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Bridal coverups: 7 of the least worst

Wedding dress shopping. It’s just one damn thing after another. You’ve got the dress. You’ve found the shoes. And then, all too late, you realise you might freeze without another layer on top, and the weird world of bridal “coverups” beckons.

Fringed kimono, £36, topshop.com Photograph: Topshop
White Vixen faux fur scarf, £98, Helenmoore.com Photograph: Helen Moore

Coverups are garments so infrequently useful they do not even have a widely agreed-upon category name. Some shops call them “boleros” – which sounds terribly Torvill and Dean – others say “stoles” or “shrugs”, both of which seem like something your great aunt would wear to her bowls club’s end-of-season party.

Feather jacket, £195, coast-stores.com Coast Photograph: Coast

A slightly more modern noun is “cape”, but given that even these tend to be made of fabrics you might not wear at any other point in life – marabou, feathers, faux fur – the overall impression remains, at best, a little fancy dress, at worst, totally dated. No wonder so many people try to avoid wearing them altogether, like one colleague, who spent a year getting an exquisite dress made from scratch then wore a hastily grabbed old cardigan and scarf on top.

Bridal cape, £129, monsoon.com Photograph: Monsoon

Wearing something you already own and like is, sadly, often difficult with a traditional white bridal gown. A leather biker jacket might look knowingly ironic to those who get the fashion joke but will be met with quizzical looks from those who don’t. More to the point – unless you shell out for a bespoke cashmere jumper that fits perfectly, as Olivia Palermo did – the shapes and colours of everyday outerwear don’t always do justice to nipped-in waists or ivory satin.

Marabou and feather cape, £85, Biba at houseoffraser.co.uk House of Fraser Photograph: House of Fraser

So here are seven of the least-worst high-street bridal coverups out there – and a little advice. First, when considering party dressing without prissy overtones, look to Kate Moss’s back catalogue for inspiration. Here, Monsoon’s bridal cape and Biba’s feather one might be seen on Mossy, and therefore might work. Similarly, non-trad is the fringed kimono from Topshop (top), which is quite Coachella. If you can bear that reference, there are worst ways to spend £36.

Marabou coverup, £59, johnlewis.com Photograph: John Lewis

Faux fur should be treated with caution. Helen Moore’s “Vixen” scarf is strokably lovely but best worn with non-strapless, non-1920s-influenced wedding dresses. If yours already has a bit of a Hollywood feel to it, this might take it to “Marilyn Monroe costume party” levels.

Pearl Cape, £120, phase-eight.com Photograph: PR

If you are going strapless, these Phase Eight pearls will look lovely. Although, if you are looking for warmth, they’re not a huge amount of use. Clearly, wedding coverups – like marriages – are all about compromise.

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