There are two women who come to mind when I think about dresses with sleeves. The first is Diane von Furstenberg (DVF) creator of the iconic wrap dress that’s 40-plus-years-old and still going strong. The New York designer’s signature style is timeless and ageless, and some might say priceless (the DVF Banded Julian dress costs almost £400 from matchesfashion.com).
Symbolising women’s liberation in the Seventies, the easy-to-wear dress was an instant hit and has been worn over the decades by influential women from Madonna to Michelle Obama. For something similar at a purse-friendlier price, La Redoubt has a lovely monochrome geometric print version at £49, while Phase Eight’s Abellona spot jersey version, pictured above, gives the impression of being a wrap style without the risk of flashing your knickers to the world. Possibly not quite right for Madonna, then...
Keep it simple
The second of my ultimate Style Heroines is Joan Burstein, founder of Browns Fashion store on South Molton Street, London. Mrs B, as she is affectionately known in the fashion industry, is the woman credited with discovering John Galliano and Alexander McQueen, and bringing big-name designers such as Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan to the UK. Simplicity is key for Burstein, who always looks incredibly chic in a trademark tunic dress and statement necklace. The Winser London cotton poplin dress is a versatile day-to-evening option – just add a sprinkling of silver jewellery for the full Mrs B effect.
There were seven dresses with sleeves featured at the Vivienne Westwood: Cut from the Past exhibition at Danson House in Bexleyheath, Kent, which ran April-October 2015. This celebration of 18th-century art and design and its effect on the legendary fashion designer’s work included loans from the V&A and private collections, on display at a beautifully restored Georgian villa. And there was no mention of Westwood going commando while receiving her OBE… (That’s enough pants for one page – Ed.)
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