How to find the perfect summer dress Expert tips
Endlessly flattering and easy to wear, there’s one out there for everyone, writes Anna Murphy
It really is the best possible news. That the summer dress is having its moment. On the one hand, who cares about fashion’s whims? The sensible among us never stopped wearing this most flatteringly feminine of items. On the other, hurrah! So many beauteous frocks to choose from at the shops. And with stealth tweaks that add a cool edge to their womanhoodenhancing lines, such as a subtly asymmetric hemline. (Truly. Sounds odd. Looks awesome.) Or a modern floral print that’s brighter and bolder. Or a clash-match of contrast patterns. There’s more good news. Sleeves are plentiful. Remember how we used to lament their demise? Where oh where are the dresses with sleeves, we used to ask. Answer, finally: everywhere! “What does every woman look good in, whatever her age and size?” asked the soignée septuagenarian Carolina Herrera when I met her recently. It was a rhetorical question, of course. “A dress,” continued the world-renowned fashion designer. “It’s not a pair of jeans. It’s a dress.” The fashion icon herself was wearing a denim shirt-dress so upscale as to be wedding-guest appropriate.
Surely it can’t be that straightforward, though? Not quite. “You have to get the proportions right,” says Carolina. “The dress shouldn’t wear you. You should wear the dress.” And before you buy anything at all – frock or otherwise – you need what the designer calls “the most essential accessory a woman can have”. Which is? “A full-length mirror. And you stand in front of it and ask, ‘What do I need? What is wrong with me?’”
I have further good news: there are more ways of wearing a dress than ever before. If the fabric is fine and flowing – a good rule of thumb, generally – you might layer it over jeans or trousers, adding extra attitude with a pair of ankle boots, or, for a more ladylike approach, with this season’s nano-heel (super-small, super-wearable). If the dress is a wrap or button-down, you can add in a T-shirt, and leave it open so that it works like a kimono or duster coat.
The summer dress. We love it, it loves us. ’Tis going to be the summer of our content. w&h