It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and despite being an occasion that most of us resolutely denounce as a farce and an homage to Hallmark, restaurants everywhere will be booked out, not just on Tuesday night, but Saturday and Sunday too. There’s clearly a market for love. And while I’ll lament the artificiality of the day as much as anyone, if someone wanted to treat me to an indulgent meal on Tuesday night, of course I’d be happy to accept. Opportunities to eat with handsome, interesting men are less frequent in your forties than your twenties it turns out.
I recently wrote an article in the February issue of IMAGE Magazine about who women dress for – themselves, their partners, their fashionable friends? And it’s a question worth revisiting in the context of Valentine’s Day. So how do you approach dressing for a date night, especially if it’s a first date? Balmain creative director Olivier Rousteing has described fashion as “character play”, and he’s right, but the trick is to play to your own character, not that of the woman you think you want to be, or should be. There’s nothing more attractive than confidence, so when you’re weighing up your sartorial options – sequinned skirt or skinny jeans – choose the piece that best signals your personality, because then you’ll dazzle irrespective of whether your skirt shimmers or not.
But this doesn’t mean sticking to a predictable and safe comfort zone either. We all take fashion risks, and we should, especially when we’re young and have the advantages of youth on our side – what appears pathetic at 45 simply looks playful at 25 . The key is to stay within your “style zone”, so to speak. If you would never dream of wearing a full skirt any other day, then it should definitely not be your reality on Valentine’s Day, regardless of what fabulous street style star is pulling the look off with aplomb. Imitation is the best form of flattery, they say, but it’s the worst way to approach your personal style. If you’re a sweatshirt and jeans kind of girl, try elevating the look for a date night by wearing a great pair of black skinnies (they always look dressier than blue washes) with heels and an embellished top. This embroidered T-shirt (below) is simple and unfussy, yet dressy and feminine too.
Flower embroidery top, Emanuel Ungaro, €195 (reduced from €389) at farfetch.com
And conversely, if you like your clothes to reflect the vibrancy of your personality, don’t dumb that down for a date night. But perhaps strike a balance between silhouette, print, colour and texture, focusing on one rather than embracing all four at the same time. At the end of the day, you don’t want your clothes to be the talking point of the evening either.
And a final but important point: don’t wear shoes you can’t walk in! There’s nothing less stylish than a woman who looks like she’s hobbling in agony from the roadside to the restaurant. Plus, there’s no need. Wedges and block heels are much easier (for me anyway) to walk in, yet they still provide the poise, height and stature that you’re looking for on a date night. I love these Zara leather mules. Sexy … but stable enough to walk in too!
Embossed leather high-heel mules, €69.95 at Zara