The lion’s share of my wardrobe is divided between pretty white tops (a topic for another post) and dresses. If I don’t know what to wear, a dress is my fallback. If I want to feel zhuzh-y, I’ll put on a dress. As soon as it’s warm enough, I wear a one every day (and pack a suitcase full of them when I go on holiday). And I have a deep-held affection for my dresses: the Whistles number I bought in an one-the-day panic for my 40th birthday party. The yellow-sprigged sundress I’ve had since I was 21 and bought early on in my career in magazines (from H&M because we were paid virtually nothing). The white dresses I cannot resist buying every summer – even though they are a magnet for sun cream and any drink that’s not water.
So I have dedicated considerably time and brain space (which could, doubtless, be better spent fathoming the mysteries of life and moving house) to contemplating what constitutes the perfect dress.
Not for holidaying purposes, of course – that’s a different matter entirely. But for everyday. For the school run and onto work (unless you work in a suits-only environment) and then to dinner. Something you can throw on and forget about. Other than to bask in the glow of any compliments that come your way, of course…
First off: sleeves. Even if you have the arms of Michelle Obama (I still haven’t quite recovered from her revelation vis-a-vis the 5am gym sessions) you still need sleeves. They make a dress any-occasion-appropriate.
Ditto length. Nothing too knicker-skimming here, please. Or too long. Fabulous as maxi dresses doubtless are, they don’t have the same all-occasion status as the midi.
Don’t go for anything too fancy or you’ll look like you were en route to a wedding and lost your way. (Steer clear of satin-y fabrics, for instance).
Avoid excessive detailing or anything which might be tricky to wear (asymmetric hems, for instance).
Nothing too revealing. The idea here is to throw it on and forget about it: you can’t do that if you’re worried you might accidentally flash your bra.
Good styles to try: shirt dress (wear belted or straight), button-front, drop-waisted (I do so love a dress you can eat in), belted (I never promised you consistency). I am loathe to be prescriptive, but if you truly want a solution frock, then err towards a shape you know suits you e.g. I invested in this Gestuz dress recently. Whilst I love it worn loose, at 5ft3″ I’m aware that belted is probably my kinder friend.
I’ve waded through an awful lot of frocks to do a high street edit, because – what joy – the high street is rich in options. I also love this from H&M (I’ve seen plenty in stores but sold out online) and have my eye on this dreamy Sezane number. Were I to spend a little more, I’d make a beeline for Ganni, Baum Und Pferdgarten, Stine Goya, Rixo or Gestuz (I really like this one). But let’s start with one of these…
1. Red button-up dress, £55, Monsoon; 2. Animal print, £46, Warehouse; 3. Floral, £69.99, Zara; 4. Linen, £49.99, Mango; 5. Floral midi, £89, & Other Stories; 6. Red floral, £39.99, Zara; 7. Buttoned blue floral, £60, Monsoon; 8. Abstract pink print, £55, M&S; 9. Red midi with fitted waist, £55, M&S; 10. Embroidered shirt dress, £39.99, Zara; 11. Check dress, £150, Jigsaw; 12. Cream shirt dress, £39.99, H&M
Other images via Pinterest