by Camilla Ridley
With lockdown regulations easing and stunning sunshine, it's time to meet up outside to embrace nature and enjoy everything spring has to offer.
One of the great pleasures of spring's warmer weather is the chance to spend more time outside, including eating and picnicking. I enjoyed a fabulously fresh and easy light lunch with @jo_jo_blogs in our garden yesterday shown here in our luxurious new printed floral cotton Paloma maxi dress in Lemon Elysium. I'm wearing one of our Madelena shirt dresses in Navy minuette Liberty print silk.
Finally the moment we’ve been waiting for all winter has come. And the weather couldn’t be more perfect this week for grabbing the nearest chilled bottle of rosé, donning your glad rags and heading outside for some long awaited spring socialising. if you’re like me, you will have noticed that the pages of the fashion magazines and influencer social media feeds are literally vibrating with style, colour and print. Spring is of course the time where we can all legitimately turn up the contrast dial and bloom. But this year, the context of exiting lockdown has turned the fashion dial up to full party mode. And what’s more, The Weather Outlook’s long term forecast for summer here in the UK is looking pretty fantastic. Given the amount of outdoor socialising we’ll clearly all be doing, what’s the best way to balance this seasons emphasis on glamour with the practicalities of picnicking? Especially as the early April British weather can suddenly turn a bit chilly.
It’s clear that we're all looking for an immediate fix to boost our mojos and get us up, out there and looking and feeling fabulous. And as the fashion zeitgeist is demonstrating, this should be a complete contrast to the last four months of baggy jumpers, leggings and leisurewear. But it doesn’t have to mean heading out of the front door with a picnic blanket and full on sequins. Unless of course that’s the way you roll and who am I to judge? From experience, what I will say is stilettos, damp grass and alcohol are not the most compatible of combinations! Luckily fashion has evolved with the concept of comfortable glamour. Yes it’s very much ok to mix a summer dress with white trainers and a denim jacket, regardless of age. But there are some practical things you might wish to consider when choosing that perfect picnic look.
Dressing for outdoor socialising and particularly picnics is a careful balancing act between this spring's style of exaggerated glamour and practicality. (Left) @heidybrynjacobsenyoga setting out in a luxurious new printed floral silk Mathilda maxi skirt and one of our new pink ruffled cotton Livvi blouses. (Right) The midi length hem and easy cut of our new Ridley London floral printed cotton Mara dress make it a stylish and practical choice for wearing outdoors this spring and summer
Nothing says celebration and spring feel good like this season’s Pantone fashion shades of Illuminating Yellow, Pirouette Pink, Purple Rose Lilac, and tropical Attol Blue. But It’s worth noting that not all of these shades suit everyone, especially if they’re worn in solid form close to the face as a top or dress. However they’ll look great if worn as a skirt or as an accent colour within a print.
Floral print is everywhere this season, as digital fashion bible Sheerluxe point out “Pretty florals nod to a change in the season, few pieces are as indispensable as a pretty floral midi dress.” Prints also bring greater colour flexibility and if tailored in correctly can really enhance the slenderness of a wearer and draw attention to ones best assets. On a practical level the visual detail in print is great at masking any stains.
If you’re lounging around on picnic blankets, I would always go for something that can be easily washed at a warm temperature to remove the inevitable grass and food staines. Cotton is definitely the best choice here.
Two more of our new Ridley London printed floral cotton midi dresses are perfect for spending time outdoors this season. Our new Willow shirt dress (left) features warmer longer sleeves as well as an on trend mix of Liberty prints. While our new Josie dress (right) features this season's enlarged Peter Pan style collar and a pretty tiered skirt
More often than not, the perfect picnic spot is a good hike from the carpark. And while the elongating properties of a well tailored maxi dress are legendary, there’s nothing worse than worrying about tripping over your hem when you’re laden down with baskets, bags, boxes and bottles. Short of investing in a festival cart…not a bad idea…this season’s trend for pretty floral print midi and midaxi dresses and skirts directly taps into the practicality of the picnic look.
Likewise, I’d go with a great pair of white trainers or flip flops when it gets warmer. As well as being incredibly comfortable, they also help to create a more nonchalantly laid back look.
6. Layering up
Remember however warm it feels at mid day, it can suddenly get chilly. At this time of year, I would always recommend bringing either a cardigan or one of this season’s on-trend tank tops and probably a denim jacket.
Picnic in style
We’ve all had a think at this end and have compiled a list of our top points to transform your picnic into a super stylish get together.
1. Great glasses
Plastic cups are fine but glasses definitely introduce a much needed touch of sophistication, especially if the wines half way decent. We love these ones from Rinkit, reassuringly durable, stylish and in a range of fun colours. We’d also recommend bringing proper plates and cutlerly which are less likely to break, especially if you wrap everything in napkins or tea towels before packing it.
2. Super cool wine
We love the Etoile rosé from our friends at Mirabeau, the perfect feel good sunshine drink. Make sure you put it in the freezer half an hour before leaving and then wrap the bottle with damp newspaper. It works a treat, especially if you add an additional insulating wine bag, or bottle ice pack.
Delicate and sophisticated Etoile rosé from our friends @maisonmirabeau has got to be my favourite lunchtime tipple, but it's imperative you serve it ice cold. In fact I always bring extra ice with me to give it that authentic Provence feel. (Right) @heidybrynjacobsenyoga picnicking in one of our new printed floral silk maxi skirts and classic silk honour blouses
3. Fresh spring flavours
Spring is the time for maximum freshness and for all the wonderful produce like English asparagus that you don’t get at other times of the year. We love a prima vera salad from Ottolenghi which mixes the freshness of British spring flavours with a touch of the exotic: see recipe. And if you’re thinking spring meat, British lamb is wonderful, largely farmed organically and sustainably these days. We love a pre-grilled shoulder of Meonside Lamb with this wonderful marinade from Ottolenghi see recipe.
4. Style your rug
Of course part of the charm of a picnic is the feeling of freedom and sense of closeness to nature created by the outdoor setting and impromptu style. However it’s easy to add a touch of chic with some simple additions. Try adding some colour and print with our liberty print napkins. I’d also recommend a simple jug of garden flowers.
I think it was legendary chef Auguste Escoffier who said 'we eat with our eyes' so why should presenting a picnic be any different to a meal at home? I always like to style the setting up with some of our Liberty print floral cotton napkins as well as proper plates, glasses and cutlery. Somehow it helps all those wonderful spring flavours to just feel fresher. (bottom) my favourite spring salad from Ottolenghi balances the best seasonal British ingredients with a subtle dash of the exotic for something that's very simple to throw together but a little bit different and absolutely delicious.
5. Pack for practicality
The key to a great picnic is making sure you're fully prepared to make serving outside a breeze. Apart from sealable plastic food containers and an ice box I always try and remember to bring a wooden bread board and bread knife, a small cooks knife, a bottle opener of course, kitchen roll, a rubbish bag and wet wipes.
Our luxurious new collection is available to purchase on-line and will be available in our London store when restrictions are eased on April 12. In the meantime you can 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