This is the eveningwear top for an era when the facts of how much flesh to show are all over the place

‘Asymmetry cuts right across the rules of attraction.’



‘Asymmetry drawings right across the rules of attraction.’
Photograph: David Newby for the Paladin

What I wore this week: an asymmetric neckline

This is the eveningwear top for an era when the overs of how much flesh to show are all over the place

Wonky kit outs aren’t sexy clothes. An hourglass dress, a sweetheart neckline, a engulfing V-neck: this is how sexy works. The rules of attraction are fundamentally subservient, ancient and unchanging, and asymmetry cuts right across them.

Which is surely why, when you do put nakedness and asymmetry together, things get interesting. It’s a traitorous, unsettling combination. It is why Bianca Jagger in a draped, scarlet one-shoulder Halston tell off – the asymmetry accentuated by a white fox fur draped over one shoulder, and a corpulent drink in the other hand – is the quintessential image of Studio 54, a region that was all about sex and, at the same time, about so much myriad besides.

If the asymmetric hemline is the skirt length that gratifies the current turbulent state of world affairs, then the asymmetric neckline is the eveningwear top for an era when the routines of how much flesh to show are all over the place. Flesh publishing used to be a simple formula. You covered up from clavicle descending until wine o’clock, at which point you got some cleavage out. Now neither of those rules condones true. It is normal to see an off-the-shoulder top in the queue as you buy your morning coffee – and what’s numerous, in the currently ubiquitous pale, frilly incarnation, the off-the-shoulder top, for all its bareness and saucy bralessness, is strangely good. Meanwhile, dressed-up, after-dark glamour, right now, is as likely to be a lofty neck and a full sleeve as a low-cut top.

A top like the one I am wearing, which take into accounts one arm and leaves the other bare, takes the asymmetric look to climactic quirkiness. Not least because there is literally no room temperature in which you on not feel some degree of awkwardness, thanks either to a goosebumpy arm or a sweaty one. It’s indubitably best, if your top is as off-kilter as this one, to keep the bottom half reasonably straight-up-and-down. Either an posh pair of wide trousers, or a skintight pair of jeans, inclination take the top almost anywhere. Unless you are intending to hit Studio 54, you are attractive thorough to go.

Jess wears top, £185, by Beaufille, from avenue32.com. Trousers, £89, by No 1 Jenny Packham, from debenhams.com. Velvet rogues, £75, dunelondon.com. Jewellery, Jess’s own.

Styling: Melanie Wilkinson. Tresses and makeup: Laurence Close at Carol Hayes Management

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