by Camilla Ridley
Special occasions, celebrations and weddings are back on, and it's time to re-discover the joys of dressing up again. Here are a few simple things you can do when choosing your outfit or that special dress to ensure you look and feel amazing.
Two of our new Ridley London summer dresses for special occasions include the (from left to right) the easy style Anita maxi dress shown here in the fabulous Jungle Trip printed floral silk satin and the Magda maxi dress in the same print shown here in pink crepe silk
Since re-opening the shop two weeks ago, we’ve received lots of enquiries for outfits for special occasions, particularly post lock down weddings. So many in fact that I thought it might be worth sharing some insights around how to go about finding your perfect outfit for those special summer occasions. As Clemintine Brown recently pointed out in The Sunday Times: “Getting dressed for someone else’s nuptials is already a tricky task…add to that the fact that we haven’t properly worn clothes in more than a year and the outfit choice is further complicated.” At the end of the day, we're all looking for that special outfit, that we can throw on and know we’re always going to look and feel our absolute best. But where can you find it and how do you know when it's right? Whether you're heading in-store or buying on-line here are a few things you should definitely think about:
1. Embracing this summer's more laid back style
Whether you’re heading to a cool country wedding or something a little more city chic, overall styles have definitely relaxed this summer. Long gone are the stuffy two piece mother of the bride staples of yesteryear and in their place is an array of fantastically easy cuts and chic wearable summer styles. Add this summer's trend for upbeat colours and prints and you’re worlds away from traditional wedding wear. For me there are probably three broad looks to be aware of this season:
1.1 The 'New Boho' look builds on last summer's trend for printed floral prairie style maxi dresses but this year there's added attitude with more extravagantly puffed sleeves, exaggerated collars and edgier detailing, plus new micro mini versions of maxi dress staples
1.2 The '70's revival' style brings all the glamour of the decade to life in full psychedelic colour popping Studio 54 glory. Expect bold Puccci-esque motifs, effortless kaftan styles and a multitude of sexy reveals
1.3 'Refeminisation' is a celebration of whimsical feminine style expressed through a multitude of floaty chiffon tiers, girly ruffles and quaint floral prints. Designers including trend setters Celine have updated the look by teaming it with punk street attitude. Although I do wonder how many wedding outfits this year will be accessorised with combat boots and a baseball cap?!
Two of our more feminine styles for special occasion dresses include (from left to right) the tiered Mathilda maxi dress in beautiful pale pink Carline Rose printed floral silk chiffon and the on-trend boho prairie style Paloma maxi dress shown here in the timeless Lemon Elysian Liberty printed cotton
2. Think versatility
With so much emphasis now on the environment and sustainability, the idea of buying an outfit to wear to a single occasion seems at the very least outdated. A good outfit should work for a number of occasions and be easy to style up or down depending on the level of formality or any dress codes involved. And it goes without saying that it should work seamlessly from day into evening.
3. Be open minded
It’s very easy to go into things with a fixed, pre-determined idea in mind. I can’t begin tell you about the number of conversations I had last week that started with the words "I’m looking for a wrap-stye dress”. It’s amazing how used to shopping on-line we’ve all become over the last year. Lockdown has certainly helped me to become a far more focused and efficient shopper. Unfortunately efficiency isn't a guarantee of quality and ironically can lead to greater stress with the hassle of endless returns as time runs out to find that perfect piece.
We all have a completely unique combination of physique, skin colouring, personality, aspirations and needs. So it’s logical that the cuts and colours that flatter one person won’t necessarily suit another. So why should a commodity off the rail product work for everyone? And let's face it, no-one likes arriving at the special event, feeling fantastic only to find a sea of the same dresses from the labels that are dominating the press and Google search that season. I’ve seen it happen.
My advice would always be start by better understanding yourself. Our previous post on styling for different body types and physiques is not a bad place to start. Above all, I would advise going into a store, for me nothing still beats the physical experience and interacting with a range of different garments. Our London store is currently open with a variety of new social distancing features in place for anyone feeling a little cautious. Our stylists are also on hand to help you discover your most flattering styles, colours and prints. And as we make individually everything to order you can literally have any style, made up in any print and adjusted for your most flattering fit. So you’ll be getting something entirely unique, so there’s no chance of clashing with anyone else.
Our special Ridley London dresses for this season are designed with tropical summer occasions and travel in mind. (From left to right) our new Meg maxi dress in the red Carline Rose printed floral silk chiffon fabric and the sleeveless Rebecca Carmen maxi dress in red Floribunda printed crepe de chine
4. Ask for adjustments
Once you’ve found that perfect style, and colour it’s worth seeing if you can get the fit just right. You would be surprised the difference an inch taken in or let out in various places can make to how a garment flatters and feels to wear. If you’re buying off the peg, often you can find a good local seamstress who can help, but it becomes tricky if you’re not a standard size. Especially if you’e dealing with a dress that is tiered for example, as it really shows if the bottom tier is shorter than the others. At Ridley London we individually make and cut every one of our beautiful floral print dresses to order, so we subtly re-proportion garments so not only do you get something that's the right length, but it’s adjusted to flatter. In this example, all the tiers are re-sized and made to the same length. And like most people if you have a different size top to bottom or slightly longer arms or a bigger bust, we can accommodate all of this to help you get your most flattering outfit.
5. Accessorise practically
The right accessories are key to creating the whole look. Often that quirky pair of heels or off-beat hat can say more about a person than a dress. And with the excitement of the impending celebration, it’s easy to forget that actually English summer weddings can suddenly turn cool, especially if they’re out doors and after 10pm so always throw in a pashmina or wrap. Likewise, traversing damp lawns suddenly become minefield in heels. Wedges are great on trend solution, giving you the same flattering elevation and added comfort, without the worry of a lawn induced tumble.
6. Some suggestions to get you started
Here are a few recommendations from our new Ridley London summer collection of luxurious statement printed floral dresses dresses and other outfits for a variety of different events:
The luxurious new collection of statement Ridley London floral print dresses for special occasions is available to purchase on-line and in Ridley's London store. Celebrate your individuality with a unique piece that's made to measure from your choice of any of our stunning new printed floral silks or cottons. Call us to arrange a virtual fitting:
Ridley London, 82 Church Road, Barnes, London SW13 0DQ T: 01730 823097