We Went Into an Actual Store and Fell in Love With These 19 Dresses

·7-min read

As a digital fashion website, here at Who What Wear we are all about the ease and convenience of shopping for clothes online. However regardless of how seamless the returns policy is or how fast next day delivery is, you sometimes just can't beat the feeling of trying on pieces in real life. As shops—and changing rooms—have now re-opened, we have finally been able to bring back our We Try Before You Buy franchise, and give you an honest first-hand account of our changing room successes. Shopping Editor Joy Montgomery and myself went to the beautiful shopping suites at MatchesFashion's Carlos Place and Brownsfashion's new boutique on Brook Street, and decided to try on summer dresses.

We added an extra element to our challenge—Joy could only try on minimalist, simple dresses in a muted colour palette and with subtle design details. I on the other hand went for the opposite of subtle, trying on all the bold, colourful, maximalist dresses I could get my hands on. Keep scrolling for the 19 dresses we fell in love with after our first exercusion to a changing room in 2021.

Joy Tries on Minimalist Dresses:

Despite the fact that Emma told me I looked a little like a nun (in a good way) in this dress, I'm still a big fan. It definitely has that covered-up feel, but it's tempered by the smocked bust and arm details which give the whole thing shape and drama.

Toteme X Browns 50 Smocked Cotton Maxi Dress (£481)

I've seen so many people in this Asceno dress on Instagram recently, and I can definitely see it's throw-on-and-go appeal when tried on IRL. The only thing I would say is that both its neckline and back are rather plunging, so bear in mind for underwear choices!

Asceno Capri Linen Maxi Dress (£365)

This is definitely one of my favourite dresses from the whole try-on. I'm just so in love with the rich blue hue and floaty silken fabric. It's the sort of style I would love to still be wafting around in in my 80s with ridiculous costume jewellery and bare feet.

Asceno Rhodes Silk Maxi Dress (£485)

This isn't the sort of thing I would usually go for (cut-outs tend to scare me), but for some reason this iteration from St Agni felt a little more accessible thanks to its adjustable tie fastening. It's exactly what I want to be wearing over a bikini on a balmy beach holiday.

St Agni Mia Tie Front Mini Dress (£190)

I've long been a fan of Issey Miyake's plisse fabric designs, so I couldn't turn down the chance to try on one of the brand's dresses. Unusually sized by height, the dress's fit is fairly flexible and also super comfy. A classic in the making for sure.

Pleats Please Issey Miyake Technical-Pleated Longline Dress (£308)

I fell in love with the candy stripe iteration of this Ganni dress when I saw it on Instagram, but because I'm repping minimalism today I decided to try on the non-printed version. This is definitely one for anyone who loved a covered-up smock but wants a little shaping round the middle.

Ganni Smocked-Bodice Organic Cotton-Blend Midi Dress (£305)

This retro-inspired LBD is just too cute for words. Coming in a heavyweight linen fabric, I can imagine wearing with sandals and sunnies now then swapping out for knee high boots and a layered roll neck come winter.

Lisa Marie Fernandez Scalloped-Edge Linen Shift Dress (£800)

The minis really are coming up trumps this season, and this draped style from Loup Charmant has really converted me to the thigh-skimming hemline. I like how the shorter length is balanced out by the Grecian-style draped sleeves and high neckline.

Loup Charmant Kitta Open-Back Organic-Cotton Mini Dress (£330)

I've had this frayed mini on my wishlist for a while now, so I enjoyed the chance to try on in-store. While it's not your usual ankle-length minimalist smock, I still think the cut's simplicity is ideal for anyone who prefers clean-lined aesthetics for the summer months. Oh and also it's on sale now, if you needed further persuading.

Marques'Almeida Janis Raw-Edged Denim Mini Dress (£140)

This is one of those dress-up dress-down styles that will be invaluable in the summer months. It looks very cool with chunky sandals, but the bias cut means it also lends itself to a more elevated look when styled with heeled sandals and a clutch bag.

Mes Demoiselles Soul Godet-Insert Crepe Midi Dress (£198)


So I tried this one on as a bit of a dare to myself to see how far I could push this whole maximalist thing. It's part Willy Wonka, part nurse's uniform—and when I saw the sherbert shades up close on the rail I was certain this would look way too eccentric. But on, it actually works when toned down with a classic basket bag and black sandals. It's also one of those dresses that also really pops in photographs.

Staud Millie Striped Cotton-Blend Poplin Shirtdress (£335)

Ah Molly Goddard! The London-based designer is the queen of maximalist dresses, as she plays with exaggerated silhouettes, tulle and vibrant colours. These are the definition of fantasy dresses, and so when assigned this theme I knew I had to try on at least one Molly dress. The pink is a striking bright salmon, and I loved the gathered detail on the neckline and skirt. Most Molly Goddard dresses will require a formal invitation, however the oversized shape means this is relaxed enough to work for a dinner or lunch. I'm in love.

Molly Goddard Raphaela Gathered Tiered Taffeta Midi Dress (£820)

I tried this dress on because Joy told me too, but I was certain it wouldn't work for me. Too much stripe, too much green, too much fabric. On it doesn't look quite as 'extra' as in the product shots, and again is something that can be calmed down with the right accessories and shoes. The oversized sleeves and smocked bodice also make this feel unique and not like every other floral dress on Instagram.

Ganni Smocked-Bodice Striped Cotton-Poplin Midi Dress (£245)

Now this I LOVED. I am not sure where I would actually wear this bright pink gown, given I don't own a yacht or frequent fabulous events, however if I took up the skirt length to the ankles it would make the perfect summer event dress. The fabric wasn't what I expected, as it's made of 100% recycled nylon and so has a parachute feel, which made it less formal than it might appear in the pictures.

Staud Millie Belted Maxi Shirt Dress (£290)

This was another of my favourites and felt so special. It's by Italian designer Marta Ferri who used to be a visual merchandiser at Prada before setting up her own brand. At almost £2,000 this is a very expensive summer dress, however the fit was just beautiful and divine quality fabric.

Marta Ferri Belted Check Linen Maxi Dress (£1950)

I couldn't take on the maximalist summer dress theme without trying on at least one Rixo dress—I love the bright orange colour of this dress and the mermaid print. The loose silhouette makes it feel quite casual, and I'd happily wear this for a Sunday afternoon picnic.

Rixo Pepper Mandarin Collar Midi Dress (£295)

The spaghetti straps and low V of the neckline made this feel quite revealing, and it'd be difficult to find a bra to wear with this (I took mine off for the photo). However this would make a gorgeous holiday dress, either worn over a bikini or for evenings by the beach.

Matteau Triangle Tiered Sundress (£375)

Now this was my favourite of them all. The colour didn't overpower and wash me out like I feared, and it managed to be both relaxed and fitted at the same time. I've been thinking of buying it ever since.

Solace London Mirabelle Puff Sleeve Pleated Maxi Dress (£420)

I am a big fan of Aje dresses so was very excited to try this one on. It felt like a ‘lot’ thanks to the huge full skirt and oversized puff sleeves, but if you have the confidence to wear something that makes a statement, this would be an amazing wedding guest dress.

Aje Mimosa Puff-Sleeve Linen-Blend Midi Dress (£520)

Next up, see our guide to the key trends for spring summer 2021.

This article originally appeared on Who What Wear

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