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I spent it all on clothes by the looks of things...

The Big Autumn Dress Bonanza

I was inspired to do this post by my visit to the Daily Dress Edit pop-up shop last week. I love dresses but I have really got out of the habit of wearing them. Maybe it’s a lifestyle change. I have been spending more time at home (I mean, haven’t we all) but things are changing and so has my attitude to wearing lovely things just for the hell of it. The day I went into town wearing a dress last week (last year’s Tallulah & Hope blue cord one below, in case you wondered), I was stopped in the street twice by total strangers who wanted to say how much they loved the dress. That kind of thing will really boost your mood and you don’t often get that wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, do you?

So what’s the moral of the story? It’s got to be ‘don’t save things for best’. I’m not advocating you wear a ballgown to Lidl, but why not wear a dress every so often? It doesn’t have to be a big frou-frou number, but a ruffle or a puff never hurt anyone. So what if you’re the most overdressed person in the room? If you feel good in it, wear it. There are so many wonderful frocks around right now. I really wanted to showcase some of the amazing small brands out there – hopefully some wonderful ones you’ve not heard of before – but I know they are often above a lot of people’s budgets, so I’ve done high street options for all these styles. Enjoy…


Seraphina Carey smocked dress

I’m not sure what it is that draws me towards ditsy-print floral dresses. I’ve never been particularly girly in any way but I do love a good floral dress. I will always butch them up though, with some chunky boots. If ever I were to wear heels again it would probably be for the opposite reason, to make jeans look a bit more glam. But that ship has pretty much sailed. I just can’t be doing with anything that makes me uncomfortable, so no painful heels, nothing that is too tight on the waist, nothing that pulls in all the wrong places. But show me a big, flouncy, floral dress and my heart skips a beat. This one from Seraphina is made from supersoft baby needlecord, so it had me at hello. I promised to add some options for my ladies of a smaller stature, so check out this cute short number from Iris too.

1. Seraphina blue floral corduroy Flouce dress 
2. Isabel Marant Etoile houndstooth jacket 
3. By Iris short floral Morgan dress 
4. Dune Provenses ecru leather Chelsea boots 


The Great British high street is a virtual goldmine right now for autumnal floral dresses. I bought this one from Per Una last week. It’s a keeper. Comes with a cheap fabric belt though. I’d advise ditching that tout suite and replacing with your own belt if you are belt-inclined. Also check out Mango and Oliver Bonas for some more great options at decent prices. 

1. Per Una ditsy print floral ruffle midaxi dress 
2. Oliver Bonas floral print tiered maxi dress 
3. Ted Baker suede pointed ankle boots 
4. Hush Fairford leather ankle boots 


Faith Rowan Leeves winter Frankie dress in gingham

I bought the short-sleeved version of Faith Rowan Leeves’ ‘Frankie’ dress earlier this year. It was my most worn dress over the summer. Although that’s not saying much, as we all know there weren’t many summer dress days this year, but it did get a few airings and I love it. Now she’s made a winter version with long sleeves and less puff on the shoulders so you can wear a cardi or a jumper over the top. I love it when designers really think about how we wear things. Another of my favourite small brand designers, Justine Tabak has a fantastic range of new season dresses. This tartan Harrogate dress is a perfect all-day dress, and don’t get me started on her corduroy range…

1. Faith Rowan Leeves long sleeve Frankie dress 
2. Justine Tabak tartan Harrogate dress 
3. Converse Allstar pc boot trainers 
4. Esska Connie navy leather boots 


I do like it when high street shops identify what the customers actually want and repeat those designs. One case in point is Monsoon with their ‘Molly’ tartan dress. This is an autumnal update on the summer ‘Dolly’ dress that was almost universally flattering. Another is Kin at John Lewis with their remake of their classic buffet-style dress, this time in a green check.

1. Kin checked tiered tencel dress 
2. Monsoon Molly navy checked dress 
3. Office Amuse contrast sole Chelsea boots 
4. Shoe Biz Copenhagen leather ankle boots 


Justine Tabak ‘Saltaire’ corduroy dress

Praise be for corduroy dress season! Get it out of your head that it’s a stiff, thick, uncomfortable fabric. It can be, I grant you, but the dresses I’ve seen recently have all been made in a supersoft needlecord, almost velvet-like in texture. They will not bulk you up, but will keep you warm in months to come. Go full-on Victoriana in this deep mulberry number from Damselfly, or keep it more flowing in this rich emerald-green beauty from Beulah. I tried this one on at the Daily Dress Edit pop up. I didn’t buy at the time, but I got so many great responses to it, I have since ordered it and I love it so. 

1. Damselfly Constance mulberry needlecord maxi dress 
2. Mulberry small Sadie satchel 
3. Beulah Indira green corduroy dress 
4. Air & Grace Riley black leather boots 


If the designer numbers are above your price range, don’t fear, the high street has some similar options for you in the same softer corduroy. Warehouse launched a great range of dresses (although they seem to sell out quite quickly) and bravo once again to Kin at John Lewis for this perfect green shirt dress.

1. Kin green corduroy tiered dress 
2. Mango buckle suede and leather bag
3. Warehouse corduroy tiered dress 
4. & Other Stories lace up leather boots 


Ok, ok, I know we are maybe a month too early for velvet. But I just couldn’t hold back from showing you these two sumptuous velvet dresses now. I mean, just look at them. Makes you want to book a weekend away at an 18th-century hotel in the countryside and sip sweet sherry by the fireside late into the night. Or, at the very least, get out your National Trust card and visit your local stately home and pretend you have the money for a mini-break, when in fact you’ve spent it all on a posh frock that you can’t actually afford to wear anywhere… or is that just me?

1. Kirstie Le Marque diamond chunky lock necklace 
2. Seraphina Willow sapphire blue velvet dress 
3. Tallulah & Hope velvet River dress 
4. Boden twist front suede platform sandals 

I hope this has inspired you to get wearing those dresses again. It has for me. Remember: don’t always save things for best.

Next week I’m going to attempt the 15-piece fall wardrobe for you.

K x

Also note for today Sunday 10th October. I’m taking part in the EarlyBird sale raising money for Smart Works. I’ve been invited to donate 10 pieces of clothing alongside some other amazing women. Head over to their site to see the range of clothes on offer. 100% of the money from everything you buy will be donated directly to Smart Works.

Smart Works help unemployed women regain the confidence they need to succeed at interview, get the job and transform their lives. Half of Smart Works’ clients are from an ethnic minority, long-term unemployed and have been unsuccessful with a large number of job applications. As well as providing complete outfits of high-quality clothes for job interviews, beneficiaries also have access to one-to-one interview training and the opportunity to join Smart Works Network, meeting every month to further their professional and personal development.

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