Want to know the dos and don'ts of fashion this coming season? If you're wondering what's the right dress to don for that special occasion you've been waiting for, Avril Mair, fashion director at Harper's Bazaar has the answers that you're looking for. Read on.
Harper's Bazaar: I’m refusing to turn up my heating as a matter of principle. What options are there to keep me cosy instead?
Avril Mair: This is the least sexy thing I’ll ever suggest, but here goes: M&S Heatgen thermal leggings, (approx.) ₹1,000. Thank me later. Meanwhile, Birkenstock’s felted-wool Boston clogs are this year’s Uggs– Sienna Miller is a fan, naturally.
HB: After Covid put the dampers on last year’s Valentine’s Day celebrations, I’m thinking of breaking the habit of a lifetime and going out for dinner à deux on February 14. What should I wear to make my partner swoon?
AM: You might need to call ahead to check the restaurant has its heating on, but the designer du jour is Nensi Dojaka, who launched a body-con craze that’s taken over the high street. Her version stands out for its sultry sophistication—fortune favours the brave—but it’s still a lot of in-your-face sexiness. Slightly less risqué is Roland Mouret, who has just relaunched his label for S/S '23 with all the woman-friendliness you’d expect.
HB: I’m attending Chinese New Year celebrations and am looking for the ultimate red dress—any recommendations?
AM: There’s a Pantone colour called Valentino Red; the designer showed his first scarlet gown in 1959, and a version appeared in every collection he designed. Although the label’s current creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli prefers an Instagram-friendly fuchsia, a Valentino red dress remains an iconic piece. At a more affordable price point, the Malaysian-born designer Han Chong’s Self-Portrait label—worn by the Princess of Wales—is brilliant for show-stopping event dressing.
HB: I am tempted by the oversize-suit trend, but I’m in my forties and a size XL. How can I carry it off?
AM: With aplomb, of course. One of my favourite brands is Toteme, which has built a fan base for its cool, curated pieces that transcend seasonal trends (and are comparatively well priced). One of its staples is a double-breasted blazer in a subtle sateen fabric that lends it femininity despite the slightly oversize structure and sharp lapels. Pair it with Toteme’s straight-leg trousers, which neatly graze the ankle—that flash of skin is super-flattering.
HB: What would you recommend as an investment buy this season?
AM: I’m going to caveat this by saying that everything you spend money on should be equally considered, whether it’s an H&M dress or an Hermès bag. But if you want to splurge on a big-ticket item, it should be something that will spark joy for a lifetime. My wish-list is topped by Cartier’s new Tank Must: sleek, chic and the maison’s most minimally beautiful watch. A classic handbag is an actual investment, given how much it’s likely to make in the resale market, should you ever change your mind: Chanel’s 22 bag—created last year by Virginie Viard—is an icon in the making.
This piece originally appeared in Harper's Bazaar UK in February 2023