White lace and layers of chiffon are nothing new for spring/summer, but this season designers went full throttle, showcasing an array of diaphanous gowns and Victorian inspired sleeves. Whether you’ll be teaming strict starchy whites with high waisted denim, or going all out in ankle grazing white Mille feuille, Blush writer Josie Johnson, shows you how to get the look.
If you’re anything like me, Victorian literature has probably provided you with a whole host of amazing heroines. From Miss Havisham to Margaret Hale and Tess Durbeyfield, the rich tales of feminine strife are benchmarks of strength and fragility in women. In an unexpected twist, our heroines tie beautifully into the Neo-Victoriana trend for Spring/Summer 2016.
Erdem, Rodarte and Louis Vuitton all nodded to the aesthetic of the period, with high necklines, statement sleeves and surprise pearl accessories—think pearl-studded heels and belts—making appearances all over the runways.
Buttoned up and pinned down or suggestively ruffled and undone, the trend calls for Victorian severity rendered in modern spirit. Think Jane Eyre or Heathcliff’s Cathy, only with fewer fires and broken windows. With blues and greys; bell and bishop sleeves and a proliferation of lace, the trend is high fashion at its surprisingly wearable best. Try it, and relish the chance to feel like your favourite 19th century wronged woman for a day.
The easiest way to introduce a touch of governess-chic (never thought I’d write that) to your wardrobe, is in the form of a high-necked garment. Look out for ruffled yokes and lace details in humble colours and pair off white blouses with jeans or an A-line skirt for a fresh take. Alternatively, go all out and layer your hyper feminine top demurely under a maxi dress or strappy black jumpsuit.
Make friends with cord and ribbons in grosgrain, leather and velvet. The detail on this Topshop tie neck shirt is an ideal touch of prim elegance. Tie ribbons choker-style around your neck or ponytail for moody Alice in Wonderland touches, or use a thick band of black satin to ground a lacy mini-dress, like New Look’s pale blue skater. Look out for lace up details and exposed buttons in tops as well as in shoes, which should be sturdy with embellishment that adds delicacy.
High-end brands like Self-Portrait and House of Hackney are perfect places to find Victoriana dresses in coy silhouettes. Featuring soft-focus florals, modest necklines and piles of lacy, sheer and ruffled confections, these lines are perfect for conjuring Thomas Hardy-inspired bucolic fantasies. Wear ASOS’ wrap tea dress, or Millie Macintosh’s ditsy floral maxi, to summer weddings, garden parties, or grown-up picnics and team with grass-friendly ankle boots in neutral shades.
Hair plays a big part in Victorian literature, so pick a team. You either scrape it all back into a chic bun (centre part optional), or pin braids up loosely, allowing curls to cascade around your neck and face. Play up your choice with the aforementioned ribbons or generously jewelled drop earrings. Keep your face muted, with matte powdered foundation and if you dare, go for the gothic feel of the period with a swipe of dark lipstick like Revlon’s Va Va Violet.
My dream bathroom cabinet would look just like a Victorian apothecary…metal tubes, brown glass bottles and slabs of ivory soap…heaven! Look to Aesop, Neal’s Yard and Chanel for serious shelfie (that’s selfie with a shelf: sorry) inspiration. Penhaligon’s fragrances are another excellent gesture to the trend. Their beautiful vintage dispensers and intricate labels house scents that have graced the wrists of Sienna Miller and Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown Findlay. Endymion is a favourite, blending rich nutmeg and cardamom with dreamy lavender: a perfect finishing touch for your Victorian look.