They don't make 'em like this any more

There are times, no matter how much I harp on about fleece and comfy things, when I wish that women (and men) dressed like they used to. All that palaver, that ceremony, that romance. The Wings of the Dove will make you ever so wistful for the costumes of yesteryear: fabulous coats with fur collars for winter, heavily embroidered and cocoon- shaped (so the hem is curved and dips down at the back) for summer. Layered ankle-length dresses with sumptuous brocade on silk mousseline, dainty dolly shoes with sexy, curvy heels. So, the corsets may have made you faint, goodness knows how they washed them and the weight of such finery may have made you glow like a freshly fried chip, but by golly how fantastic these clothes were. The only way, really, to recreate these looks faithfully is to buy from second-hand shops and arrange themed evenings so you have an excuse to wear them. Verily.

Left: Alison Elliot and Helena Bonham Carter get the look in Iain Softley's adaptation of Henry James's 'The Wings of the Dove'

Above: Burgundy satin mules with buckle (sizes 3-9), pounds 169, Emma Hope, see below

Bottom row from left:

Cream crochet dress (sizes 8-14), pounds 390, silk slip, pounds 91, both by Elspeth Gibson, A la Mode, 36 Hans Crescent, London SW1. Enquiries: 0171 561 0773. Beige paisley scarf, pounds 14.99, Accessorize, 123a Kensington High Sreet, London W8. Enquiries: 0171 313 3000

Plum silk beaded dress (sizes 8-16), pounds 1,000, scarf, pounds 885, and bag, pounds 170, all from Etro, 14 Old Bond Street, London W1, 0171 495 5767

Lilac chiffon dress (sizes 10-16), pounds 55, Warehouse, 96 Kings Road, London SW3. Enquiries: 0171 278 3491. Beige silk jacket (sizes 8-14), pounds 195, Elspeth Gibson, as before. Fringed beaded scarf, pounds 165, Pazuki, Liberty, Regent Street, London W1. Enquiries: 0181 878 8504

Purple devore dress (sizes 10-14), pounds 160, Monsoon, 5 Barkers Arcade, Kensington High Street, London W8. Enquiries: 0171 313 3000. Chiffon beaded scarf, pounds 39.99, and black beaded choker, pounds 4.99, Accessorize, 123a Kensington High Street, London W8. Enquiries: 0171 313 3000. Green leather mules (sizes 3-9), pounds 189, Emma Hope, 12 Symons Street, London SW3. Enquiries: 0171 259 9566

Plum print off-shoulder dress (sizes 8-16), pounds 299, Nicole Farhi, 158 New Bond Street, London W1. Enquiries: 0171 499 8368

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