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It’s Fashion Styling 101 that every woman should own a little black dress (aka LBD). I am, however, also a huge fan of the Oriental version of the LBD – the cheongsam (or thuong hai, in Vietnamese). These ultra feminine dresses are extremely flattering to the female form. The designs are endless; from floor-length to mini; sleeved to sleeveless, plunging necklines to high necks – and you do not need to be stick thin to look fabulous in one! In fact, it’s nigh on impossible to not feel feminine and sexy when you slip on a cheongsam.

Ode to the cheongsam in In the Mood for Love

Cheongsams can be purchased off the rack, but a dress-maker will be your best friend. The secret is beautiful fabric and a good, tailored cut.  I have a small collection, which I’ve had tailor-made in Vietnam. I love them because they make stunning evening wear, but they can also be dressed down. I have a beautiful red silk knee-length cheongsam that I wear with black ankle boots, for a more rock-chic look.

My favourite cheongsam. I love the sensual mix of sleeveless - to reveal a bit of shoulder, and a mandarin collar - for modesty

My favourite, however, is a white silk and velvet sleeveless full length body with mandarin collar and a high split down one side. What is more sexy than beautiful fabric embracing the female body, hugging her curves and leaving a just a hint to the imagination? Is it any wonder that there was so much sexual tension between Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung in In the Mood for Love – the greatest ode to the cheongsam?

Do you have an item in your wardrobe that can turn you from feeling frumpy to sexy in a minute? I’d love to hear about it.