According to the nursery rhyme, sugar and spice are what little girls are made of. You might also add tulle to this retro recipe of femininity – the stiff transparent fabric is the stuff of tutus. And while the ballerina favourite remains a staple item of the under-eight playground wardrobe, topped with a JoJo bow this season, grownup women are increasingly adopting tulle as an alternative to lace in 2017.

Transparent like lace but less fussy, it’s a key part of Maria Grazia Chiuri’s idea of Dior, on dresses that look like the skeleton of a ballgown. Molly Goddard supersized it for her recent show, with a giant blue tulle dress set to be a hit with the influencer crowd. Tulle on the high street is in the form of longer midi skirts, but also jackets and tiered T-shirts – sure to confuse anyone wearing a JoJo bow. It was also big at Coachella, where girls wore tulle skirts with denim jackets, or layered up over slipdresses.

Not to get all pseuds’ corner, but the grownup tulle trend is actually rejecting that sugar and spice recipe. Like corsets or fishnet tights, it could be seen as part of a wider trend where symbols of idealised femininity are being reclaimed by women and worn in an alt way. For tulle, avoid the temptation to have a Carrie from Sex and the City off-duty ballerina moment unless you’re looking to channel 1998 (in which case, all power to you). Rather than the Bradshaw-approved mid-thigh length, your tulle skirt should be midi. Think of it as an update on last year’s pleated midi – just a bit more swooshy – and wear with flat mules, or white trainers.

Go away from the barre connotations, not towards them. Instead of ballet slipper pink, wear tulle in, or with, unexpected colours. Black tulle looks more Natalie Portman in Black Swan (totally allowed) or coloured, a la Goddard, wins here. Or on the high street, Mango have a black tulle dress printed with florals that ticks several boxes – it’s both goth-y and so girly it’s arch.

While Coachella attendees wore theirs as transparent layers over underwear, the IRL fashion choice is to wear something tulle over your regular clothes – as in jeans and a T-shirt, as Phoebe-Lettice Thompson, creative director of East London label Illustrated People does in this Instagram selfie. Like a more fabulous version of the plastic cover over a favourite sofa, it’s the kind of made-you-look visual gag that will guarantee hit status with street style photographers. Although wearing it at the school gates might not be advisable.

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