Pep without peplum for a work-function look


Style Clinic:I’m going to a function with work and I want to wear a skirt and top. The only problem is, I am 100 per cent averse to anything that even nods towards a peplum. Can you find me anything suitable?

Lisa, by email

The fashion world seems to be obsessed with peplums at the moment, which is a pity as, really, only the very slim and/or very short can wear them and feel good about themselves.

Would you consider going for a cardigan and skirt? It may seem a little twee, but is actually a very pretty and work-appropriate look. This combo (left) from Dorothy Perkins might fit the bill – the cardigan (€38) is covered up without being too prissy, and the skirt (€42) is a great length and so versatile.

If that’s not your kind of thing, I’d opt for a pencil-skirt shape, with a shirt tucked in. This Equipment shirt (€315 from Seagreen, Monkstown, Dublin 4) is a gorgeous colour and will look fab with jeans – but tuck it into this skirt (€27 from Next, and you have a cool look that is seamless but not too matchy-matchy. I’d go without tights and opt for a simple court shoe.

This blush-coloured top (€159 at Arnotts) is by Lennon Courtney, a new brand designed by, you guessed it, Sonya Lennon and Brendan Courtney. It’s really flattering and professional, with sleeves (crucially) and will look great tucked into this draped skirt from Zara (€39.95). Add a chunky necklace and some ankle boots to keep it cool rather than corporate.

Here comes the bride in a dress for all occasions

I’m getting married at the end of August and I want to get a dress that is wedding-appropriate but not a wedding dress, if that makes sense. I don’t want a gown, or anything fussy or silk or taffeta or, okay, expensive – I have a budget of about €300. I’d like to go for something white or cream or ivory, and I don’t want anything too short or revealing.

Felicity, by email

Short or revealing? Would I ever? For starters, this dress from€53.94) would work really well – it’s white lace, which makes it really wedding-appropriate (Kate Middleton, anyone?), and it’s covered up, with long sleeves and a high neck, while also being gorgeously sexy and feminine with the cowl back. It’s super-cheap, to boot, meaning you could use your spare change to tailor it to your specifications, maybe with a coloured ribbon belt or by dyeing it cream, ivory or even a slightly spilled-tea shade, which would be stunning on the lace.

This Debut dress (below right, €186 at Debenhams) is one of those love-it-or-hate-it pieces. It’s striking and unusual, as well as being young and fun – which will be perfect for a summer wedding. It’s strapless, with detail on the front, and there’s a slight polka dot feature on the fabric that makes it really unusual. A bit of dye and you could wear it again – to the races maybe, or to a friend’s wedding.

Another option is to design your own. Dresses by Me ( allows you to go online and pick exactly the kind of dress you want, specifying your ideal neckline, sleeve length, skirt type and colour. Prices vary, but they estimate most dresses costing around €300. This purple number, an example of what can be made with the site, would cost €339.

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