How to dress like a grown up with Sarah Bailey: Solving a knotty problem like crochet

Crochet. I know what you are thinking: ‘Granny quilting squares, baby booties … nothing to see here … Next please!’

And truly, I hear you. As a fashion trend, crochet has always struck me as a conundrum. It’s either impossibly sexy (see Heather Graham in bombshell mode, donning a pink and red crochet mini as Felicity Shagwell in Austin Powers); or downright frumpy (think lumpy tunics that make you look like you’ve dressed up in a doily). Tricky.

But as fashion continues its Seventies love affair, crochet is popping up everywhere, from quirky sky-high heels at Zara (£79.99,, to beaded tank tops at Topshop (£25,, so it’s worth making friends with the trend.

British fashion expert Sarah Bailey talks about the new Seventies-inspired trend that is sweeping designers – crochet

On the autumn/winter 2018 catwalks, designers continued to favour crochet for next season, too. It was embraced at Christian Dior; creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri showed a knee-length ‘sweater’ dress in ombre shades of mulberry and midnight (my dream buy), plus more ‘Felicity Shagwell’ cobwebby numbers that should only be attempted over a roll neck and knee-high boots.

But how to get in on the free-spirited crochet movement for summer without looking like an accident in a Hobbycraft warehouse?

Strong colours look more modern. I love the cap-sleeved, striped top in Alexa Chung’s latest collection (now £117, perfect paired with raw-hemmed white jeans or, if you are lucky enough to be blessed with Alexa’s legs, shorts.

Zara has a great striped tank top in a similar vein (£19.99, and a chevron-striped wide-sleeved sweater (£39.99, It’s the touch of black in these knits that keeps the look sharp.

The combination of pastel hues and crochet tends to fill me with dread, conjuring nightmarish retro visions of antimacassars and bed jackets. If you are going to invest in something pale and crocheted, go the whole hog in a romantic, maxi-length floor-sweeper.

There are some fabulous, big-event dresses with intricate crochet frills, in summery off-white shades — Australian label Zimmermann does this look well. Holidays provide the perfect chance to experiment. And while I won’t be wearing Zimmermann’s crochet bikini (£80,, if you look good in triangular bra tops, be my guest.

She praised Amal Clooney (pictured) for pulling off a look which many consider to be difficult and a conundrum

She praised Amal Clooney (pictured) for pulling off a look which many consider to be difficult and a conundrum

Avoid straying into Seventies costume territory by keeping accessories pared back and sticking to just one crochet piece in your outfit.

Accessories provide the easiest way to play with the trend. Check out Mira Mikati’s rainbow crochet sliders (£295, for a feel-good vacation shoe. Crochet bobble earrings from J Crew (now £33, provide a nice, witty, Carmen Miranda touch.

And leave it to Anya Hindmarch, the cleverest lady in fashion, to come up with a detachable crochet ‘guitar strap’ for your handbag (£195,

Of course, the Seventies revival extends beyond fashion. There’s renewed interest in sustainability and solutions to wean us off plastics and other environmental nasties, so it makes sense that people have an appetite for craft and natural materials again.

In fact, I have it on reliable authority that rope, knotted bags are going to be big news for autumn/winter.

I know what you’re thinking: ‘She’s going to be telling us about macrame and knot-your-own jute pot holders next’. Well, seeing as you mention it, there’s a bag at Mango with a string macrame shoulder strap (£49.99,, but you’ll have to wait for another week for that trend!