Summer Fashion - Frills and spills

Ruffle a few feathers with stylish frills and layers for summer parties. Jo Haywood shows you how

You don't have to be Little Lord Fauntleroy to pull off ruffles. In fact, it actively helps if you're not a tousle-haired young boy wearing breeches and a jaunty cap.

Ruffles, frills and layers require a sophisticated, thoroughly grown-up wearer to stop them looking infantile. They can be extremely flattering, but you need to know how to use the optical jiggery-pokery they produce to your own advantage.

If you want to create some cleavage and va-va-voom, for example, a chevron ruffle across the chest area of your dress will work wonders. To make the most of an hourglass figure, a ruffle and cap sleeve will broaden your shoulders and make your waist look smaller. And if you're an apple shape, you can make yourself appear taller and slimmer with the simple addition of a ruffle, frill or ruche snaking down your body.

When it comes to choosing a heel to wear with your fabulous frilly new frock, consider the occasion carefully. A chunky heel gives a shoe strength. It is unlikely to snap in half when you're trotting across the lawn to the terrace to top up your Pimms, and it also gives you a sense of authority (a definite plus when you're all ruffled up). With a chunky heel, you get the height you need without the pain (they are ridiculously comfortable). But, let's face it, sometimes you're happy to put up with a bit of pain for a skyhigh pair of spikes that slim your calves, flatter your ankles and make you feel like the star of your very own show.

When it comes to your bag, feel free to be a bit frivolous. Discreet little Chanel clutch bags are fabulous, but you might want to give them the night off in favour of something with a bit more sparkle and pizzazz. You can be fashionable and fun, so don't be afraid to ruffle a few feathers this summer with some daring style choices. Oh, go on, you might just enjoy the frill of it all. Dress to impress.

If you want to avoid being cast in the starring role of The Frocky Horror Show, try on these tips for size: V-line dresses particularly suit hourglass figures, especially if you choose moulding fabrics and add a little texture below the waistline to balance out your shape. if you have sloping shoulders, wear dresses with straps that hang close to the end of your shoulders as this will broaden you out. Halterneck dresses are great for summer occasions, particularly if you have the curves to fill them. They're great for accentuating the positive and making sure that no one gives a single hoot about the negative. an A-line dress - strapless if you're feeling daring - that flares out provocatively at the waist works well on a pear-shape.

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If you want to be spotted in stripes, verticals are slimming and look good on petite women who want to look taller, horizontals are great on tall women who want to redress the balance. bold prints are a must if you have bits you're not keen on (oh, come on, we all have them). A bold print on top will draw the eye away from any imagined horror lurking beneath and vice versa. sleeveless shift dresses are a sophisticated option for any shape or size. If you're nervous about showing the top of your arms, grab yourself a pashmina or a sheer shrug as you're hurtling out the door.

If your dress doesn't impress, dazzle with your accessories. Even the dullest of dull dresses can look a million dollars when worn with a fabulous retro beaded bag and a pair of metallic ruffle-front shoes.

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