Is there a greater fashion find than a stonking dress that you can wear for all manner of occasions? We think not. The new-season collections are arriving thick and fast, and one thing’s for sure: the lines between day and night, work and weekend are blurring (think gingham gowns and suped-up shirt dresses). In the spirit of the new season's mixed-up mood, we've rounded up our favourite go-anywhere dresses that you can wear all week, from Monday’s board meeting to Sunday’s picnic in the park.
Taste the rainbow
The new season is big on bold colour; whether it’s sunshine yellow, tomato red or ‘millennial’ pink (basically somewhere between Barbie and apricot, in case you’re not familiar), it’s all about bright, solid shades that make an impact. Our favourite colour-block frock, right now? This exclusive Philosophy maxi dress is perfect for brightening up sunny holidays and drizzly garden parties alike (not that we have a thing for yellow or anything…)
What lies beneath
Call it the unpredictable weather, call it our staunch determination to keep pre-holiday legs concealed, but there’s something about wearing trousers under dresses that just feels right at the moment. Not sure how to pull off this typically tricky trend? A light slip or a silky wrap dress over straight-cut jeans or trousers is a good place to start, or wear Stella McCartney’s printed dress with the matching trousers and shirt, and the hard work is done for you.
Sleeve it out
Fashion’s long-standing love-in with statement sleeves continues, providing us with a profusion of dresses that are totally office-appropriate but far from dull. This Roksanda dress – with its fluted balloon sleeves that tease an unexpected flash of coral – is the ultimate demure-yet-fancy choice for those days when you have a dress-to-impress meeting followed by after-work dinner with friends. Your boss and buddies will be impressed in equal measure.
Dress up, dress down
We live in a brave new world where traditional dress codes no longer apply (leggings to brunch, anyone?), and feeling ‘underdressed’ or ‘overdressed’ is officially a thing of the past. This season brings us plenty of traditionally evening-skewed pieces that are screaming out to see the light of day – think slinky satin slip dresses dressed down with fluffy slides, or dramatic floor-sweeping skirts with backless flats. Just add minimal accessories and undone hair to complete the ‘what, this old thing?’ look.
Remember the days when a gingham dress was the school uniform starting gun for summer? As all good fashion moments have a habit of going full circle, the nostalgic print is infiltrating our dress wardrobes once more. However, there’s nothing elementary about the new season’s crop of grown-up gingham. Streamlined cuts and boxy shapes offset the inherent girliness of gingham – think asymmetric silhouettes from Rosetta Getty, oversized proportions from Thom Browne and simple shift dresses from Toga. Ready, set, summer!
The original round-the-clock frock is undoubtedly the shirt dress, which combines the formality of a shirt with the throw-on-ability of a dress, making it an easy option for…well, pretty much anywhere. This season, J.W. Anderson disrupts the shirt dress status quo (we’d expect nothing less from him) by adding bold plaid, trailing ruffles and a collarless neckline. Meanwhile, Diane von Furstenberg (with Jonathan Saunders at the helm) spoils us for choice with silky shirt dresses that are flattering and feminine.
There are myriad ways in which sportswear influences our modern wardrobes – the latest being this hooded floral dress from the new Alexa Chung collection. “I love this dress because it’s got a slight Ossie Clark feel to it, also a bit of 1930s, and then the hood just takes it somewhere else,” says Alexa Chung. “It’s also really good for hiding from people. The casual tea dress – who knew there was a gap in the market for it?” Watch our full interview with Alexa here, as she reveals her favourite pieces from the new collection.
Now, we can’t talk about 24/7 dresses without giving a shout out to the reigning champion of day-to-night frocks – the slip dress. Quite frankly, we couldn’t imagine our wardrobes without them, so picture our glee when we discovered this season’s arrival of the slip’s jumpsuit counterpart from London-based label Galvan. Slinky, versatile and just the right side of sexy, it has all the joys of a slip dress with the added fashion clout of a jumpsuit.
The city kaftan
Once destined for holidays only, kaftans have broken free from the confines of the suitcase and infiltrated our everyday wardrobes – and for good reason. A slew of new designers, including Ukranian talent Yuliya Magdych, have redefined the term ‘kaftan’ – goodbye flimsy beach cover-up; hello richly embroidered, thick cotton dress that looks just as good pounding the pavements as it does sauntering along the beach. Just add heels to take it from casual to formal in a jiffy.
A mini moment
The shift dress, pioneered in the 1960s by fashion designer Mary Quant, may be simple in design, but in fashion terms, the word ‘shift’ summed up perfectly the advent of a more relaxed, liberated approach to dressing. Quant eschewed the more structured clothes still popular with couturiers, in order to create clothes that women could, as she said, “run for a bus in”. You can see a collection of Quant’s most famous designs at ‘Mary Quant: Fashion Icon’ – an exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery, until 5 November 2017.