I booked my holiday flights this week. We’re not going until the end of July and so having counted the weeks in my diary I now have something of an understanding of how my small son feels when he asks me in October how long it is until his next birthday (it’s August).
Here in London we haven’t had many opportunities to break out the summer wardrobe thus far so it is occupying my mind which clothes I should take with me for a fortnight in Spain. Of course these days I share my suitcase with my son and then when I get there I share the hanging space with my boyfriend (you win some, you lose some – he is one of a rare breed who actually likes to unpack) so there are limits. You may recall the ‘hand luggage only’ debate last year, well the boyfriend ended up being amazed at how little I appeared to have packed, so I can’t help but feel there is a reputation to be maintained in this area.
I am of the belief that there are few garments simpler than the dress, especially in the summer months. This season, dresses come in all styles, lengths and colours and there is not a body shape or occasion in the world that has not been catered for. A pair of shorts requires a certain amount of leg preparation and well, aren’t they just a terrifying item anyway? A dress however, can cover a multitude of sins (in my case, pasty skin), can be styled up for the office or down for the beach and best of all, you merely have to add shoes and you’re done – precious time saved. It’s the sartorial equivalent of toast.
I have trawled (oh the agonies) through hundreds of dresses to find some of the most versatile and problem solving pieces on the high street. In a bid to cover all eventualities from the boardroom to the boardwalk I have chosen these dresses for their unique selling points, based on what ladies tell me they are looking for (and can’t often find) in a summer dress.
If your legs aren’t your favourite feature then there has never been a better time to look fabulous in a midi or full length dress. Team with flip flop style casual footwear in the daytime or on holiday and jewellery, a belt and mules to vamp it up a notch as the sun goes down. Other Stories is your best bet for midis currently.
The biggest gripe I hear is that there are never any dresses out there with sleeves for those who prefer a little more coverage on their upper arms. Admittedly, it’s not easy but they do exist which is lucky given that it hasn’t been nearly warm enough for those of us in the UK to go without sleeves. This number from French Connection has sleeves and it embraces the nautical and midi trends too. Wear with white plimsolls in the day for a laid back French vibe.
My favourite find of last summer was the 3 in 1 stretch dress from Gap which was obviously a hit as Gap have brought it back this year. The new version here has an uneven hem but retains the roll down bandeau top ideal for covering up from the pool to the table. I wore mine constantly last year both as dress and skirt, it’s the ultimate easy holiday piece as it doesn’t tend to crease in your suitcase. Add a tan belt and floppy hat for a romantic daytime look.
It can be a bit of a shock when summer suddenly arrives and you don’t feel body confident enough to go with the figure hugging stuff. This gorgeous dress from All Saints is a great work piece, will work equally as well with tights and a jacket as without and best of all has an eye-catching print and a bit of ruching around the dreaded tummy area. You’ll really get your money’s worth with this one.
It’s always harder I think to dress for occasions when the temperature rises, as it’s harder to be comfortable all day. Light fabrics show sweat too easily and god forbid you should drop something down pastel silk. Still, this dress from Reiss is so melt in the mouth, I couldn’t leave it out. It’s got pleats, it’s got a waist and it’s demure enough to wear to a wedding or christening. Probably best to stick to white wine and potato during any meals though.
And for my final trick… this crimson dress is so unlike any other I saw I have dreamed up an extra category just so I can include it. It’s such a statement dress that it would almost be worth buying it now to simply hang in your wardrobe (my boyfriend bought me an amazing dress I didn’t need based on this theory – sigh). It has sleeves this dress, but not much else, so underwear would be tricky, but hey, if you were wearing a dress like this wouldn’t you want to walk into rooms backwards anyway? Enjoy the sun dear readers, get your summer dresses out and use the time you save getting dressed in the morning to go shopping in the sales for a few more.