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Darren Kennedy: Style dilemma


Debenhams €75

Debenhams €75

Debenhams €75

Q: Hi Darren, I'm getting married this year and am looking for bridesmaid dresses. I don't want to spend the €300 which seems to be the standard price in most bridal shops.

I am looking for long dresses for no more than approx €150 each. Would you have any suggestions?

Many thanks. Ann-Marie

A: Bridesmaid dresses are one of the key items for your wedding, and I'm glad to report you'll have plenty of choice within your budget. Aside from the dedicated bridal ranges in department stores, many high-street fashion shops stock modern evening gowns that are an ideal alternative to the traditional bridesmaid dress.

For instance, this turquoise and grey tie-dye dress (€75) from the Jonathan Saunders Edition range at Debenhams would be ideal for a summer wedding.

The fresh use of colour with the turquoise panel front and ribbonbelted waist are typical of Saunders’ tailoring and his clean, understated style. Or try this ruffle halter-neck dress (€81) from Oasis, which has a real romantic feel to it. What's more, rich jewel colours such as turquoise are universally flattering on different skin tones.

For a dress that really stands out, Nicholas Millington has a satin fishtail dress with sweetheart neckline (€134), available at Littlewoods Ireland. It is simply stunning. Pair it with some strappy sandals and keep accessories to a minimum so that the dress takes centre stage. Be warned, though: with bridesmaid dresses like this one, you run the risk of being upstaged by your maid of honour à la Kate Middleton.

Q: I received a present of a grey jumpsuit from Topshop. I really like it and want to wear it, but I've never worn one before and honestly haven't got a clue what to wear it with. Any ideas? Michelle (26) Dublin

A: Jumpsuits are so hot right now with many style-savvy celebs stepping out in them including Gwen Stefani, Rachel McAdams and Penelope Cruz (who wore a black halter-style jumpsuit on the red carpet at the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ premiere). Most are easy to wear and very versatile.

Depending on how it is tailored, a simple change of accessories should take you from day to evening wear. Grey is a great base colour as it leaves you free to inject as much colour as you see fit through your accessories including clutches, belts, jackets and footwear. For summer, add a burst of citrus with the orange suede wedge (€39.99) or go all out with these to-die-for floral pattern peep toes (€24.99), both from New Look.

If you'd prefer a more subtle colour, Penneys cut-out cream wedge (€23) or Tesco's lace-up wedge booties (€26) are both eye-catching options that won't break the bank. Jumpsuits can be worn with or without a belt, depending on your preference. I always find a belt adds nice contrast and emphasis to the waist. Go as large or as thin as you like. A simple tan belt, such as this one from alwear (€15), will go with practically anything. Zara currently has a great selection of belts, including a bright blue braided one for €9.95 and the multi-coloured Aztec pattern belt for €14.95.

Q: Hi, I'm going to Oxygen this summer. It's the first time I've been to something like this, so I’m just wondering what I should wear? I'm quite a girlie girl, so I still want to look nice but not too overdressed. I know the weather will also be a consideration. Dee (28), Carlow

A: When it comes to festivals in Ireland, you need to be prepared for both mudslides and sunny skies. While practicality is important, it doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your style. Easy-to-wear, lightweight garments such as summer dresses, T-shirts, shorts, leggings and sweaters are good layering choices, as you can adjust easily as the temperature rises or falls.

Florals, feathers, prints, tie-dyes, fringing and tassels will all inject instant festival fashion kudos to your style. For instance, team this floral-print playsuit (€18) from alwear with its longline khaki parka (€60) for a perfect little festival ensemble. Similarly, wear a print such as Heatons’s butterfly-print dress (€22) with this super-cool denim fringe jacket from Topshop (approx €160) for a super-easy look to pull together. Jackets in khaki, denim or leather will add contrast to the prettiest of dresses and give your look just the right amount of edge.

Ultimately, it's all about accessories, so accessorise to the max with a hat, scarves, bangles and whatever else takes your fancy. Keep your hands free and opt for a cross-body bag such as this buckle satchel (€33) from Next to hold all your necessities.

Make footwear a priority. It's a good idea to pack both a pair of light trainers along with some water-resistant footwear. A simple, stylish pair of Converse or canvas plimsolls are just the ticket.