What I want to say this week is simple. Stop what you’re doing, now, and go and buy this dress. I don’t often ask this of you, so you know I mean it. And I know I mean it, because as part of my lifelong quest for Party Dresses In Which To Make An Entrance But Not A Spectacle, the day after this shot was taken, I took a detour to Topshop at Oxford Circus to bag one.
And if you won’t take this recommendation from me, take it from Hillary Clinton. She can’t vouch for this Topshop number, I don’t think, but she’s been rocking the cold-shoulder look since 1993, and she recently told Lena Dunham that her version of the dress – by Donna Karan, the originator of the style – was “one of my favourite dresses”. The cold shoulder (it’s a real trend name; Google it if you think I make this stuff up) is having a revival this season partly due to all the fond reminiscing about it when news broke earlier this year that the Donna Karan International line was closing. Karan came up with the style as the ultimate grownup party dress because she had noticed shoulders were one body part that got neither fat nor wrinkly as women got older. The unexpected flesh hit of bare shoulders in a covered-up dress feels just the right balance of racy and graceful. And a dollop of body cream is a level of party prep I can do business with. It works.
The cold shoulder isn’t limited to party frocks. Being above table height, it’s an excellent fashion detail for wearing out for dinner. (Because I love a fancy-pants voluminous cocktail skirt as much as the next woman, but when it comes to Saturday night, do I want to go somewhere I have to stand up? No, because I am not insane.) Alexander McQueen has a thick, cream, cable-knit sweater with shoulder cut-outs that is both cosy and daring and that I would be snapping up right now if I had £1,200 lying around. More realistically, Asos has a little black jumpsuit with cut-outs at the shoulder. Like I said, this is so simple. Don’t give the cold shoulder the cold shoulder. No excuses.
Styling: Melanie Wilkinson. Hair and makeup: Laurence Close at Carol Hayes Management.