Kate Middleton to Angelina Jolie: Modesty is fashion"s hottest look

The new demure: Thighs Cleavage Put 'em away! From Kate to the Hollywood A-list, modesty is fashion’s hottest look



07:37 GMT, 14 May 2012

More is more: The Duchess of Cambridge

More is more: The Duchess of Cambridge

Ladies, breathe a sigh of relief. At last it’s fashionable to cover up. As the Duchess of Cambridge proved last week, more is now officially more when it comes to dressing for a night out.

Looking elegant and demure in her cream Roland Mouret dress, Kate mirrored the new mood of modesty which also dominated the red carpet at New York’s Met Ball last Monday evening.

There, A-listers including Hilary Swank, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cameron Diaz and Cate Blanchett — ladies not usually averse to flashing a little bit of flesh — covered up in full-length, high-necked gowns.

Many didn’t even have their arms on show, let alone their cleavage. So why the sudden shift from overtly sexy, dangerously low-cut cocktail minis to styles that wouldn’t look out of place on your grandmother

Surprisingly, it was former queen WAG Victoria Beckham who paved the way for this new propriety. Nowadays
the woman who once thought a revealing Herve Leger bandage dress de
rigueur for any occasion is rarely seen wearing anything more risque
than a high-necked, knee-length pencil dress.

rest of the fashion pack have followed suit. Sober silhouettes and an
almost Victorian sensibility have been seen everywhere from Valentino
(who opted for floor-skimming ballgowns with high-necked bodices and
sleeves to the wrist) to Elie Saab’s couture collection which was
inspired by the decorous style of Grace Kelly.

seen prim, girly broderie anglais for day at Louis Vuitton and
pared-down, smart eveningwear at Ralph Lauren, Jenny Packham and Roland

The style has found its way to the
High Street, too: even Topshop, ASOS and Oasis are offering a
refreshingly modest collection of mid and long-sleeved dresses with
round necks and longer skirts.

fear not, this new take on prim dressing isn’t without sexuality. The
Duchess of Cambridge’s carefully-constructed bodice and thigh-high split
added a frisson of excitement to an otherwise rather modest look.

Happily, these demure styles are more forgiving than their showier cousins. Evening gowns with sleeves and long hemlines are a godsend for those of us less than enamoured by the assets bestowed upon us (as Mae West once joked: ‘Say what you want about long dresses, but they cover a multitude of shins.’)

The word ‘demure’ originated in the Middle Ages from French words meaning well-mannered and mature

The bad news is demure can look dowdy
unless you follow certain essential rules, like embracing modern
fabrics such as all-over beading or sequins.

Make sure to choose a bold contemporary colour for this classic silhouette; modernist white, red, or green will look striking.

And learn from Kate and pair your simple dress with carefully chosen accessories — a fabulous pair of shoes and one statement piece of jewellery will work wonders.

Angelina Jolie

Victoria Beckham

Cameron Diaz

Dressed to impress: Angelina Jolie, Victoria Beckham and Cameron Diaz work the demure look


Despite the occassional protruding leg, Jolie has long been a
trailblazer for the New Modesty, with a bulging wardrobe of demure
evening gowns that retain an air of mystery. This head-to-toe grey silk
cashmere gown by Ralph & Russo was paired with a pout for a recent
charity gala in Berlin.


Once the Queen of leather hot pants and cleavage-baring corsets, VB blazed a trail for the New Demure when she started wearing ladylike pencil-skirted dresses with Peter Pan collars. Her own successful collection is almost entirely based on this approach to dressing.


British-born actress Emily Blunt carries off ladylike modesty with aristocratic aplomb. Her semi-sheer dress features a flesh-toned lining to maintain her dignity, but the scarlet lace adds sexuality to an otherwise sober silhouette.

Hilary Swank

Kate Hudson

Emily Blunt

Showstopping: Hilary Swank, Kate Hudsona and Emily Blunt make a splash on the red carpet


Another Met Ball guest, Cameron Diaz — who, at 39, boasts an enviable bikini body honed on the surf beaches of California — smouldered in a body-skimming full-length beaded gown by our own Stella McCartney.


Australian-born Blanchett has always championed grown-up glamour, worn in her own inimitable way. At last week’s Costume Institute Gala Met Ball in New York, she donned an opulent black feathered gown by Brit designer Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen.


Goldie Hawn’s award-winning actress daughter stunned attendees at this year’s glamorous White House Correspondents’ Dinner — and all without showing an inch of flesh. She glittered in a chic floor-length purple sequined dress by British designer Jenny Packham.

Jessica Alba

Keira Knightley

Cate Blanchett

Occasion wear: Jessica Alba, Keira Knightley and Cate Blanchett opt for vintage-inspired gowns