STYLE POLICE: Tie me up, tie me down

This is the season of the drawstring. Prepare to wear them on hems, necklines - even seams, says JAMES SHERWOOD

Who decided drawstrings were compulsory for spring/summer '99? Every summer, we can pretty much rely on a rash of drawstring linen palazzo pants which make many a derriere look as fat as Cartman from South Park. But this season we're seeing drawstrings on necklines, waistbands, jacket and skirt hems, dress side seams and sleeves. Before you sign up for St Martin's nightclasses in cat's cradle, let's look at the why before we tackle the why-bother.

The themes this season may be diverse - and you're probably sick of hearing them chanted like a mantra by now: romantic, utility, Victoriana, gypsy. But every mood lends itself to the drawstring detail.

Designers like the divine Elspeth Gibson and Ghost have always played with floaty, ethereal shapes only, this season, they - along with Jean- Paul Gaultier, John Galliano and John Rocha - have gone into overdrive with pin-tucks, smocking, ruffles, ruches, broderie anglaise and lace trim. The drawstring is a key element of romance.

The romantic theme feeds the vogue for Victoriana: Veronique Branquinho's Mistress Strictly white-cotton, high-ruffle-neck blouses and severe black skirts, for example. In an age where exposed flesh in fashion is leaving us with fewer options for a "new" erogenous zone, we may be wise to return to an era when a woman's ankle would make men stand to attention. The drawstring itself - as opposed to buttons and zips - is an erotic, easy means of undressing. It is a gentle riposte to Velcro (which makes undressing about as romantic as ripping off a plaster).

But the drawstring is also a staple in sportswear. So we've seen the detail in sport-inspired collections by Jil Sander, Julien MacDonald and Marni. The gypsy look? Well, no drawstring no dice on that score. In short, you're not going to escape the drawstring whichever trend you turn to in a diverse, eclectic season. Naturally, none of this was lost on the British high-street designers. It's a no-gamble trend. Whereas copies of Gucci flower-power prints may turn out to be the high-street cheat turkey, drawstring is a safe bet.

How to wear it...

Style Police shudders to think of y'all trussed up like Sainsbury's frozen chickens with a drawstring on every seam. It's not a look. Let's start with the basics. Drawstring on the hem of a blouson jacket? You'll look 6lbs heavier. Drawstrings on the hem of a dress? Superfluous detail. There is no point unless you want to make your own puffball. Don't, please, even go there.

The function of a drawstring is to gather. It ruches fabric in much the same manner as a Venetian blind. So bulky fabric plus drawstring is basically asking for the Buckingham Palace curtains effect. The total winner is a white stretch cotton top with the drawstring on the sleeve by Paul Costelloe Dressage (pounds 95). The delicate ruche on the cap sleeve is the one no-danger zone on every woman's body.

How to get the look on the high street

On the gypsy trip, there's a cute milk-maid top by Etam (pounds 20) with the drawstring under the bustline and smocking on the neck and puff sleeve. On the neckline, drawstring is like putting two oranges into one of those supermarket mesh bags. Etam's smocking gives greater control.

Look out for the faux drawstring, like the little tie ribbons on the neckline of Oasis' pretty pink linen camisole (pounds 49.99). It's not meant to gather on the neck and - try it for yourselves - it's a kinder option.

All, and we mean all, of the mags feature River Island's white three- tiered cotton gypsy skirt with a drawstring waist (pounds 14.99). At first Style Police wondered where the merit was in increasing the volume of a skirt at the waist, the hips and the knee. Then we had to admit there are women out there with long enough, slim enough legs to adore flouncing round like Carmen with a crop top, tan and pair of strappy sandals. For those of us who can't, let's not be bitter.

When it comes to utility, Style Police thinks you all know how to wear a cagoule with a draw-string hem. So let's leave it at that.

One final note: if you do fancy the idea of those drawstrings shooting up the side-seam of a dress then fine. The threat of uneven ruches from armpit to thigh is completely removed by Cultura. Its cerise-pink sheath dress (pounds 95) has the ruche stitched in from bust dart to abdomen and it works.

ADDRESS BOOK

Left: White stretch cotton top with drawstring sleeve, Oasis (pounds 95).

Cultura: 0171 278 4843.

Etam: 0171 636 5747.

Oasis: 01865 881 986. River Island: 0181 991 4500.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
people
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
people
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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 General

    Project Manager (App development, SAP, interfacing)

    £50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...

    Systems Developer Technical Lead

    £65000 - £70000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

    Energy Engineer

    £25000 - £30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy En...

    Techincal Accountant-Insurance-Bank-£550/day

    £475 - £550 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Technical Accountant-Insuran...

    Day In a Page

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment