Trews are stranger than fiction

Style police: Fashion's latest lunacy? Trousers under a skirt. If you must layer, think salwar kameez

You would think wearing a dress over a pair of trousers was a sign of chronic indecision. Can't decide between the pinstripe flannel pants and the Ghost dress? Wear 'em both. Or is it a sinister plot hatched by the designers to make you buy twice as many pieces next season? Actually, it's neither. Under the banner headline, "New shapes for a new season", fashion has decided it is hip to layer like your life depended on it. It was the Guardian's fashion editor Susannah Frankel who featured "the look" in her pages. "Last summer," she explains, "fashion was frilly, it was pretty, it was feminine: great in pictures but women didn't buy it. Wearing a pair of trousers under the dress defeminises the frock. It's a sharper look and it's pro older women. They don't want to wear girlie dresses on their own but may be tempted by the extra cover of a softly-tailored pair of pants underneath."

The layer look started with young London clubbers wearing sari skirts wrapped over frayed blue jeans. Bjork took the look a step towards mainstream fashion by wearing Hussein Chalayan's apron dresses over jeans and trainers. None of this, however, endeared frocks over slacks to women whose night- club days are over. "I don't think it's a particularly designer look," says Frank's features editor Harriet Quick, "even though the silhouette came from Martin Margiela and Dries Van Noten. I'd call it the urban vagrant look. It's DIY, it's for girls who want to throw a dress over jeans and be confrontational. It is the opposite to the Spice Girl cleavage, thigh and navel femininity. Fashion has always been enchanted by the gypsy, vagrant, ethnic style. It's strong for spring 1998."

If we really want to talk influences, then the salwar kameez is where the traditional tunic top over harem pants is at. Sherald Lamden, designer of Seraph, has made the sari wrap in navy stretch tulle and attached it to wide navy pants (pounds 120). Last season's net seraph "fairy dresses" have gone black and diamante (pounds 150) and Lamden brought the black and indigo jeans from street style to give her dresses what Harriet Quick would call "a bit of whip". Evening Standard fashion writer Angela Buttolph says, "I saw Sherald this week wearing faded cords under her net dress with Converse boots. She looked fabulous. I couldn't pull that look off. I believe dresses over trousers is a very cool i-D kind of look. Having said that, a Ghost dress over a fluid pair of pants is pretty fool-proof. Unless you are super-confident, I'd make sure you got your colours right rather than clashing extreme fabrics like denim trousers and georgette dresses."

The bottom line in the trouser/frock debate has to be whether this is the return of grunge. We all remember the Nineties vagrant chic multi- layers and we don't want to go back there. Jeans under cocktail frocks are all too reminiscent of Courtney Love before she had her Hollywood makeover. Well, breathe easy, kids, because grunge is as dead as the sainted Kurt Cobain. The ethnic embroidery of India, the salwar kameez chiffon pants and tunic and the clever wrap-and-fold Japanese origami fashion are the key to wearing trousers over frocks without looking like a bag lady. Keep the layers thin as spun sugar and avoid denim. Simple as that.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
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

    Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

    £90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

    Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

    £32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

    Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Application Architect/Developer - Peterborough, Cam...

    Ashdown Group: C# Developer - (C#, VB.Net, SQL, Git, TDD)

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Developer (C#, VB & ASP.Net, SQL Server, TSQL) - Pe...

    Day In a Page

    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

    Front National family feud?

    Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy