It does feel frivolous and a bit silly to be writing about spring dresses when there is a terrible war raging in Europe, but I tried to keep a sense of normality here throughout the pandemic, so it feels only right to attempt to do the same now and carry on providing a weekly escape from all the serious shit happening at the moment. We all need some distraction from the 24-hour rolling news. I know I have a real tendency to keep refreshing the BBC News website and that’s not healthy for the mind sometimes.
I find walking outside helps a lot, and watching rich American women shout at each other for an hour also weirdly reduces my anxiety. The Real Housewives of anywhere* are my favourites, but I’ll also stray into Summer House, Vanderpump Rules and Below Deck in between seasons. I know a lot of you come here for your distraction from news, kids and general life so I’m making a decisive effort to keep it upbeat, and we all like to look at nice dresses, don’t we? I’m going to show you some of my favourite small brands, but I know they tend to be more expensive than the high street so, as ever, we shall balance it out with some more purse-friendly options.
Talking of ‘purses’, I am raffling two of my own in aid of the British Red Cross. You can enter HERE. Please do leave a contact email in the comment section so I know how to contact the winners.
*Salt Lake City and Beverly Hills are obviously the best. Don’t get me started on how bad New York was last season…
SMALL BRAND DRESSES 1
My favourite dresses, and the ones I wear from year to year, are almost ALL from small independent brands. Some are literally one-woman outlets who design the dresses and have them made to order. You know when you buy from these brands that all the money is going direct to the person you buy from and I love that. Faith-Rowan Leeves (above, wearing her excellent long-sleeve ‘Frankie’ dress) is a case in point. She uses deadstock fabric to make small quantities, but can also make to order if you want a longer hem or even if you want to supply your own fabric.
SMALL BRANDS 2
You have to be so quick if you want a Johanna Sands dress. (Above, modelling one of her own designs. I mean, she’s the best advert for her own designs, is she not?) I had to put an alert on her Instagram page so I’d be notified the moment she posted about a new batch of dresses as they sell out so fast. I now own two and I know I will wear them for years to come as they are so classic and beautifully made. The Well Worn (below) is another designer who uses deadstock and recycled fabric to make very small quantities. The denim dress I have is numbered 1 of 7 made – that’s practically couture!
3. Pink City Prints shirred bodice dress (new collection launches tomorrow)
When I say ‘check’ what I really mean is ‘gingham’. Like navy jumpers, jeans and trainers, I have a real soft spot for gingham. For me it’s the spring/summer equivalent of corduroy in the winter: can’t get enough of it. Although that mainly applies to dresses, as I’ve not yet felt the need for a pair of gingham trousers, but never say never…
Say what you like, but black will always be the new black. It doesn’t have to be boring – think of it as eternally chic instead. If you are concerned about looking too bleak in black, try adding some colour to your accessories. I recently discovered another female-owned brand in the shape of Apatchy London. I have one of their personalised wash bags (of course I do, it’s personalised), but they now also make a great range of leather handbags in a wealth of colours.
This section is literally only here because one person once said I looked good in green. A compliment can go a very long way. Never forget that. If you like something about a person, tell them. If you don’t like something, maybe keep your mouth shut.
Well, more ‘chambray’ if I’m honest as a stiff denim dress isn’t really anyone’s friend. You are better off with something a little softer. I really love this tulip collar one from Rixo, and the frills on the Warehouse frock call to me. I can’t resist a bit of shoulder frill.
Finally, florals for spring. Yes, yes, groundbreaking, but there’s always a call for something flowery when the weather gets warmer. If you are concerned that wearing a floral dress will make you look like your granny, then you should know by now that the easiest way to avoid this is to butch it up with a leather jacket and a pair of Chelsea boots. I should note at this point that neither of my grannies really went in for floral dresses. One, I recall, wore mainly brown clothes, while the other favoured a good pair of bright red slacks and pink lipstick with matching nail polish. Even into her late 80s. Proving that you are never too old to care about what you wear.
Next week I think I’m going to keep it simple with just 6 Spring outfits. Do let me know if there is anything specific you’d like me to include.