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How to dress: dungarees

Link to video: How to wear dungarees

I try not to pay too much attention, on the whole, to what is age appropriate or otherwise. (What’s that? Oh, you’d noticed?) This is because, first, that way madness lies, and second (and most pertinently), if I open that can of worms I will end up talking myself out of a job. So, for practical purposes: la la la, I can’t hear you.

When you don’t want to hear no for an answer, you need to reframe the question. So – rather than ask, “Can I wear dungarees?” I am here to investigate how I can wear dungarees. Seeing as how I am neither a teenage raver nor a young farmhand, I need to smarten them up, obviously. It starts, as getting a look right so often does, with the shoes. Heels are essential, not simply to offset the widening effect of the dungarees (although this is an issue), but because they change the whole message. The spike of a heel and the flash of an ankle render the practicality of dungarees entirely useless. What remains is the sense of ease, the unpreciousness, that makes dungarees appealing.

The top half needs to be sharp-edged. Any kind of workwear requires an attention to crispness and detail to look good. (Jeans and sweatshirts are just fine soft and loose, but tailoring and uniforms are best with a certain starchiness.) A T-shirt works only if it is perfectly cut and can be relied upon not to snag on the straps and give a wonky neckline. By adding a white shirt you make dungarees urban rather than rustic, and grown-up rather than childlike. A blazer does much the same, with the added advantage that it prevents your back view giving the impression that you own the world’s most enormous bottom. Best to avoid trying too hard to feminise dungarees: high heels are enough, and the rest of the look should be neat and minimalist. Embrace your inner tomboy, and leave the scalloped and gathered blouses in the wardrobe.

There is another question, of course, which we have not directly addressed. The question being, do we really want to wear dungarees? But this, as discussed earlier, is a matter of asking the wrong question. Because the right question, of course, is: why not?

• Jess wears dungarees, £115, pepejeans.com. Blazer, from a selection, maisonmartinmargiela.com. Shirt, £30, topshop.com. Shoes, £350, bally.com.

Hair and makeup: Sharon Ives at Carol Hayes Management

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