LIZ JONES: White's hot this summer, but can you wear it if you're not walking up the aisle?

The catwalks were full of white for this summer. The models were like ghosts - or at least looked as though they were still in their nighties.

Stella McCartney showed a white mesh blouson, Victoria Beckham a white blouse and skater skirt edged with orange, Valentino a white cotton blouse and skirt in broderie anglaise. Moschino even sent out a white broderie anglaise jumpsuit, with side cleavage exposed.

Now I have a little bit of a problem with a grown woman wearing broderie anglaise, a crisp holey fabric meant only for children. This fabric, especially in a maxi skirt, reminds me of that dreadful fashion trend: boho.

Broderie anglaise is meant to look stiff, and clean, as though cut from expensive writing paper, but the boho appropriation rendered it sloppy, tiered and creased.

Valentino Spring Summer 2013 Paris Fashion Week

A model presents a creation by British designer Stella McCartney as part of her Fall-Winter 2013/2014 women's ready-to-wear fashion show during Paris fashion week.

Valentino Spring Summer 2013 Paris Fashion Week, left, and Stella McCartney Fall-Winter 2013/2014 during Paris fashion week., right

But white can be wonderful, especially in a crisp white shirt or extra thick, extra-long white T-shirt (when I had money, I would relegate a perfect white Gap tee to its next incarnation as a duster after one wear).

Prada Sport does the best white tee in the world - thick, with a tiny pocket - but if you want to eat this month, try the new range at M&S instead. A washing tip: don't over-heat, and add a touch of Vanish, which avoids any yellowing.

Pairing white jeans with a striped Breton top, or navy blazer, will take you anywhere, but anything head-to-toe white I find slightly problematic: you might look like Nurse Ratched, as though you have misplaced your insane asylum patient.

So if you choose this look you must add a touch of colour somewhere: in an orange belt or bag, a zingy shoe, an embellished neckline or at least fluorescent nails.

Far better is to choose just one piece in white: I love Topshop's leather mini skirt, and its longline silk tuxedo jacket (Topshop Unique, £195), which is great over anything: shorts, brown legs and flats on holiday, or even a long dress for evening, sleeves pushed up to the elbow.

A black tux looks great with white stilettos, which are no longer considered Essex at all. (Whistles has a mid-heel stiletto, Cassini, for £125.)

A fantastic little book is How To Wear White, by Francesca Beauman (Bloomsbury, £12.99), whose author, rather perversely, believes ‘white suits very few people'.

It warns that any bride over the age of 35 should eschew this colour entirely, an edict I find a tad harsh. Better than pure white, she advises, is to choose something that is just ‘off'.

White, of course, comes in many shades, from ivory to chalk, so it shouldn't be hard to avoid pure or paper white.

My advice? Never wear white when your dress is long: it can look too bridey. Coats in white are problematic too: you will spend a fortune on dry cleaning.

A white bag is perfect for a wedding (please don't carry your old battered, sagging, scuffed work bag anywhere this summer), but it must be blemish-free: my trick is to use the soft cloth bag you bought it in as a sort of extra lining inside, and never, ever carry a Biro, or touch it when there is any trace of foundation on your fingers. Underwear must be nude or white, with no twiddly bits, as white can be see-through.

White fabrics I'd avoid (as well as broderie anglaise) include lace, linen and embroidery of any sort - it gets a bit Heidi.

A sheer panel in white looks very fresh: see Topshop's A-line skirt with sheer stripe, or Stella McCartney's sheer shirt.

My favourite look for summer is an oversized wool sweater in school uniform grey (by Dries Van Noten) over a sheer white shirt (Paul Smith, Frank & Eileen do long white shirts in voile) with tails poking out from beneath.

My top white buys for summer

  • Cotton flared jeans, £195, Joseph: perfect for holiday or the office if dressed up with a navy blazer.

  • Leather rucksack, £160, Grafea: will make even a black trouser suit seem summery.

  • blouse with embellished collar, £40, Zara: a simple shape, while the colour adds interest.

  • Cigarette pants with black stripe, £85, French Connection: great with white moccasins.

  • Strappy sandal, £195, LK Bennett: classier than plain, patent courts.

  • Leather clutch, £275, by Mulberry: perfect for evenings and weddings.

  • Leather skirt with asymmetric hem, £120, Topshop Unique: I love this skirt, which can be dressed down for holiday, or up with a black tuxedo.

LIZ JONES SPIES ON....Burberry, Bond Street, London W1

I thought I would give the nice people at Burberry a little challenge.

So on the day of my visit I wore a pair of dirty wellies, had no make-up on, which tends to frighten people, and took along my border collie, Michael.

Oh, and I was carrying two heavy bags. And an extension lead, so Michael could roam at weird angles, threatening to trip me up in a cat's cradle.

Liz Jones was impressed with the service in Burberry on Bond Street, especially since she brought her dog shopping with herLiz Jones was impressed with the service in Burberry on Bond Street, especially since she brought her dog shopping with her

To my surprise, the doorman opened the door for my motley load, nodded, smiled, and even offered to hold my laptop while I browsed.

Michael hovered perilously close to all the embellished trenches, and to the fur, and to the python, but not one impeccably dressed and very pretty sales assistant turned a hair.

This store was full of tourists, unlike Hermes opposite, which seemed as quiet as a country church in comparison.

I asked for a cheap option for a wedding, which raised brows, as nothing there is cheap, although the staff were helpful, directing me towards simple cotton dresses, and a scarf, although even these summer scarves were £275.

I didn't try anything on, as with a dog, it was far too complicated, plus I didn't want to get the sales assistants' backs up by not buying anything.

Nevertheless, this store seemed welcoming and unsnooty. They only lose a point for not having a bowl of water near the door for dogs.

  1. 2013/05/14(火) 17:58:15|
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