Slip Dresses

For And Against: A Defence Of The Slip Dress

Michelle Duguid, Senior Fashion Editor, on why she won’t be trying the slip dress this summer

I have been working in fashion a long time and know when I see a sure winner. At the spring/summer 2016 shows it was obvious: the slip and lingerie dressing is back. Silky dresses, camisoles and bias-cut skirts were a staple in all the best collections including Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Céline, Calvin Klein and Burberry to name a few, but the slip seemed to be the one that shone through the most.

There is always a tension between the part of me, the Fashion Editor who styles the clothes and the part of me, the woman who wears them. I live out my fantasy fashion season wardrobe through what comes in and out of Elle fashion cupboard. My monthly photo shoots act as perfect blank canvas for using all the clothes I love without having to think of practicalities of life.

As Michelle, The Editor, I felt excited at the spring /summer shows. Seeing these iconic shapes on the runway reminded me of the key fashion moments that made the young me want to do this job in the first place. I spent my formative years wallpapering my bedroom with images of inspiring iconic 90s models pulled out from magazines. Linda, Christy and later Kate Moss and who didn’t want to be Kate Moss in her silver Calvin Klein slip dress or Courtney Love hanging off Kurt Cobain’s arm. I really wanted to have the confidence and attitude they embodied — the ability to slip on the dress over a G-string and skip out of the house without a care in the world. But as Michelle, the working woman, I felt reluctant.

Wanting to feature the slip dress in the main shoots of ELLE is one thing, but incorporating it into my work wardrobe and wearing it during my day-to-day is another. I finally have grown to know the limits of my shape and body. And to be honest, I like having a little extra fabric to hide behind. I just can’t get the tube in the morning with so much exposed, my welsh white skin showing and fabric clinging to my hips. I get goose bumps at the thought. Where would I hide the very ample bra straps?

I know the styling rules. I tell myself (and readers) over and over again that the slip dress lends itself extremely well to layering, and I could easily wear one underneath a jumper, or over a t-shirt. But I can’t help but think what is the point of investing in a trend, if you can’t confidently invest all the way and hero the main piece?

The stylist in me knows how to make the slip dress work, but she also knows there’s an entire season’s worth of other new ideas out there. I am going to stop beating myself up over this and stick to things that suit me even better. Until the next catwalk show of course.
Harriet Stewart, Market & Retail Editor, disagrees. Here’s why she thinks anyone can give the slip dress a go

I’ve definitely been known to wear some things to work that are questionable when it comes to office appropriateness. A certain barely-there backless summer dress springs to mind, as does an outfit that most people would consider to be pyjamas (it’s a thing).

When you’re absorbed in a fashion environment like ELLE the lines between what is acceptable because it’s a trend (and therefore, filling the pages of the magazine) and what is normal office attire are often blurred.

Enter spring/summer’s irrefutable hero: the slip dress. The throwback to the Nineties was the overriding theme to come out of the shows, with the slip dress at the crux. I’ve always loved a slip dress and already own several, so I knew this would be a trend I’d be getting on board with.
Granted, not everyone wants to wear a breezy wisp of fabric that hangs off the body, every curve on show. But for me, it’s all about how (and perhaps where) you wear it. Rewind to a year or two ago and I would have brazenly worn a lace slip and not much else. This year, having hit the big 3-0, I’m feeling a little more reserved.

For work, I’ll be layering one over a skinny rib poloneck or under a tartan shirt with a silky bomber jacket. Outside of the office though, I’ll be shedding the layers in favour of a slinky silver slip, simple leather slides and a slouchy backback, inspired by Burberry’s Nineties girl.
Still not sure? Here are a few things to remember. The cut is key; anything on the bias is usually really flattering as it hugs the small part of your waist and skims over your hips. And a good fabric is essential, too; a good quality silk will smooth out lumps and bumps, not accentuate them. If you’re not prepared to go braless then a super-fine grey-marl T-shirt worn underneath will give you the coverage you need. See? Easy, really.