally, fashion designers are completely off track and come up with an idea that is absolutely not in tune with today's woman. This summer, if the fashion designers had had their way, women would be wafting around the streets in more frills, ribbons and bows than a Stepford wife. But in reality, the return to a more romantic and feminine style of dressing has largely remained a figment of the fashion designer's imagination.

However, if the world's designers are right and you are longing to get re-acquainted with your feminine side - a flirty frill on the hem of a skirt, a fully-fledged swirl of flamenco layers, or a soft, sheer, lacy blouse - you needn't look like a Barbie doll. In these pictures, we have shown three ways to wear the romantic look and still be taken seriously. You can get away with wearing the most flighty and girly of blouses if you put it with a plain-speaking, no-nonsense trouser suit. We chose an embroidered shirt from Oasis which looks like it is worth far more than its pounds 22.99 in workmanship alone.

If you feel like splashing out on a trend which may well take off on a bigger scale next spring, the sales are the time to shop for designer labels. Nicole Farhi, whose collections usually bridge the gap between what designers think we should be wearing and what most women actually want to wear, has filled her shops with flighty pieces of chiffon and delicate lines of beading, perfectly balanced with soft, unfussy, tailoring. A more minimal ways to show you are up on the latest romantic trend is to search out a Nicole Farhi chiffon beaded skirt in the sales and wear it with the plainest, most sensible top you have in your wardrobe. You can't get much more minimal than a sleeveless polo neck from The Gap or - another good sale investment - John Smedley.

British designers Clements Ribeiro looked to the red-hot blooded gypsy for their spring/summer range. As their collections trickle into the sales, look out for the riotous English-country-garden print on chiffon and the cross-over ruffle-fronted flamenco dresses in linen. If head-to-toe ruffles are too much to handle, Clements Ribeiro have also made a wrap-front top which, once you get used to the waterfall ruffles flapping in the wind, makes you look glamorous rather than like the witless heroine of a Mills & Boon novel. Just to make sure, wear it with a pair of boyish flat-fronted trousers or a pair of chinos. Just make sure you steer well away from hostess trolleys, coffee mornings and darning your husband's socks.

Chocolate brown linen ruffle wrap top with underslip (main picture), pounds 325, by Clements Ribeiro, at Liberty, Regent Street, London W1

Sleeveless black polo neck (above left), pounds 57.50, by John Smedley at S Fisher, Burlington Arcade, London W1, Lisa Sterling, St James Square, Manchester (inquiries 0171-580 5075) and mail order 01629 534 331; cream sheer beaded skirt, pounds 149, by Nicole Farhi,158 New Bond Street, London W1, and Harvey Nichols, Leeds (inquiries 0171-499 8368)

White single-breasted jacket (top left), pounds 140, and trousers, pounds 70, both by French Connection, 249, Regent Street, London W1, 9 Broadmead Street, Bristol, 14-16 St Annes Street, Manchester and branches (inquiries 0171- 580 2507); white sheer embriodered shirt, pounds 22.99, by Oasis, 292, Regent Street, London W1, and 125-126 New Street, Birmingham (inquiries 01865 881 986)

Stylist: Charlie Harrington

Hair and Make up: Alex Babsky using Estee Lauder

Model: Ailsa at Models 1

Prices quoted are subject to change during the sale period

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

    Recruitment Genius: General Processor

    £7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

    Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

    £18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

    Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

    £14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot