How to dress for Swinter (that's trans-seasonal fashion)
Freezing one minute, perspiring the next, September is all about the transitional wardrobe, with the dress a key element, writes our Fashion Editor
It happens every year. The kids go back to school and the weather suddenly improves and throws a balmy Indian summer at us. However, it's not shorts and T-shirt time, it's more urban, less beachy and this season, your ticket to style success in these sticky days is the pretty dress.
It may sound like a fashion contradiction, but the dress du jour for this 'shoulder' period of the style season is the practical, cover-up dress that doesn't leave much flesh on show.
Long-sleeved, high-necked, modest hemline, these wardrobe saviours are embued with tempting feminine touches - think boho queen Sienna Miller crossed with demure Olivia Palermo and multi-tasking Kate Middleton and you'll get this Swinter dress picture.
Practical across so many occasions, these dresses are selling out because they tick so many boxes - from workwear to weddings and weekends, from desk to dinner. And more than that, they're perfect for layering - the kind of thing you can wear with tights or under a cardigan when it gets chilly.
Part of the appeal of this modest, cover-up dress concept is that it comes in sheer fabrics like chiffon and silk, which offer the suggestion of cover-up but still a glimpse of flesh and are cool to wear. Such was the case with the Dolce & Gabbana dress (pictured right) with its striking, big floral print (€1,750). It stole the show at last week's Brown Thomas AW16 fashion showcase.
Swinter dresses arriving into stores come in pretty prints, like blousy, botantical florals. If your aesthetic is more block colour, you'll find metallic hues such as the uber comfortable Autograph ribbed, front tie dress (€67) pictured right, from M&S. If you can't wait until November to get into your velvet streak, then the €94 dusky pink pleated dress from Oasis is just for you.
Key to the trend is the pussy bow tie, cropping up from catwalk to high street.
Scoping out the options, I found a very affordable, long-sleeved, black floral print dress for just €22 at Penneys - mark it in your diary now, because it lands in store on October 3. The pussy bow tie is striking on the Ganni, black -based floral print dress (right), a new Danish label which is generating lots of love now at Arnotts and a new name for your Little Black Book.
Erdem struck a very sophisticated note with his lace trimmed, mid-calf dress (€1,665) from Brown Thomas with long cuff. The Victorian-style lace creates a lovely cross body silhouette and marks out Canadian designer, Erdem Moralioglu, for special attention in the dress sector where Peter Pilotto and Roksanda Illincic have dominated of late.
Another styling option is to toughen up your floral dress with a gilet or a leather biker for a relaxed weekend look. The maxi-length Savida dress (right) costs €70 and it will land in store in early October, and is part of a very strong collection.
I thoroughly enjoyed my style detective role this week and I discovered the most perfect, chiffon sleeved, khaki pleated tunic dress in Peter O'Brien's new collection. Insider knowledge: it launches September 14.