This summer’s power move? The 90s slip dress
When some think of power dressing they think big shoulder pads and boardroom-ready suits; but I’d argue that it is in fact the 90s slip dress that’s the ultimate power dressing move.
Typically cut on the bias, meaning they cling in all the wrong places, and made from VPL-showing slinky silk, slips have low backs and lacey negligee necklines; neither of which are happy bedfellows of the strapless bra. As someone not in possession of Gigi’s washboard abs nor Michelle Obama’s perfectly toned upper arms, and with boobs big enough to mean going braless isn’t an option, I have long suspected them strictly the preserve of waifish, naturally tanned and toned model types. However this summer’s more varied iterations on the silky sheath have made me rethink my position: perhaps the 90s nightie is more slip on-able than I thought.
The spring/summer 2023 runways boasted many an inspired take, the strongest of which were Prada’s ombre slit-leg silk midis, the patchwork slips at Sportmax, Victoria Beckham’s sheer ruffled silk maxis and the lace-trimmed pastel crinkled satin nighties Riccardo Tisci riffed on for his final collection for Burberry.
While a Victoria Beckham ruffled sheer maxi dress is firmly on the mental shopping list, my favourite slip moment of late was served by nineties nightie maestro Alexa Chung, who attended the Rodarte show in New York in February wearing an emerald green bias-cut midi from the brand with cream lace trim and a thigh-high slit which she paired, expertly as ever, with a pair of black PVC Satin Laurent boots and a black leather trench. The look was at once pretty and powerful, and proved that styling an ultra-feminine boudoir-style slip with tougher accessories can reap megawatt results.
It was an approach echoed by Danish influencer Pernille Teisbaek, who paired her black silk lace-trim slip with an oversized leather aviator jacket and butch buckle-heavy biker boots at Paris Fashion Week in March. A delightfully easy throw-on look that was decidedly cool.
In its purest form, the silk slip is the perfect low-key summer dress. Just pair with sandals, sunnies and a tan, as Adut Akech did at Coachella and Kendall Jenner did at her Easter celebrations in Palm Springs, and you have the perfect poolside to party piece. For the less dependable British summertime, I personally love how the satin slips were styled at Matthieu Blazy’s debut show for Bottega Veneta – with boots, a big bag and a cashmere jumper tied about the waist. A look that takes you from pub to park with ease and, should have you have a pair of strappy sandals in that cavernous bag, to a fancy dinner too.
Talking of fancy, several celebrities of late have embraced supercharged slip styles to deliver red carpet worthy moments. Olivia Rodrigo nailed red carpet minimalism in a sheer black Miu Miu slip at the Grammy’s back in February, Lizzy Caplan wore a dramatic red satin slip to the Fatal Attraction premiere in LA last month and when she hit the Prince’s Trust Gala in New York last week, Sienna Miller positively glittered in a sheer nude crystal-embellished slip from Fendi’s Spring 2023 couture collection. So sensational was Miller’s pant-flashing party slip, which came with baby pink organza train, that it needed very little accessorising: just dewy makeup, tousled tresses and a dashing young lover in hand.
“We saw so many designers embracing romance and a more feminine aesthetic for SS23 with delicate layers of precious fabrics and lace detailing,” says Liane Wiggins, Head of Womenswear at Matches Fashion. “Lace-trimmed slip dresses nod to the 90’s aesthetic we continue to see and are a great transitional piece that will work hard in your wardrobe across seasons - whether dressed up for the evening, paired with a t-shirt and ballet flat in the spring, or roll-neck and boots during the colder months.”
For anyone looking to channel the Burberry boudoir vibe, Reformation and Matches own brand Raey both do excellent lace trimmed slips, while those looking for something more wedding guest or party appropriate should invest in one of Olivia Von Halle’s pure silk delights, which come with either gorgeous gold chains or dainty diamanté straps.
The most approachable of all the slips though has to be Ghost’s satin Palm dress, which has thick bra-concealing-but-still-chic straps, hits the shin with the gentlest kick flare that flatters most shapes and is made from a breathable, machine washable material that’s not aggressively clingy. It’s no surprise then that it’s one of the brand’s top bestsellers that they bring back in 12 colours season after season. “Our Palm dress was designed to be both functional and sophisticated,” says Sameera Azeem, Creative Director at Ghost.
I’ve worn my black Palm dress over a white t-shirt with Converse high tops and a denim jacket and also black strappy sandals and big blingy earrings for a summer party. It’s a multifunctional team player in my wardrobe that works for myriad forecasts and dress codes. If you can’t say that about your next nightie, give it the slip.
Shop the look:
Sir. The Label Danseurs slip dress, £288; shop here
Urban Outfitters slip dress, now £38; shop here
Mango open back slip dress, £55.99; shop here
Olivia von Halle Bibi silk satin slip, £490; shop here
Urban Outfitters black lace slip dres, £45; shop here
Ghost Palm satin slip dress, £120; shop here
Mango black slip dress, £109.99; shop here