When it comes to a monochrome summer dress, which side do you err on? Are you in a wafty white dress, flouncing around the Ibiza old town, picking up fresh fruit from the market in your artisan basket bag, then stopping off at the beach bar for a jug of sangria and some old skool chillout tunes?
Or are you clad in a black cotton number, dark sunglasses firmly clamped on your face, getting annoyed with the heat of the city? Wondering why on earth people still eat at the Angus Steakhouse and how come air-con is still a distant dream on the Piccadilly line.
This is a terrible sweeping generalisation of the light and shade of summer dresses, because you are just as likely to be happy-go-lucky in a black ensemble as you are being a miserable bastard in your all-white attire. I love and wear both in equal measure. It’s just some days you feel like wearing black, and on others, white is alright.
We STILL haven’t booked a summer holiday. Covid has made me very lax in organising these things. BC, I would be booking holidays two years in advance, typing up an itinerary, booking restaurants, collating all passports in a plastic folder. Now I’ve developed a terrible laissez-faire attitude to going away. It’s knocking my Capricorn nature for six.
So, without further ado, let’s have a look at some black and white dress options for the summer, wherever you might be spending it…
WHITE SHIRT DRESS & TRAINERS
This dress is from Benetton. It’s been coming up a bit in recent blog posts, as their current collection has some real winners (see also last week’s Bermuda shorts). Benetton holds many fond memories for me. Back in the late 80s it was THE place to shop but it was a little above my usual price range. It was also so chic and European. All those coloured folded jumpers, the drawstring green plastic carrier bags, it just felt so cool for a girl from suburbia. I remember the day I finally got my braces taken off, my mum took me to Benetton to buy that white polka-dot shirt I had long coveted. It was a grand day indeed.
1. Benetton long cotton mandarin collar shirt dress
2. Aligne Feruza denim jacket (on sale)
3. Liberty 9ct gold Betty turquoise stone signet ring
4. Reebok Workout Plus vintage trainers
5. Kemi Telford deadstock nylon shopper bag
MY CURRENT FAVOURITE BLACK DRESS
I bought this COS dress a few weeks ago. Do NOT get your usual size as it comes up very small. It’s always a bit disheartening when your usual size is too tight, but in this case, it’s not you, it’s them. I went up to size 16 (usually a solid 12) and that size fits like a dream. Strange really, as COS usually comes up big. Maybe the fitting managers* had a off day with this one.
*Is there such a job as a fitting manager? Surely there must be a standard sizing chart that brands adhere to? Maybe there isn’t and that’s why high street shops are so wildly different. Don’t get me started on Zara. I rarely shop there anymore as I refuse to believe a 12 is an XL.
1. Loel & Co large gold plated anchor necklace
2. Coach Tabby black leather shoulder bag (use code KATE15 for 15% off)
3. Cos pleated cotton/modal midi dress
5. La Redoute metallic block heel sandals
WHITE DRESS & TAN SANDALS
White and tan together just feels so much like summer to me. Unfortunately, I don’t think anything I’m wearing above is still available, although maybe the Grenson sandals will come back in stock. Also, in retrospect maybe I should have ironed the dress, but still, I very much enjoyed this outfit. I’ve found some similar things below. And a nice jacket from Sainsburys! Yes, Sainsburys. I know they do a good line in nice and cheap sweets (I’m a big fan of the Fizzy Fangs and the Strawberry Laces), but turns out there are a few gems in the clothes department too.
1. By Iris Zoie Broderie Anglaise cotton midi dress
2. Shyla gold plated glass ball drop earrings
3. John Lewis leather and canvas cross body bag
4. Pikolinos Talavera leather sandals
5. Tu botanical leaf quilted jacket
SHORT BLACK DRESS & CARDI
This is the dress version of a great top I bought in ME+EM last summer. It was the perfect summer-weight top, made from cheesecloth. So called because its primary use is indeed for cheesemaking. Specifically to remove whey from cheese curds, fact fans. Also a very good easy-breezy summer clothes fabric. Sadly, I have somehow mislaid that great top. I have searched everywhere I keep my clothes: the wardrobe, chest of drawers, under the bed, in the bathroom cupboard, in my son’s bedroom. It’s gone. And they don’t make it anymore. Sad times. Might have to get this dress instead.
1. Kate Spade oversized red frame sunglasses
2. & Other Stories wool knit stripe cardigan
3. ME + EM Cheesecloth shirring detail swing dress
4. The Outnet Anya Hindmarch red leather eyes bag
5. Grenson Flora rubberised leather sandals
WHITE DRESS & DENIM JACKET
I think I mentioned River Island last week. Perhaps not a place us ladies of a certain age might usually head to for summer dresses. Yes, some of it can be a bit ‘All Bar Hun for some 2–4‑1 Cocky Ts with the girlies’, but look beyond the nylon and there are some real finds in there. This embroidered cotton summer dress being one of them. Wear with your classic western style denim jacket, because I know EVERYONE has one of those in their wardrobe.
1. River Island white embroidered smock midi dress
2. & Other Stories oversized geometric sunglasses
3. H&M oversized light wash denim jacket
4. Pom D’Api tan leather gladiator sandals
SLEEVELESS BLACK DRESS & STRAW HAT
Finally, the classic black sundress. Sleeveless and lightweight. Easy to throw on for any summer occasion. Don’t tell me you couldn’t wear it because you don’t like your arms. Does anyone really like their arms? Why is it frowned upon for ladies over 40 to show their upper arms? Or their thighs, for that matter? Who cares if there is a bit of extra flesh – when it’s hot, you do have the right to bare arms.
1. & Other Stories woven straw hat
2. Boden structured canvas tote bag
3. Mint Velvet tiered jersey midi dress
4. M&S Per Una cotton rich khaki shacket
5. Oliver Bonas leopard print fishermans sandals
Until next week, and I hope you’ve been more prepared with your summer travel plans then I have…