You thought I’d forgotten! I have not. You are always on my mind and you have been asking for this, I know. I was just trying to get together what I actually thought about what we are all going to wear and then trying to track down suitable examples.
Here we go.
Every day wear if you’re on the back foot, otherwise compromised or just can’t be bothered.
I’ve got good news! You can slop about all summer in a pair of denim shorts, espadrilles and a t-shirt or shirt and feel perfectly fashionable.
I cannot stress enough the importance of a linen shirt this summer. Wear oversized and loose with crappy old denim shorts, espadrilles and a panama hat for fuck-you-I’m-tired chic. Wear your real/fake Gucci belt as a sort of visual gag.
Shirts: I have this one from Rails , which I have banged on about before. It is very expensive but it is hands down the best and most useful, loved thing that I own. Dupes are available from Gap and Uniqlo. Not quite as soft but also not quite as expensive.
If things are really bad e.g. you have very small children, to update yourself fast without having to set foot in a changing room, get a pair of round sunglasses, a hat, (or Anthropologie has some great ones for less) a tie-dye t-shirt and a few jaunty scarves for round your straw bag handle, in your hair, round your neck – whatever.
Boyfriend jeans are still fine. Good luck, comrade.
Your 1 dress
I still maintain that the only dress you actually need in the summer – however many children you have, whatever life stage you are, is something loose and black. That’s the only one you need for every day wear when it is stinking hot. It might not be the only one you want but it’s the one you need. Are you with me?
There are a billion great examples around at the moment.
This one from Hush, this one from Stories – and Zara always have 50,000.
If you have half a mind to get your legs out this summer, (I definitely do. I am not doing a punishing hour of barre a week for nothing), then this little black mini dress from H&M is delightful. It’s one of those dresses that you can treat like absolute shit, spill things down, sweat in, chuck on the floor then put it back on and it looks fine.
If you want to push the boat out, this black shirt dress from Maison Maillot is the dream.
I am also a huge fan of this by Me + Em if you don’t mind getting your shoulders out. Like everything in the Me + Em store, this will be cut beautifully and not crease and basically last forever.
Don’t for god’s sake make life hard for yourself by getting anything with spaghetti strips or that requires complicated underwear.
We are blessed at the moment with a modesty movement and there are many voluminous dress options that make it easy to wear a sturdy bra and those pants.
Take advantage of it before the inevitable stripper-chic renaissance, like something foreseen in the book of Revelation.
The one thing you Must. Not. Forget with a black dress is your accessories, as the dress cannot really be left to speak for itself.
Belts, that hat I mentioned, those scarves I mentioned, earrings, nail varnish… more is more. Gold and brown I find work best. And don’t be shy with the fake tan. As you know I am 90% fake tan and the other 10% sheer panic. At the moment I am using Tan Luxe and find it superb.
Your Other Dress
I am a sucker for a lampshade dress at the moment – you know what I mean? Just a circle of material, really. H&M are doing some amazing ones at the moment. I’ve got two. Size well down. I take an XS. My friend Sue calls them “all-you-can-eat dresses”. Amen!
Your Other Dress could also be a prairie-style job. I like a new brand called Pink City Prints. They come up very big so size down. I have also suddenly fallen in love with this big check dress from Asos.
Your long skirt
You are possibly already doing this look – a long skirt, a shortish t-shirt and a pair of trainers. Leather or denim jacket, weather permitting.
Everyone is wild for Vejas at the moment and I do like the look of them, but I found them clumpy and strange when I tried a pair on and these days I am simply wedded to my Allbirds.
You all thought that my Allbirds looked orthopaedic but I have not taken them off for six months and have put them through the wash about 12 times and they have come up lovely.
Anyway if you’re not doing a long skirt and think that might be a good idea there are tons around. Pink City Prints, (them again – not being paid!), does one that goes right down to the floor if a midi-length is not for you. I rather fancy this one as a slightly more subtle take on the ubiquitous leopard-print skirt.
Your Other Trousers
I only mean trousers that are not jeans. Perhaps something like this from Hush? Or these wide-leg chinos from Jigsaw via JLP? Or, look, these are cute. If you’ve got culottes or chinos from my previous instructions, they’re good to go for another summer. Maybe treat yourself to a new white t-shirt to go with it.
And of course one last thing… do not forget your gold hoops! It’s got to be Tilly Sveaas. Love that girl.
Thank you this was nice to get. I have 2 black dresses and I wear them a lot but if I’m honest one is an eat-any-more-and-people-will-say-aww-and-ask-if-they-can-touch-my-bump dress, and the other is off the shoulder so I only wear it on the beach when complicated underwear is not required. So what you’re saying is I need to buy another dress? That’s what you’re telling me. You said it, I’m just going along with it. Fine! Fine. I will. I also need a new hat as my last straw affair looks like a Swiss cheese.
J van Schie says
Esther, what about a post of denim shorts? I really struggle to find a flattering pair that are long enough to suit my stumpy legs but short enough to still be cute.
Ah yes, denim shorts are tricky. I’m afraid the only answer is just to try on as many pairs as you can IRL x
My Rails shirt has just arrived. I’m size 12 and 34E went with the large and it does up with no gaping! Looks lovely open. If you have never bought from Trilogy before ( living in the sticks I had not) and sign up to the news letter they send a 15% discount code.
Thanks so much!
Thank you!!!! Always resonate with you and hear loud and clear your comments on Veja. Please can you help with shoes?! not trainers and not too beach sandal and open toe..I know you love an espadrille….but anything else out there? Thinking footwear for a long dress / skirt and / or jeans / trousers…that I could wear smart casual, freelance work or being a mummy to the babes..
A big thank you x
YES IT’S CALLED AN ESPADRILLE. Have a look at Drilles – https://drilles.com/products/la-latte
or, now I’m thinking about it – clogs https://www.lottafromstockholm.co.uk/clogs/lotta-from-stockholm/low-peep-toe-natural-spruzzato.html
I can’t bare my toes Gina. If it helps I find GAP do great toe-covered, reasonably priced leather options for summer. (I can only wear leather thanks to my huge, toe-y feet.) I actually live in their leather espadrilles but there are lots of other choices.
Esther, I bought my first ever black summer dress based on your advice and haven’t worn anything else ever since. It even has a built in bra! Thank you so much.
Summer is coming! But so is (and I HATE this description) chub rub. I love wearing dresses but my thighs touch – what do we do about that? Cycling shorts?? Surely not! Help!!
Bodyglide. Amazing stuff
Triple B Cream. Get it on Amazon. Life changing!
Emily! I can’t find it – can you post a link?
Thank you!! Seriously, I feel like I have been waiting since about 2017 for you to write another one of these posts. NOT a complaint by the way. Please take it as a compliment, demonstrating how brilliantly useful these posts are to people like me (eg who still have kids not yet old enough to be in full time education, but don’t particularly want (any more) to look like we’ve just crawled out of a ditch). Can I ask a barre-related question? I get that it is pretty punishing, but do you get seriously sweaty as per treadmill in the gym? Or is it slightly less antisocial than that, perspiration-wise? 😐🤣👍💕
You do sweat and it raises your heartbeat but no, we are not talking spin cardio-levels of sweating. I wouldn’t say that barre is particularly good for weight-loss but it IS good for really tightening and toning everything up. It is a motherfucker.
Fantastic, that’s what I want really. Have given up thinking that exercise will cause weight loss (probably because you get more hungry?) so toning seems like the way to go. Thanks, going to look into it x
Peabody Bites says
If you don’t live near somewhere that does Barre classes (I do, but I also have small children so limited flexibility to get to class) the Barrecore online workouts are excellent – clearly narrated, achievable and difficult enough that you don’t get distracted). It’s 25/month and I am more toned than I’ve ever been doing 2 30-40 minute classes a week. Plus you can die in private – they are exhausting.
Beatrice Peach says
You nailed it again. Thank you!! xxx
But, Esther, help! What to do if you’re a bit too fat for shorts? Can’t do a dress as still breastfeeding, jeans too hot for hot days, and trousers a bit too ‘done’ to match with general scruffyness (not cool scruffyness, the greasy, spotty, frizzy variety). I need the denim shorts look without the shorts…
Denim skirt, or is that too passe now?
You need to search long and hard for a pair of culottes that suit you… my advice if you’re supine under a baby is just to go mad and order loads and then try them all on in the comfort of your home and take the baby out for a trip to the post office to return the ones you don’t want x
I used to wear wrap front and shirt dresses when I was feeding a baby in the summer, with a thin camisole underneath I did the pull one up and one down/aside the same as with double tops but cooler, so don’t rule them out if you see one you like that might work.
I’m 5 ft 2, can I wear a long skirt? I wouldn’t have thought so. Also I think midi dresses would be too long on me. Can anyone recommend a black dress for a petite lady?
If you’re a non-standard size in any way, I would always recommend getting a dress that suits you for the most part how you like and then seeking out a dressmaker who can fit it to you exactly. I quite often get something I like that doesn’t quite fit and do this, it shouldn’t cost more than £20 or so to get it adjusted
Im obsessed with the allbirds since you first mentioned them, for a nearly fifty year old I still love my trainers and think they look fab. Ive been saving myself for a pair as I have too many trainers (trying and failing at not being wasteful) but I think they are the FUTURE not orthopaedic at all (so cool and eco friendly I now vote GREEN) thanks so much for the recommendation Im going to by some very soon. I think we should all buy shares in these eco trainers they are great or have I fallen for the marketing? This is possible even for an old cynic like me X
Ha ha! Well, listen… yes certainly there is marketing in everything and with Allbirds it is pretty seductive but honestly I have had these trainers for six or seven months and they are the ones I reach for every time. No, you can’t tramp through muddy/very wet ground in them and no they’re no good for intense exercise – but for absolutely everything else, they’re a dream. Totally worth it.
buy not by
I ignored online reviews about how uncomfortable Vejas are and bought them anyway. They are now currently listed on eBay. Unless you have a whole summer to spare to break them in then avoid. I was sort of saving them for ‘best’ as I didn’t want to trash them down at the sandpit with my 2.5 yr old so there was no chance of ‘breaking them in’ really. I just assumed for that price they would be comfortable after a wear or two (or even straight away!). I should have gone with the orthopaedic ones…
Aaarrrrgggghhhhh the H&M black mini dress is out of stock 🙁
There is a dress on H&M very much like the Hush one linked to, called jersey wrap (the skirt is the wrap bit)
May I ask the question about black absorbing the heat? Is it just a myth or is it cooler to wear a lighter colour? Your tips are always welcome and even if some are not for me personally (you can’t cater for everybody) they can be adapted.
What do you recommend to keep warm, either over the black dress or with shorts? Are denim jackets still OK? Are there any other jackets or tops you recommend with a black dress? Can I wear a denim jacket with shorts or is that… DOUBLE DENIM? My Mum definitely wore double denim with Le Specs in the 80s so maybe it’s OK? Thought I was all set with my black dress and gold hoops but just saw the forecast and … HELP!
yes! they are very okay. I have seen some people wearing sort of boxy denim jackets which look very new and modern and cool but cannot find a good example in the shops…
Phew. Then I’m sorted. Plus the rain has stopped. Thank you!
YES to shirts and denim shorts all summer long. John Lewis are discounting this Toast shirt to £90 and it’s v soft and would look amazing with gold pendants, sleeves rolled up. https://www.toa.st/uk/product/womens+shirts/c7lbr/mini+dogtooth+soft+cotton+shirt.htm?clr=C7LBR_Navy_sw
As I write this the rain is hammering down outside…..
where is my heatwave, Janie. WHERE?
Huge thanks Esther – I read this and, having toyed with buying some Allbirds, took the plunge. I bought the Tree Runners with white soles – one pair in olive and one pair in navy blue. They look great and are as comfy as you said. Thank you !
enjoy! I feel the same way about mine that I do about, say, my bed. or a cup of tea. EXACT SAME FEELING