I know I keep on going on about this, but if you are going on a hot holiday this summer with any children under, say, 10 – you need a black tank dress.
(If you are one of those women who believes the world will implode if you wear a dress without sleeves, then I’m sorry and I will attempt cool-dresses-with-sleeves suggestions soon. )
I don’t mean wear a black tank dress all the time. Not as your best, best, best dress that you will scrabble to wear on the first night when you realise that you have accidentally booked yourself into somewhere really chic.
This will be your saviour dress. The one you roll up in your bag and change into at the airport after you land and realise that you have accidentally flown to a country where it is 38C at all times.
It will be the one you wear to the pool or the beach and it doesn’t matter if it gets covered in ice-cream and snot and suncream and god knows what else.
It will be the one that you will wear – along with a pair of stout tan sandals, new sunglasses and a sunhat – (I really feel like we’re all getting the hang of hats this year) – to the pharmacy in town when the toddler gets a mysterious bite/rash.
It will be the one at the end of the bed that you can pull on when the doorbell unexpectedly goes or you have to quickly rush outside with the kids because there is one of those fire-engine seaplanes zooming overhead, heading out to sea to scoop up loads of seawater.
It will be the one you look at at the end of the holiday and think to yourself “Why didn’t I bring two?”
Don’t forget your accessories!
Search and search for a good, light panama-style hat that suits you that you can fold or roll up and pack (you will never make it from the UK to your holiday destination with all your bags and the buggy and the hat). Most hats, even if not strictly packable can be sorted out after a rough ride in luggage with a sprinkle of water an a cool iron.
Wear your tank if you must with a long necklace or a collection of necklaces once there are no small children to yank on them and a smart pair of sandals when flip-flops are no longer required.
Here’s one from Toast
And from good old Hush
This might not work on everyone but I like the idea of black broderie anglais – from Next
Size up on this for that “all you can eat” feeling… from Gap
And H&M one – of course it does.
This one (size up for comfort):
A quick note, unrelated to black dresses: approach the vast number of “shirred” bandeau dresses around at the moment with caution as “shirred” is basically “smocking” and on the over-10s it can look terrible. The models wearing them look terrific because they are all very skinny and flat-chested – anyone over a B cup might want to take a view. I’m not saying no, I’m just saying, you know, not definitely yes.
Another note: I am coming across a lot of people singing the praises of these plain bandeau tops from Topshop – yes of course, not to be worn by anyone with a massive bust, but I am a good 34C or something and I can wear one.
NOT ON ITS OWN OBVIOUSLY but under a sheer shirt or a ratty band t-shirt that I have cut the sleeves off. I don’t know what it is about holidays, but they make me really really not want to wear a bra.
Bear in mind that the model in that linked pic is 5’9″ so the top looks like a belt on her – in fact the tops are quite long. I have one in white and when I wear it with a pair of high-waisted culottes the two edges of material meet perfectly neatly.
Thanks again Esther! Loving the look of the Hush dress. Ordered small and medium as not sure about sizing on this and like a looser fit. Free delivery and returns at the mo.,hooray! Used to have something similar from oasis that was brilliant but stretched beyond help after enormous baby. Also incredibly useful getting home post spray tan! X
Hush is incredibly generous with its sizing but yes report back. A loose fit is key. This is your saviour dress after all. And YES to the post spray tan thing! The other day I was seriously contemplating getting one of those black spray-tan jumpsuity things but this would do just as good a job xx
Ooh not seen the spray tan jumpsuity things but sound great! Can you recommend any fab tan sandals this year? Xx
Yes I can now hang on where did I see some. stay there
I recently bought the hush one, it’s perfect for a holiday. It’s a big fit so I sized down and it’s still lovely and loose. I feel very nice and chic in it. Tan sandals, big sunglasses and I’ll be spainish in all but nationality.
As an aside, I was mistaken for a local when in Mallorca last year, (by a British person so maybe doesn’t count), but, I felt really rather cosmopolitan for a moment – I’m from an ugly town in Wiltshire so cool is not the norm….
Gemma that is the ultimate compliment surely
I bought a black tank dress (from h&m – of course) after reading one of your amazing capsule wardrobe posts (can’t recall which on now) – it has already become my saviour. I went cheap and cheerful as wasn’t 100% sure (it’s a bit out of my normal comfort zone of t shirt plus jeans)
Oh wow – do I feel chic in it! I might invest in a nicer one now I’ve seen just how useful it is.
Wore it all bank holiday – perfect for warm days, when you have small people hanging off you, getting suncream, food and who knows what else all over you, dress with a khaki jacket (Esther would say denim but I just can’t yet!)
Get one people – it will solve wardrobe dilemmas!
No no! A khaki or cargo jacket is entirely capsule!! I bet you looked super. I am so pleased to have had my advice so totally vindicated x
Yes! I’m on hols with the fam in hot SE Europe. My black Hush dress, bought on Esther’s instructions last month, has been on high rotation for morning playground/ cafe/ sightseeing duty.
Tan sandals and Dinny Hall hoops, obvs.
Emily I’m drooling x
Quite like the look of the Next one, the broderie anglais lifts it up a notch, but it’s sixty-five bloody pounds. From Next. It’s from Next and it’s £65. I’m boggled. Next is so confusing to me, it’s either ratty and cheap as chips or okay and madly priced, and either way you shave it, it’s from Next. Might wait until the sales though.
Next is just fucking crap all round if you ask me, but I did really just like the look of this one. May well be godawful on
I Think I’m going to Buy It (well, as soon as I’ve been paid, tomorrow !) It’s like a more sensible version of one that was in the Hush catalogue – “Portobello” which is completely Sold Out, Already !?! So I will report back X
yes! please report back. Hush sells out very quickly but quite often re-stocks..
I bought the Next one in March when I was looking for something to take on holiday. It looked like a sack on me…but I’m short at 5’ 3’’ so maybe better on someone taller. It also was not worth £65. A very expensive sack. But interested to know if it suits others. I’m going in again for the Hush one.
Thanks for this, Liz. At 5’3″ yes you are probably technically Petit in high street clothing sizes and I bet a lot of things swamp you – especially this with its rather bell-shaped bottom. Get the smallest size possible in Hush as the sizing is very generous there
I endorse this message.
Bought a black loose jersey dress WITH POCKETS from Plumo following a capsule post last August. Not something I would have chosen myself.
Seriously, EVERY time I wear it, someone will say that I look glamorous. Without a string of beads it looks like a black tent. It’s all in the accessories. It’s also amazingly comfortable, and versatile etc.
Now casting around for a navy version so that I can wear what is essentially the same outfit more often.
Thank you Esther. 🙂
No Alison thank YOU xx
I bought a bloody khaki one last week! Now contemplating black too… this may not be the point of capsule…
Well it’s not far off.. the idea is to get the black one FIRST and then the khaki one later… but who cares
I’m definitely going to get one for our trip to Japan in late July, it’s going to be hot and humid. My sister lives there and says people tend to dress more smartly than here, any other ideas for me? I can do winter smart but I’m summer it tends to go to pot…
Jo if your sister lives there she is really your go-to for what people wear… Japan is a mystery to me I’m afraid
Jo, I lived in Japan for a few years and I wore much the same clothes as I now wear living in London, though I suppose my style tends towards “smart”. It will be quite appallingly hot and humid in July so sleeveless is a good idea (unless you have any tattoos on your arms) and cotton/linen fabrics too. I favour midi dresses and skirts. And you will want hankies/hand towels to dab your face with (everyone has one) plus a hand fan – you can buy pretty ones in Tokyu Hands etc. I think it might be the rainy season in July so you will want to take account of that when packing footwear… Have a great time, it really is the most wonderful country.
Jo midi length skirts and culottes work in Japan and are nice and cool. Trust the capsule and you can’t go wrong. A blazer is useful if you’re going to be in any kind of professional environment.
Take a face flannel as a hand towel to carry in your handbag (the Japanese carry their own hand towels and you’ll spend the whole time drying your hands on your skirt if you don’t), turn up early for everything and go to Tokyu Hands and Loft to buy all the random beautiful things you never knew you wanted! And take a spare bag to pack all your shopping… Japan is amazing x
Charlotte! Thank you for this invaluable advice. I want to go to Japan now
This is great, thanks so much Charlotte x
GAP has 35% off ending today – makes that dress 25 quid. Buy two to check sizing and you qualify for free delivery, free returns by post. Please take care when alighting from the train and take all personal belongings with you.
This Gap dress is rather good – the material is quite clingy but if you size up it skims nicely and doesn’t lose overall shape. It has a slit at the back that is quite low and depending on height may show your bra strap at certain angles if that’s the kind of thing that bothers you.
I’ve been waiting for the Boden version of this that I ordered for WEEKS. I don’t want to buy another one as it will surely immediately arrive, but I have missed a ton of opportunities to wear it already. Damn the back-order!
Hi Esther, I happened upon this post after following you on Instagram for a while and ended up bingeing your other articles and especially those on the capsule wardrobe and basically it’s been a revelation! I’m 32 and I have 2 kids under 5 and I’ve felt recently that I’ve lost sight of my style- no time to shop and minimal ££ to spend (bloody kids!) means I grab whatever will do in the 25 mins I get in town and then get something cheap and “fashionable” which I think will perk me up and make me feel less of a frump! As a result I have a bunch of clothes that I don’t love, aren’t really my style, and don’t go together. So, I am going holiday shopping tomorrow and will be buying a white t-shirt, a black dress, some tan sandals and a bunch of jewellery and calling it a win (or at least a good start!). Thank you xxx
Hannah! welcome. This is the perfect diagnosis of how one slides into the trap of having a wardrobe that doesn’t quite work. I’m so pleased that you’ve found this useful – genuinely a bunch of plain t-shirts, some comfy slacks, a black dress and plain gold jewellery for the evening and you can’t fail. xxx
Hi Esther and fellow Spikers
Continuing the holiday vibe…
Just seen and ordered M&S holiday beauty box £15 with £40 spend. It’s got fab stuff in it (apparently worth £130) including the wonderful Colour Wow Dreamcoat, Philip Kingsley elasticiser, REN shower gel, gorg Leighton Denny nail polish to go with the black tank dress.
Blah blah… but well worth a look
Over and out and have a lovely weekend y’all xxx
Just received the Next dress. Yes £65 but it’s weighty and looks/ feels worth it. Makes my arms look good too – covers the soft squashy bit by my armpits!
Louisa this is great news! thank you very much for taking the time to report back x
Camilla Bell says
No, I went to Japan last summer and it was HOT! I wore a lot of maxi dresses and shorts with smartish tops. I found that people there dress ‘neatly’ rather than smartly but I suppose it depends on where you are (I went to Tokyo, Hakone and Kyoto). I felt like wearing little trainers like this:
made me more ‘neat’. But to be honest I’m not sure what I’m basing that on. Have a great time!
Ps. Buy an umbrella as soon as you get there for the rain. They sell a lot of SPF umbrellas so you could kill two birds with one stone.
You briefly linked to a beautiful black tank dress with lace – I think on Insta stories. From memory, it was a French brand (or maybe I am just remembering that because it was fancy?). Anyway, I have fallen in love with it but can’t remember the darn link. Help much appreciated.
Hi Ambs – it’s the French brand Eponym Creations – I’ll put a proper link up later x