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Item of the week: the lace dress

By Rachel Douglass


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(From left) Image: French Connection, Madewell, La Ligne

What it is:

The lace dress is a style that transcends seasons and fashion trends, appearing in looks that can be linked to almost every aesthetic, from bohemia to formalwear to beachwear. While typically a trend that appears in the summer season, its prominence on the runway for autumn/winter 2023 has seen it take on new forms, in styles that allow it to be appropriate all year round and for just about any occasion. The lace itself also differed in use, either seen throughout the entirety of a garment, lining the hem or in intricate panels, most commonly as an extension of the underwear-as-outerwear trend that had its grip on the coming fashion season.

Image: French Connection

Why you’ll want it:

The lace dress can fall into a lot of varying aesthetic and trend categories, giving it a wide appeal to different target audiences that may be looking for a transeasonal style to add to their wardrobes. The piece is particularly popular around wedding season, which typically spans May to October, and has seen a boom in business over the past year as couples continue to go ahead with weddings that were rescheduled due to the pandemic. While the lace dress is often linked to formalwear, the look can also be found in casual pieces, giving it a good scope when it comes to different occasions.

Image: French Connection

Where we’ve seen it:

The lace dress was exhibited in ready-to-wear and haute couture runways alike for AW23, seen in both pieces that could be worn for events and ones to wear to the supermarket. Off-White set its sights on the former with a floor-sweeping, figure-hugging mermaid silhouette that had contrasting lace panels throughout. Ester Manas also offered up form fitting designs which drew inspiration from lingerie and corsetry to make their minimalistic shapes. The lace-favouring Zimmermann stuck closely to its signature bohemian aesthetic with its own designs that placed an importance on lace hems for lightweight, flowing dresses. Meanwhile, Alaïa’s lace looks went from head to toe, encircling the models in intricate materials.

Image: Dorothee Schumacher

How to style it:

Layering the lace dress is a pinnacle point in styling the item. With the material, it is usually possible to see through the design, meaning that more often than not, an underlayer is needed. Use a slip dress in nude or a colour similar to the lace itself, or mix things up with a contrasting tone to bring depth to the piece. For casual wear, pair the dress with sneakers and a leather shoulder bag, or alternatively, for eveningwear, add sparkly accessories and strappy heels.

Image: Burberry

As a multi-occasion, multi-season dress style, the lace dress brings a wide appeal to various shopper groups, whether they are celebrating an occasion or simply going to the beach.

Image: Stella McCartney

Similar items available for (pre)order can be found in the FashionUnited Marketplace. You can find them by clicking on this link.

French Connection
Item of the Week
Stella McCartney