Wednesday 21 August 2019

How to wear... the summer dress

No one can resist the appeal of a breezy frock. This season’s most wanted include pretty prints, flattering silhouettes and polka dots, writes Meadhbh McGrath

Sarah Jessica Parker wearing a summer dress in New York City
Sarah Jessica Parker wearing a summer dress in New York City
Sarah Jessica Parker. Photo: Broadimage/REX
Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Photo: Getty
Earrings, €55 from Loulerie at Arnotts
Green linen, €99.95 from Massimo Dutti
Navy printed, €20 from Tesco
White lace, €110 from French Connection
Blue striped, €76 from Monsoon
Green printed, €79 from Monsoon
Wedges, €55 from Office
Red gingham, €280 from Sleeper at netaporter.com
Superga trainers, €71 from Schuh
Mules, €50 from Topshop
Denim jacket, €39.99 from H&M
Multi striped, €61 from Warehouse
Yellow wrap style, €99.99 from Selected Femme at Arnotts

Meadhbh McGrath

The summer dress is a staple of our warm weather wardrobes, and this season's selection offers something for everyone. A breezy frock is the one item you can count on people of every shape, size and style to flock to once the temperatures rise.

It's a do-it-all piece that can keep you looking cool yet polished for any occasion, however you feel about sprightly florals or picnic gingham.

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Zara's polka-dot midi has proven to be 2019's viral hit, and has been dubbed the "dress of the summer", due to its seeming omnipresence and suitability for the unpredictable weather. But if you fancy something a little less ubiquitous, there's a bounty of options on the high street.

Pretty prints are a particular favourite, as seen on Kate Middleton at a recent garden picnic with children. The wrap dress is a famously flattering style, and the flowing silhouette combined with the elegant all-over print gives the look a casually dressy feel.

The printed dress has become a fixture in Kate's summer wardrobe - she opted for a floral ruffle version from & Other Stories at a photography workshop last month, and a delicate pink-and-white micro-print number at a polo match.

Her preferred shape is a midi length with floaty, fluted sleeves that provide a little more coverage, finished off with lace-up espadrille wedges. The effect is laid-back yet miles more pulled-together than any common-or-garden sundress.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Photo: Getty
Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Photo: Getty

Monsoon has a bottle green design similar to Kate's, or try something more vibrant with Selected Femme's zingy marigold floral dress - both look equally stylish with espadrilles or a pair of crisp flatform trainers.

Florals not your thing? Stick to stripes, and you'll find many reasonable offerings in the shops. A classic blue-and-white stripe can be lifted by bold accessories (we suggest a sunny yellow sandal), or look to Warehouse's multi-coloured version, which just needs a denim jacket shrugged over the shoulders for an easy summer's day look.

The other reigning dress trends this season are laid-back neutrals (such as the khaki dress worn by Meghan Markle earlier this month), bright white (spotted on the likes of Rosie Huntington Whiteley, Michelle Obama and Karlie Kloss) and shirred styles.

The latter, as seen on Sarah Jessica Parker in New York last week, is particularly popular as its flexible fit flatters the figure so well. The gathered and elasticated area, most commonly found around the bust or the waist of a dress, stretches and expands to hug the body and emphasise your silhouette, without clinging or cutting in.

It's comfortable and wonderfully forgiving, and especially chic with a skirt that flows to midi or maxi length and contrasting puff sleeves.

You can track down shirred dresses everywhere from F&F at Tesco to cult brands such as Sleeper, and they're versatile enough to be dressed up or down with flat sandals, trainers or flashy heels.

If you want to bring a dash more glamour to your outfit for a wedding or evening event, look to Gugu Mbatha-Raw's fashionable turn at a summer party, where she paired her hot pink Erdem dress with gold sandals. The magic of a summer dress with such a simple silhouette is that it can transition easily from day to night, with the help of some added bling.

Topshop's metallic mules have been a consistent sell-out, and will go a long way towards elevating even the most relaxed shapes and styles. To balance out the top and bottom, try some delicate gold and pearl jewellery for a refined finishing touch.

Irish Independent

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