How to wear... the camisole
A strappy top and masculine trousers makes this season's power pairing. Your new hero buy will bring a feminine touch to sharp tailoring and utility pieces, writes Meadhbh McGrath
Our understanding of what defines 'sexy' dressing has undergone something of a shift in the last few years. After everyone from Beyonce to Kim Kardashian wore the naked dress to death, there was a move toward what Sienna Miller dubbed "do-not-fancy-me clothes", what Leandra Medine, of the famed Man Repeller blog, describes as "trends that women love and men hate".
As high necklines, long sleeves and ankle-grazing hems came to dominate, designers sought to look beyond body-con dresses and plunging minis, finding a new style that celebrates sexuality and chimes with a post-#MeToo vision of female empowerment.
Christopher Kane has been leading the charge: his autumn 2018 collection was named after 70s manual The Joy Of Sex, while for spring-summer, a crucial influence was the C-string thong, the 'invisible' underwear with no side straps that just about covers the crotch. Kane managed to make the lacy garments look chic, incorporating them as waist-cinching belts, shoulder straps, shirt collars and the stand-up tongues on elegant, 18th century-style pumps.
Burberry offered a subtle take on underwear-as-outerwear for spring, presenting loose-fitting lacy slip dresses with detachable gathered sleeves, while delicate camisoles were layered under pleated midis and buttery tan leather skirts.
Victoria Beckham, too, endorsed the satin camisole as spring's trophy top. For her 10th anniversary collection, the former Spice Girl proposed an artful juxtaposition of masculine and feminine.
The opening look, a mannish white suit with lace-trimmed cami modelled by 47-year-old supermodel Stella Tennant, was one of the highlights of the season, and Beckham continued the theme with camisoles in black, red-edged cream and sky blue, paired with tailored jackets, wide-leg trousers and flat slipper boots. The look was laid-back, yet powerful, playing on texture with barely-there wisps of lace, sharp suiting and solid leather.
The show illustrated how a fluid camisole can provide the perfect foil for this season's utility trousers and shorts, adding a feminine polish for those worried about looking too literal in their practical pieces.
They balance each other out: a pair of tan high-waisted trousers stops the top from looking too boudoir and grounds it in the real world, while the cami drains the stuffiness and brings a gorgeous levity to the look.
Beckham is known for rarely stepping out in anything other than her own designs, and the lacy camisole has proven to be one of her favourites this season. She typically opts for tonal looks: on International Women's Day, she teamed the black version with slim, split-hem trousers and an oversized trench, while her crisp white suit with matching camisole was a standout at a recent awards show.
The trouser suit-and-camisole is becoming a very popular red carpet combination, appearing on the likes of Brooke Shields, Glenn Close and Vicky McClure.
If you're conscious about showing too much skin, there are options available with wider straps, and they look great underneath a khaki jacket or peeking from behind a single or double-breasted blazer.
There's no need to shy away from colour either: Emma Stone looked striking in a bold poppy-red camisole by Louis Vuitton at a London premiere. The rich colour enlivens an otherwise simple ensemble - sometimes all you need to let a luxurious piece like this shine is some impeccably cut trousers and killer accessories.