How to Avoid Those Oh No! Double-dressed disasters: AMANDA WAKELEY has a clever solution

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Women all over the world know this feeling. You have entered a room, ready for a big event.

Looking for your best polish; hairstyle, make-up and outfit carefully chosen from a list of possible suitors.

And then your heart sinks – at the sight of another woman wearing the exact same thing as you.

Unless you’re the very chic Queen Letizia of Spain, who attended an event in Madrid last week wearing the exact same £59.99 Mango dress as one of the attendees. Was she mortified by the mirror image? Not even a little.

Addressing the woman – a law professor, whom Queen Letizia honored for her work – she immediately found humor in the situation, kissing her with such warmth to ease her embarrassment.

What could have been an awkward moment instantly turned into peals of laughter. There was even a sense of conspiratorial empathy.

Could this have happened ten years ago? I doubt.

The fact that we are seeing more and more examples of what I call accidental pairings is largely due to the fact that a combination of fabric, pattern and manufacturing technology has seen a massive improvement in the fit, cut and craftsmanship of many High Street pieces, making it appealing to many more women.

Gone are the days when fashion-conscious women wouldn’t dream of diluting their designer clothes with a touch of High Street fun.

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Queen Letizia of Spain, left, and law professor Inmaculada Vivas Teson in a black and white Mango dress, £59.99

Models Sara Sampaio, left, and Emily Ratajkowski both wearing a Cushnie Et Ochs dress costing around £300

Models Sara Sampaio, left, and Emily Ratajkowski both wearing a Cushnie Et Ochs dress costing around £300

Jane Seymour, left, and Paris Hilton attend the Annual Colleague and Oscar de la Renta Spring Luncheon at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel in April 2018

Jane Seymour, left, and Paris Hilton attend the Annual Colleague and Oscar de la Renta Spring Luncheon at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel in April 2018

It’s a wonderful development, both democratizing fashion while effectively bringing premium products to a much wider audience.

On the other hand, the devastation of the pandemic has taken its toll on many small fashion businesses with many well-known brands shutting down due to Covid.

This means there are fewer choices for women today, so the potential of bumping into someone wearing the same style is higher than ever.

One of my friends makes it a rule never to wear this season’s designs to a big event, because she thinks it reduces the risk of bumping into someone wearing the same look.

I applaud that, not least because in this world of mass overconsumption, why do we always feel the need to wear something new?

I would say it is much cooler and more individual to wear and dress up our beloved treasures.

An accidental pairing will always be unavoidable. This has happened to me many times, but being the designer of these pieces, I always took it as a huge compliment.

Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark, right, and businesswoman Nina Wedell-Wedellsborg in Britt Sisseck dresses, £600

Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark, right, and businesswoman Nina Wedell-Wedellsborg in Britt Sisseck dresses, £600

Actress Jaime King, left, and socialite Nicky Hilton in French Connection sequined leopard print dresses

Actress Jaime King, left, and socialite Nicky Hilton in French Connection sequined leopard print dresses

Kris Jenner, right, and her friend Shelli Azoff in a dress believed to be Prada during the Brady campaign to prevent gun violence in 2013

Kris Jenner, right, and her friend Shelli Azoff in a dress believed to be Prada during the Brady campaign to prevent gun violence in 2013

One day in the design studio, five of us showed up with the exact same Wakeley Air signature shirt. We were all different ages, shapes and sizes and we all had completely different styles.

It was fun to see, because I’ve always loved the challenge of creating a piece that many different women can wear and still make it their own.

Remember, there’s no shame in having an accidental pairing.

This is brilliantly illustrated by Trinny’s Friday Twinning by Trinny Woodall – she and her colleague Chloe (completely different shapes, sizes and ages) are filmed wearing the same outfits but they create totally different makeup looks for themselves and then individualize the look with different styles and accessories.

A sparkling smile and good posture can transform anyone and any look.

And at the end of the day, we’re all our own women – even if we’re wearing the same thing.

At least Princess Anne had fun!

By Esther Rantzen for the Daily Mail

If a charity ball with Princess Anne doesn’t deserve a new evening dress, I don’t know what does.

And so it was that 35 years ago this month, I arrived at a hotel on Park Lane in London, with my late husband Desmond Wilcox, dressed in a concoction of cream chiffon, with a matching scarf, designed by Frank Usher.

Form-fitting and strapless, it was a bold departure for me. Almost, I was worried, out of my league. But as I stepped inside the glittering pre-prom reception, I felt a sense of confidence.

Until I spotted Bruce Forsyth with his beautiful wife Wilnelia. She wore the exact same dress.

Being about a foot taller than me – and an ex-Miss World at that – there was no guessing who looked infinitely more glamorous.

Desmond Wilcox, Esther Rantzen, Bruce Forsyth and wife Wilnelia at the Roaring Twenties Ball at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London in May 1987

Desmond Wilcox, Esther Rantzen, Bruce Forsyth and wife Wilnelia at the Roaring Twenties Ball at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London in May 1987

It was a fashion disaster and something had to be done. Springing into action, Wilnelia draped my chiffon scarf over my shoulders and tied hers around her waist in an attempt to make us look different.

As the photographers started to arrive, Brucie said “I’ll take care of that” and got between us. And we got away with it, I think.

Although I did confess our fashion faux pas to Princess Anne later that evening and she looked ironically amused. As Wilnelia taught me, it’s just about using props and keeping your cool.

It happened again a few years ago when I attended a formal event at my old college in Oxford.

I had been asked to give a speech in honor of the principal and, arriving in a long jacket, I noticed that she and I were wearing the same dress.

I wore my jacket throughout lunch, then got up to give my speech, removing my outer layer to reveal our identical outfits.

There we were, two identical peas in a pod. It laughed better than any of my prepared jokes.

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