Ready to wear: Nothing like the real thing

Synthetics continue their steady ascent. Improved technology has made fibres which fell out of favour in the Seventies, such as rayon, polyester and acrylic, more attractive to wear. They have become more hydrophilic (ie less sweaty) and they can be used in finer gauges, thus becoming more versatile. This is good because man-made fibres, whether from a synthetic polymer (such as acrylic) or from a natural one (such as rayon/viscose) are perfect for the slinky knits that are so big this season. Slinky knits and jersey knits are perfect for covering up less- than-perfect figures; but there are a few things to watch for. Firstly, look for Lycra in woollen jersey, a recent innovation that helps the cloth keep its shape (mostly used by designers at present but also by Marks & Spencer); secondly, some slinky knits can cling, so prevent this by investing in Marks & Spencer "Cling Resist" underwear (from pounds 5 for a waist slip from branches nationwide). As for wearing slinky knits, the rule of thumb is: if you wear a fitted top, wear a loose bottom and vice versa.

Main picture: jade rayon knitted cardigan, pounds 130, Oguri, Space NK, 41 Earlham St, London WC2. Slate grey crochet rayon/acrylic strappy dress, pounds 37, green lace cami-knickers, pounds 16, Benetton branches nationwide, inquiries: 0171 731 4564. Bracelets from a selection at Brick Lane Market, London E1.

Opposite, top: oyster rayon cutaway arm top, pounds 29.99, Next Directory, 0345 100500 and selected stores nationwide, stockist inquiries 0116 2849424. Cream polyester/viscose trousers, pounds 35, Principles, stores nationwide, inquiries: 0171 927 1443. Yellow mock croc strappy sandals, pounds 49.99, Ravel, branches nationwide, inquiries: 0171 631 0224.

Opposite, below: aqua ribbed knitted silk cardigan, pounds 115, Liberty Collection, Regent Street, London W1; 127 Buchanan Street, Glasgow; 16/18 East Street, Brighton; inquiries: 0171 734 1234. Black rayon/acrylic knitted halter neck, pounds 25, Benetton, branches nationwide, inquiries: 0171 731 4564. Black jersey wide pants, approx pounds 19.99, Hennes, Oxford Circus, London W1, and stores nationwide, inquiries: 0171 255 2031. Clear plastic mules, pounds 46.99, Ravel, branches nationwide, inquiries: 0171 631 0224.

photographs by julian marshall

STYLING BY RACHEL COLLINS AT GSM

HAIR BY CRAIG TAYLOR AT ANTHONY YACOMINE

MAKE-UP BY HELEN WALSH AT GSM USING MARY QUANT

MODEL: ERIN AT MODELS 1

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