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Style File: Contrasting collars

A/W 2013 is all about austere chic – and you can have any collar, as long as it’s white, writes Rebecca Gonsalves

The introduction of smart-casual office dress codes may mean white-collar workers are not quite so easy to spot as they were in the 1920s, when the term was coined to differentiate between office workers and manual labourers, but that hasn’t put paid to the contrast collar being one of the key styling details this season.

The white collar, black dress combination is nothing new. One of the most  memorable, albeit fictional, proponents of the look is Wednesday Addams, whose strict, puritanical look has retained fashion fans since The Addams Family was broadcast in black-and-white in the 1960s. The original character, and Christina Ricci’s 1990s  cinematic update, are surely perennial  inspirations for designers. In recent years the contrast collar has been updated in leather, bright hues and even embellished with jewels or studs.

But this season, things go back to basics somewhat. You can have any collar as long as it’s white, with Moschino, Valentino and Giles all showing feminine, youthful styles with accent collars. On the catwalk, collars with crisp, clean edges and sharp points presented a more modern prospect than their softly rounded Peter Pan counterparts, with scalloped edges remaining a  romantic touch.

While many dresses and tops now come with contrast collars attached or woven in for a trompe l’oeil effect, it’s a look just as easily aped by allowing a buttoned-up white shirt to peek out of a round-neck jumper dress. And for a really current take on the trend just in time for party season, there are plenty of collar necklaces that can be used to overlay your existing wardrobe – pearl, bead or crystal-encrusted versions are the most obviously party-ready.