If there's one thing I know, it's dresses. My wardrobe is full of them, and I wear them 99.9% of the time. I've always struggled with casual (long-time Who What Wear readers will have repeatedly read about my ongoing struggle with denim—sorry to be a bore!), so easy, good-looking frocks are my most trusted fashion staple.
I have affordable ones that I wear each and every week. I have special, more expensive ones that come out for important occasions or big meetings. I have those in-between, mid-priced options that bridge the gap between casual days and fancy ones. I own styles that are ultra-summery and best for heatwaves and holiday packing, but I've also got a fair number of clever, trans-seasonal styles that can work layered up and with tights in winter or with bare legs and sandals during warmer months. I even have dresses that I've made at home because I can't always find the exact colour, shape or fit I've been dreaming of. I have some It dresses, I suppose—although, I'm always very careful to buy something that really speaks to my personal style and that I know I'll wear even when its cult status has worn off. I may own a lot of frocks, but entry into my wardrobe isn't easy. I'm a pretty discerning customer who values quality and longevity above all else.
On Hannah: A Kooples dress I wore for a shoot a few summers ago and really wish I had bought…
So who could be better positioned to bring you a very trustworthy edit of the best new-in dresses than a self-confessed frock obsessive with a very picky taste? No one! I'll update this gallery often, but to begin with, here are the loveliest styles I've seen this week.
Shop this week's best new-in dresses
NastyGal Ruched Bust Tie Back Midi Dress (£39)
I almost can't believe this is a high street dress. What a colour! What bodice! And you have to click through to see the lovely scooped back too. Gorgeous.
Stine Goya Selene Dress (£210)
Stine Goya's prints are always unique and the shapes and fabrics are always easy to fling on, so this dress manages to be fancy enough for a wedding but also offbeat enough to wear to a laid back BBQ.
Urban Outfitters Uo White Rose Broderie Anglaise Mini Dress (£49)
It's just very adorable and has all the charm of a vintage piece.
Isabel Marant Albi Ruched Printed Silk-Blend Crepe De Chine Midi Dress (£970)
Marant's autumn paisley prints are coming in and they're lovely. Styled on the runways with chunky waist belts and cowboy boots, you can toughen up these pretty patterns or keep them light and sweet with strappy sandals.
Franks London Frankie Polka Dot Dress Navy (£190)
Sustainable label Franks creates really demure dress styes that will stand the test of time. This navy polka-dot number is the kind of trusty number you could pull out every single summer without hesitation.
Uterque Check Midi Dress (£125)
From the sharp collar to the nipped waist and vibrant check, this high street piece is full of character.
RI Studio Rust Cotton Oversized Dress (£60)
I'm slowly coming round to the idea of looser-fitting dresses and seeing both our shopping editor, Joy Montgomery, and influencer Erica Davies showing some love for this RI Studio midi has convinced me.
Johanna Ortiz Sacred Soul Abstract-Print Linen Midi Dress (£1015)
Shop last week's best new-in dresses:
Nobody's Child Lenzing™ Ecovero™ Red and Blue Floral Serena Mini Dress (£37)
There's something about the punchy colours of this floral pattern that belies its high-street price-tag.
Alexander McQueen Sweetheart Faille and Taffeta Midi Dress (£2450)
There's nothing I don't feel head-over-stompy-boots in love with: The vibrant green, the sweetheart bodic, the ruffled tiered, the volume in the skirt, the styling… be mine!
Rixo Jess Printed Midi Dress (£265)
I'm just in love with this shade of pink and the artsy print of Rixo's new Jess dress. Perfect for wedding season and beyond, I'd wear this in the autumn with black knee boots.
& Other Stories Puff Sleeve Midi Dress (£85)
I have a black midi dress from & Other Stories' first ever collection and I still wear it every summer without fail. So I would highly recommend any similar versions.
Cult Gaia Jhene Pointelle Knit Cotton-Blend Midi Dress (£390)
Cult Gaia's knit dresses have something of a, er, cult following and this new iteration won't hang around for long. It's easier to wear than some of their cut-out styles and is such a beautiful brick colour.
Realisation Par The Uta (£170)
I don't think I'd ever, ever have the guts to wear this, but it's so Cher from Clueless that I just had to include it.
NastyGal Poplin Square Neck Balloon Sleeve Maxi Dress (£39)
I'm always here for dresses that do all the hard work making an entrance for you. This pink beauty is one such number.
Aligne Blair Midi Dress Mid Blue (£89)
Never met a denim dress I didn't like, but this is extra-great because it comes from conscious brand, Aligne.
& Other Stories Linen Puff Sleeve Midi Dress (£95)
It's linen. It's got puff sleeves. It's in a delightfully unique shade of cornflower blue. This beautiful midi has everything going for it.
16arlington Odessa Twist-Front Feather-Trimmed Crepe Mini Dress (£695)
I've become fixated on finding a perfect black mini dress to wear to the parties I'm really hoping I'll attend later in the year. No other brand does them better right now than London-based 16Arlington, and plenty of celebrities would agree with me.
Aje Gracious Dress (£535)
I am lucky enough to own this dress in black and it is even more DIVINE in real life, I tell you!
M&S Collection Polka Dot Collared Midi Dress (£45)
Polka dot dresses are never out of fashion. This one feels particularly easy to throw on and either work from home in comfort or for any possible reason to leave the house!
Albaray Blue Gingham Midi Dress (£79)
I think you can probably guess by this point that I'm into dresses that feel comfy and simple to wear but still have plenty of design features and impact. This loose-fitting gingham style from a new affordable British brand called Albaray ticks the boxes.
Alemais Ivy Sage Linen Maxi Dress (£360)
Alemais is a new Australian brand we've got an eye on. This subtly beautiful linen dress is the kind of special item minimalists and maximialists can both appreciate, and it will look good for many, many years to come.
Free People Oasis Midi Dress (£98)
I have this Free People Oasis dress from a couple of summers ago in a hue that's slightly more beige and I wear it on repeat throughout the warmer months. There's a reason why FP are bringing it back time and again—this is a silhouette that flatters everyone and the swishy skirt and voluminous sleeves feel really luxe.
Allsaints Erna Dress (£139)
Don't hate me for thinking about autumn trends, but there's a big movement for modestly-cut knitted dresses and this is a very chic version I'd regret not having when the temps drop.
Rhode Ella Dress (£360)
I'm not known for choosing short hemlines, but there's something about these full-skirted Rhode dresses that make me feel more comfortable with the idea. The brand keeps bringing this silhouette back in different colours and prints, so I'm clearly not alone in my appreciation.
COS Gathered Dress (£79)
Okay, yes! This brings all the drama with its gathered neckline and voluminous sleeves, yet it seems oh so casual to fling on thanks to the dark colour and roomy midi silhouette. Personally, being 5'1'', I'd probably belt this so I didn't drown in it, but I like the idea of wearing it loose á la the Olsen twins with flats and boho hair.
Kitri Margot Green Check Midi Dress (£145)
I'm a very lucky and spoilt person who managed to get hold of one of these dresses ahead of the crazy-big waiting list. Don't hate me! Just trust me when I say this comfy, ultra-summery tiered gingham masterpiece is worth pracitising some patience for. Kitri's dresses always fit my petite frame well, and I had plenty of wear out of this style in a plain orange linen fabric last summer, so I know it'll have many days in the sun.
Ghost Alara Dress (£149)
I've collected a mini Ghost dress collection over the years for a reason: This brand is brilliant at creating slinky, flattering bias-cut styles that just skim over your body effortlessly. This new Alara style will have me channeling some kind of Lily James-esque 1940s character, perhaps with espadrilles and a little basket bag.
Molly Goddard Rowena Dress (£780)
Talking of espadrilles and a basket bag, how perfect would this red sundress be with that accessorising formula? When I invest in more expensive dresses, I tend to gravitate towards plain, unprinted styles because patterns and motifs can date more easily. This has all the charm of a vintage piece with the modernity of something new and pared back. From the statement sailor collar (which extends so beautifully to the back) to the darted waist and frilled hem, this has many beautiful details that I'll appreciate forever.
Weekday Vic One Shoulder Dress (£20)
Owning multiple black midi dresses isn't a crime if you pull them out time and again over the decades! So this tube style is definitely the kind that will always garner compliments and make an impact thanks to its asymmetric cut-out neckline, but it will also be timeless enough to feel wearable on repeat. I like how Weekday has styled it here with kitten-heel sandals and shades for a very '90s take.
Loud Bodies Florence Dress (£155)
If you haven't met Loud Bodies yet, then let me introduce you. Size inclusive, sustainably minded and actually stylish, this indie brand based in Romania is setting the bar so high, and other companies should really be paying attention. Even the scraps of fabric left over after the small team hand-sews these dresses are used to create pillows that are donated to animal shelters. I mean!
I saw this dress in a brighter pink shade on Nicole Ocran and have been into it ever since. The sizing goes from XXS to 10XL, but you can also get in touch for free-of-charge custom orders if you have any specific requirements.
Warehouse Broderie Dress With Frill and Short Sleeve (£63)
I have a broderie anglaise dress from Warehouse which is now all but sold out. So I'm recommending this in the hope that it is a similarly great fit and is really nice quality. The fact that it's a substantial cotton fabric with a proper cotton lining makes all the difference in comparison to other lesser high-street versions—not see-through and should sit well. I like wearing mine with a black belt to emphasise my waist and matching black sandals because they're the summer shoes I own the most of!
Usisi Sister Leah Tie-Detailed Cotton-Blend Gauze Midi Dress (£320)
Anything with a safari vibe in summer lures me in, so this smart-but-simple belted dress from Usisi Sister is automatically on the list. A great heatwave work option but also a very chic choice for events like garden parties or BBQs. All you need to complete the look is a pair of tan sandals and a smattering of gold jewellery.
Christopher Esber Tie-Detailed Cutout Wool and Cashmere-Blend Maxi Dress (£660)
Australian designer Christopher Esber's cut-out waistlines have become something of a phenomenon this year, and his summer pieces have been selling fast. The trend is set to continue well into autumn/winter (no, fashion people don't feel the cold), and I think this cashmere-blend version does the look in a very sophisticated, subtle way (yes, fashion people are already thinking about shopping for autumn).
ASOS Edition Sequin Wrap Midi Dress in Floral Sequin (£180)
Wedding season has suddenly been thrust upon us, and I think this makes for the ultimate look-at-me dress that is still 100% comfortable. There's nothing more distracting on the day than something you feel self-conscious in or have to spend all day adjusting. It's a real "wow" piece, so you can keep your hair, makeup, jewellery and accessories minimal. Zero fuss, maximum impact.
Next up, these are the autumn trends we're planning to wear.
This story was published at an earlier time and has since been updated.
Additional imagery: @hannahalmassi
This article originally appeared on Who What Wear
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