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How to wear autumn’s velvet trend in Hong Kong; lingerie-inspired dressing

I keep reading in fashion magazines that I should start wearing the winter velvet trend this summer. I still can’t get my head around how?
Velvet Over Ground, Tai Tam

The Dictator rules: Apparently, you cannot “get your head around” how to use punctuation either. That wasn’t a question. It was a statement with a question mark tacked on at the end. If you dress in the same slapdash manner as you write, you must look like one hot mess, and that’s before adding warm, fuzzy velvet.

It is true, fashion editors based in non-subtropical climates have been advocating a jump-start on the upcoming velvet trend for autumn. Let’s invite them to Hong Kong in their velvet splen­dour and watch them melt like the Wicked Witch of the West. Then again, a bit of velvet might provide welcome warmth in our overly air-conditioned indoor spaces. (Hello, global warming.)

Carven has an airy, short-sleeved shirt dress in velvet flock organza (originally HK$7,490 but now on sale). Chloé also did it for summer in the form of a long, V-neck, black velvet wrap dress (originally HK$21,680 but now on sale). Azzedine Alaia helps by keeping it short on his velvet stripe knit, sleeveless baby-doll dress (HK$22,400; Harvey Nichols).

In fact, skimpy velvet is the way to go for summer, and Zara delivers with cute, spaghetti-strap tops (HK$169) and mini dresses (HK$199) in beige, black, pink, or pale yellow. Isabel Marant Étoile offers a pretty, 1940s-style black velvet dress to transition from this season to the next (HK$5,750; Lane Crawford). We also like velvet pieces by Rick Owens, Tom Ford, Alessandra Rich and Fendi. Before you ask, no, we don’t think velvet shoes will cut it.

I have some of those lingerie silk/lace tanks that I love, and I’d like some tops like them to wear out. Which brands sell them?
Bedroom to Boardroom, Tsim Sha Tsui

The Dictator: Dear Sucker, What’s the difference? I’ll tell you: labelling. You have exactly what you’re looking for. It’s just in the wrong drawer. Wear what you’ve got unless it‘s sheer or otherwise too revealing. If you need further encouragement, consider that merchandise categories and brand names often justify higher prices for the same product.

Admittedly, women’s clothing labels have some pretty lingerie-inspired camisoles at the moment. Theory offers two versions, sing­lets in black, white or khaki green with black lace hems (HK$2,600), and spaghetti strap camisoles in white or black with black lace detail (HK$2,500). Givenchy takes the boudoir theme a step further in a black silk satin top featuring thin straps and off-the-shoulder black guipure lace (HK$18,300).

If you’re looking for a body-hugging fit, Balmain has a corset effect in the stitching on its sexy stretch jersey and lace bodysuit (HK$13,683; netaporter.com). Now, compare that with top-end lingerie labels. La Perla sells its camisoles for only HK $1,700 and up while gorgeous Kiki de Montparnasse camisoles start at HK$1,900 (Lane Crawford). You can also find real bargains on the high street.

Asos.com has more lace camis than you could ever want (HK$120 to HK$347), from the basic lace trim design, to plunge necks, drop shoulders, vintage and unique lace inserts. Mango has some lovely ones, too, including a sea foam green lace appliqué top and a cream camisole with a lace panel at the bottom (HK$169 to HK$199; zalora.com). Wear with jeans, black trousers or even pyjama pants, if you can pull it off. Leave the fluffy slippers at home.

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