Emma Samms: Dressed to impress

A corner of Mark Zunino's showroom

A corner of Mark Zunino's showroom - Credit: Archant

‘What could be more joyful than a purple top hat given to you by your son?’

They say that 'Clothes Maketh the Man' and whilst I'd vigorously argue that there's no such thing as a suit cut well enough to counter a dodgy personality, I'd have to concede that I do pay attention to a man's shoes. There's only so much variation a man can get away with from the business uniform of a suit and tie, but his choice of shoes, I feel, can reveal a great deal about his personality.

There's the shoe clearly designed with comfort as a priority. Style wilfully abandoned to nurse bone spurs, fallen arches, or inexcusably, because the shoes are simply more comfortable to wear.

There's the brogue. I'm quite partial to a classic brogue and I admire a shoe that can look just as good with jeans as with a suit. I'm told that they're not necessarily the most comfortable shoes to wear but my vigorous two-word response to that would be - high heels.

The most impressive man's shoe, to me at least, is one that is a bit interesting. Not too interesting, you understand, not quirky or distracting but a good quality shoe with a touch of colour or style can reveal a discerning man that has made an effort.

Whilst men have limited opportunities to display their fashion sense, women have probably too many. Dresses and skirts from long to short in every fabric and colour under the rainbow are available in your average shopping mall. Don't like dresses? Then there are hundreds of different styles of trousers to choose from. Even if we resort to jeans there's straight leg, bootcut, low-rise, boyfriend or skinny to name a few. And don't get me started on dress codes. Does anyone actually know what 'Smart Casual' means? Black Tie is as easy for men as it is difficult for women. Mostly because men can and do wear the exact same dinner suit that they've been wearing for the past 20 years, whereas women are expected to wear a different dress for every event.

My youngest brother, Ben, disputes that men have an easy time with formal wear. He claims there are issues with when to wear winged collars and when not to wear winged collars. He deems battling with a self-tied bow tie to be a better option than the social horror of wearing one that is pre-tied. He points out that even White Tie can go horribly wrong as proven recently by Donald Trump.

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Recently, my other brother, Richard, got married. Dress code that day was 'Joyful'. I wore the brightest pink dress I could find and a purple top hat that had been a birthday present from my son. Because what could be more joyful than a purple top hat given to you by your son?

Other than continuously having to come up with new outfits, women have the additional challenge of figuring out what is most flattering for their body shape. I was very lucky to have been schooled by a master. Nolan Miller was the costume designer for Dynasty, a show renowned for its spectacular clothes and he made all us performers look far better than we ever had before.

Nolan knew how to make the most of everyone's shape. He'd feature your assets and disguise your problems. His main trick with the evening dresses that he designed for us was the internal engineering. We were cinched, lifted and draped to perfection. Working with him was a young man called Mark Zunino who has gone on to have a very successful career as a designer in his own right. Mark is known for his beautiful wedding dresses (often featured on the television program Say Yes to the Dress) and also his designs for many celebrities to wear on the red carpet.

When I was in Los Angeles recently I paid him a visit at his new showroom in Beverly Hills. He showed me around and I was lucky enough to see some of his works in progress. The team took my measurements just in case I had the need (and the budget) for one of his creations. This process was not as simple as you might think and involved 43 different measurements of my body. Let's just say a 'point to point' in the world of couture is different to one in the Cotswolds…

Getting clothes right is precision work. But even if what you wear isn't that important to you, at least bear in mind that someone might be looking at your shoes and drawing conclusions. Well, I might be, anyway.

Follow Emma Samms on Twitter @EmmaSamms1 and Instagram @emma.samms.

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