by Camilla Ridley
That mythical, transformational dress that you can effortlessly throw on, that works as well on the beach as it does in the boardroom. Does it exist? And how can you find it?
And suddenly it's the middle of June! And with the sun finally out and with temperatures on the rise, now is the perfect time to think about your high summer wardrobe. Especially, those one or two fabulous key pieces which will see you through all manner of summer events, onto the aeroplane and into the beach bar…rosé in hand! For me, summer is all about the dress. And this season, summer dresses are pride of place in every fashionista’s wardrobe. The news is the summer dress is very much back in vogue. As Anna Murphy, resident fashion guru for The Times recently wrote "I would go as far as to say we are living through a dress renaissance!” A reason to be cheerful if ever there was one.
For me, summer dresses go far beyond a zeitgeisty fashion moment. Without doubt a great summer dress is one of the most practical and comfortable investments you’ll ever make. Easily the lightest, coolest and least constricting option and actually the most flattering. A good dress will skim the surface, smoothing out your lines and pulling your figure together as well as your look. And these days, a dress is easily the most relaxed option. Not so long ago, dresses used to be... well a bit dressy really. Great for that wedding, or garden party...or even the office. But not the type of thing one could just throw on and feel amazing and comfortable. Then suddenly everything changed. We all became a bit more relaxed and dressed a little more casually and a whole new raft of super relaxed, chic dress styles appeared with a host of magic transformational properties. From the elongating Maxi to the versatile Midi, and with them the way we wore dresses changed. Its this liberation in the way we wear that has given rise to the possibility of the hero summer dress.
Your hero statement summer dress with its sassy halter neck style is the dress to be seen in. The relaxed cut features a slimming silhouette which is unusually flattering on the arms. While it’s an obvious choice for a special evening out, it can also be styled for everyday wear by adding a denim jacket and trainers. It's also available in a maxi length.
The hero dress is that go-to summer dress that fits you perfectly. Everyone asks where you bought it and you know it makes you feel your most confident and relaxed. You can just throw it on and the transformation is immediate. But the thing that really marks out the hero summer dress is it’s versatility. And with some simple styling changes, you can literally wear it everywhere. It will take you from morning til late, from the office and the school run to dinner out. And frankly there’s no good reason you wouldn’t take it on holiday. Above all, it takes the fuss out of dressing. No more co-ordinating tops and bottoms. And these days you can wear it with any shoes as long as you do it with attitude. Enabling you to change up the vibe with trainers or heels, depending on the given look you want to achieve suitable to the destinations of your day. So how do you find that hero dress?
Our hero every-day summer dress will literally take you everywhere: from day into the evening, from work to pleasure. The relaxed shirt dress style is made from luxurious lightweight silk chiffon and features a slimming waisted cut, full length sleeves and an elongating maxi length skirt. It can be easily dressed up with heels and a summer blazer or toned down with a denim jacket or by adding trainers for a more youthful look.
This is something we’ve been thinking about quite a lot here at Ridley London. I really believe that everyone deserves to find their hero dress that’s going to help them to look and feel amazing this summer. The most important thing to emphasise is your hero dress is going to be a very personal thing. It may seem obvious, but you’ll be surprised at the amount of people I meet who completely overlook this. We’re all individuals and what’s right for one person won’t necessarily fit another. So I would certainly recommend going into this with an open mind and even prepare to be slightly surprised. To help you find your hero dress, I’ve put together the following quick check list which is a summary of the process we go through with each customer when we’re helping them find the dress that’s perfect for them.
To feel confident, you’ve got to feel completely comfortable wearing something. And the best dresses really feel like an extension of each of us. So we start by getting to know each customer which provides some useful parameters to work within. As a starting point it’s worth being clear about your personality and where you feel at your most comfortable. Are you naturally bold, outgoing and courageous? Or perhaps a little more low key and happier to fit in rather than stand out? are you cool and aloof or warm and friendly?
Our hero boho maxi is your perfect throw on summer dress. Incredibly easy and versatile, it’s flattering laid back style looks as at home in a restaurant with heels and jewellery as it does sauntering along a beach in flip-flops or in the office with trainers.
What’s your aspirational image? How do you want people to see you? Maybe a little more bohemian and laid back? perhaps slightly edgier? Or if you’re planning to wear it in a more formal working environment you may even want to be seen as being very together and focused. As well as feeling absolutely right, a really great dress will bring a fresh edge, which can be enhanced with clever styling.
We always look at each customers skin tones and eye colouring. Are you a vibrant spring or perhaps a more olive coloured autumn? Essentially this will help us to identify your natural colour palette and the silks and prints which are going to make you look and feel amazing. You can read our recent post with colour guru Jules Standish to find out more.
Our hero sun dress with its off the shoulder style, relaxed cut and flattering ruffled sleeves shouts holiday. This dress will see you from lunch into cocktails and dinner with the minimum of effort. It looks as good with trainers as it does with wedges and could happily worn anywhere with sunshine
4. Body Shape
What’s your natural body shape? Are you very tall or petite? Curvy or slender? Pear shaped or straight? While there are a lot of myths out there, for example maxi dresses swamp petite physiques, many of them really only apply when buying straight off the rail. It is true however that certain body types benefit from specific treatments, necklines and hemlines. You really have so many more options with an individually made dress that’s been adjusted for the perfect fit. We’ll be looking at ‘fit and body shape' in more detail in our next post.
5. Versatility Spectrum
While everyone wants a dress for every eventuality, it helps to be clear about what you might typically be wearing it for. As well as making sure it’s got the versatility to cover a whole spectrum of activities, this will help to identify easy, interchangeable styling options for more formal and casual occasions. Footwear, jackets, jewellery, accessories and hair and make up play a big part. With the more contemporary and relaxed styles definitely helping people look younger.
I do hope this gives you some useful insights when shopping for that hero summer dress and will hopefully help you find a dress that's going to work harder as well as make you look and feel amazing. Do get in touch if you have any questions or would like any further advice. we’d love to hear from you and help you find your hero summer dress.