Long sleeves: Lord knows we’ve needed them of late. But even when this dreariest winter finally breaks into spring, as surely it must (although I write this on a day when my weather app perkily predicts sleety snow for the next two days), long sleeves will remain.
If that revelatory fashion headline hasn’t quite got you spluttering into your Nespresso, I understand.
Long sleeves are one of those things we do tend to need to have about us. On coats and shirts and useful things like that. But it’s dresses I’m talking about. Long-sleeved dresses.
Over the past few seasons they have crept into designers’ repertoires and taken hold in a way they wouldn’t have been allowed to a few years ago.
After a decade dominated by the hard, high heel, the short, sharp body-con dress, and slit-to-the-thigh gowns, it felt like something fresh when Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccoli took over at Valentino and started making beautifully elegant, romantic and demure dresses for evening and cocktail. No wonder all the young starlets flocked to the label.
A long-sleeved red-carpet dress is a cunningly clever thing, too. It will allow a young star such as Dakota Fanning to retain her youth and innocence while lending a Carey Mulligan or Keira Knightley a subtle maturity and gravity.
Long-sleeved dresses are the thinking woman’s style weapon.
There are plenty of other designers besides Valentino enjoying a heady relationship with the long-sleeved dress. Roksanda Ilincic is one. Her 1970s-inspired collection for spring, which boasts sleeves all over the place, is one of the best of the season. Actually, you can’t even call the dresses demure because they’re just too much fun.
Women have been crying out for more long-sleeved dresses for ever, and that they’re having a moment is cause for glee.
My instinct is that the moment will last. Because guess what: they sell. Net-a-porter now has a whole section devoted to dresses – day, cocktail, evening – with long sleeves. Cry out no longer.