Issa: The feel-good dress

Like Taylor Swift, I very rarely stay up too late*. But when I do, I like to dress for the occasion. Moreover, I am highly sympathetic with the ‘from work to night out’ sartorial conundrum. But now I think I’ve found the answer to the question ‘what do I wear?’ for pretty much any night out.

*Unless I’m working. I bet Taylor’s the same.

Remember Issa, the dresses beloved of fashion editors in the Noughties and the Duchess of Cambridge when she was just (not so) plain old Kate Middleton (she wore a very appositely royal blue one when her engagement was announced)? They were the perfect party/occasion/work-to-party dress: easy, slinky, sexy, but not overly so. When I was an exceedingly lowly junior at InStyle, nearly all the senior staff had at least one Issa dress, which they would wear with pointed heels and a lot of swishing. In a moment of triumph, I laid my hands on my very own Issa dress: the last one in the Selfridges’ sale, in my size, reduced by over 50%. Whilst wearing it for the first time to one of the parties Alex and I used to cover for the magazine, I bumped into one of the fashion team, “Oh. You’ve got That Dress”, she said, eyebrow raised so far it nearly disappeared into her hairline.

(Am I making it sound rather Devil Wears Prada? It wasn’t really. Okay, perhaps a little. On occasion. One of my favourite yes-that-happened moments was when I was asked to procure a Burberry carrycot so a fashion editor could take her baby to the shows. Did she, I asked tentatively, realise that Burberry don’t actually make carrycots? “And your point is?” she replied, coolly. Bless the PR who took pity on me and somehow magicked a Burberry carrycot cover from thin air.)

ANYWAY, fascinating though the tales of legendary old days might be (ask anyone who was there… Well, anyone who was a junior there), they are not the point of this post. The point of this post is that Issa is back. Revived by House of Fraser, no less – which means that you don’t have to comb through the dregs of the designer sales praying for a fashion miracle. You can just pop down to your local high street – or click right here. And you’ll want to. Believe me.

For these are happy dresses. Good time dresses. Dresses to head out in which will also turn heads (hey, it worked for Kate…) because they are so flattering (it’s that heavy fabric that falls just right). And comfortable. Did I mention comfortable? The joy of an Issa dress is that you really can just throw it on. It is statement enough not to require a excess of accessories. Although even I – flat devotee that I am – would opt for heels. These dresses imbue you with confidence – that ‘top of the tree’ feeling that you can defeat the world/bar/party.

The jumpsuits have the same vibe, if you’re so inclined. My friend Helen (she inherited my job when I left InStyle, but we didn’t meet properly to compare notes until we both worked at Glamour years later) wore something very similar to a zhuzhy celeb-filled party last year – and stole the sartorial show (in my humble opinion). There’s a real nonchalant chic to a jumpsuit that makes me wish I was the one wearing it. Now you can be that woman. I’d happily pop a skinny ribbed sweater under the Roxy jumpsuit (below) by day, and whip it off in the evening, adding fabulous earrings for extra party points.

So, clothes to make you happy/feel like a princess/your 20 year old self. If that’s not a reason to buy, I don’t know what is…

P.S. They make the best evening dresses. This would make a great wedding guest dress – if you have left to attend this year? As would this (for any black tie-ish occasion, in fact). This maxi would actually be an amazing bridesmaid’s dress for a winter wedding, as would this wine-coloured pleated number.. This grey cami style dress has ‘date night’ written all over it. And this ruffle dress is downright fabulous.

From top left: Darcy print dress, £109; Envelope wristlet clutch, £25; Yellow Thea clutch, £39; Mila embellished dress,£179; Roxy ruffle jumpsuit, £99; Eden midi dress, £99;  Darcy pleat dress in purple, £99



This post was produced in collaboration with House of Fraser. All words and opinions our own.

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