All the autumn dresses. We are into part three of the ‘things you asked me to feature’ trilogy. I love boots and I also love coats, but the extra love I have for a really good autumnal dress runs deep. I mean I’m a general dress fan at all times of the year, but when the nights draw in and the temperature falls down then the REALLY good dresses come out. Also, it helps that my two favourite dress materials are corduroy and velvet. And at this time of year the dresses tend to be less fitted and more flowing, which neatly coincides with roast potato and red wine season.
My natural fashion habitat is very much more winter than summer. In the summer there’s just so much upkeep – shaving, tanning, waxing, to name but three. In the winter you can just let yourself go a bit. For example, I only tan my ankles, and they are generally the only bit of flesh I have on show past 1st October.
At this point I should introduce those who are new to the group to the joys of ‘secret leggings’ (if you’ve been around for a while you can skip to the clothes section now). ‘Secret leggings’ are just a little trick I discovered some years ago whereby instead of tights, which can be a pain, you just wear short leggings under your dresses. This gives you some warmth, but also gives the illusion you are bare-legged, so it’s a win-win situation in my book.
I just buy cheap black leggings from Primark and cut them to the desired length so they won’t show under my dresses. Obviously this will only work if you favour midi or maxi dresses; if you’re going ‘short short’, you may have to stick to your 100 deniers (more on those later). Surprisingly, the cheap leggings don’t unravel or fray in the wash even when they’ve been roughly cut with the kitchen scissors and, actually, that one £4 pair I bought from Primark are now in their fourth year of use.
Regular readers can come back in the room now. Let’s get on with looking at the dresses…
SMALL BRAND DRESSES
We shall start with some of my favourite small brands. Again, regular readers will no doubt be aware of some, if not all, of these as I do like to support them when I can. All of the brands featured are owned and run by women. Many of them are owned and run by the actual designers, so you know when you buy from these labels that your hard-earned money (and I know a lot of these are NOT cheap) is going direct to the people that come up with the styles, run the Instagram, the website, the shop and, in some cases, even lovingly and personally pack the dresses to send to you.
Now, I know some of the smaller brands are not within everyone’s price range, so here are some of my favourite high street dresses too.
I don’t even know what it is about this fabric that I love so much. I know some people cannot abide it, but for me it’s the BEST thing about winter dresses. Maybe it’s the feeling of warmth, and it’s not man-made. Maybe I like to feel a kinship with the Brontë sisters. I must say, my overall winter dress look is very much one of the ‘Victorian lady’ variety.
If gingham is the essential summer check then some kind of play on tartan is its winter equivalent. Although, unlike kilts, it’s probably advisable to wear something underneath. I recall finding out, to my peril, that Scotsmen really DON’T wear anything under their kilts when we went to a wedding and the Scots father of the groom was busting one too many complicated dance moves at the reception. It was frank and beans all over the shop!
My ladies of a shorter stature are often complaining I feature too many long dresses. I would point out that it’s easier to take something up then add to it, but I admit I have neglected those of a shorter stature, so this section is just for you. I don’t know where to get shorter length, knee-high boots though: a friend asked me about that this week. If anyone knows, please feel free to share with the group.
Got to love a cosy sweater dress for the winter. They are definitely a thing again this season – the shops seem to be full of them in all shapes, sizes and lengths. You might need your tights for this one. Amazon now sell my favourite Falke tights at a better price than most places. I like their 100 denier matt ones for everyday and the soft merino ones for when it gets chillier.
Ideally, darker winter florals here with some kind of detail. Think more William Morris than Margo Leadbetter. Although, to be fair, I think that 70s housewife look is definitely making a comeback. And while we’re talking about 70s housewives, may I respectfully recommend the ‘Best Roast Potato Pan Ever’. My friend Arlene told me I MUST buy this immediately and so I did. Never have my roasties been so good. The crisp, the non-stick, the general potato-based joy! We’re going on holiday this week and I’m taking it with me.
Finally, a little bit of velvet. Yes, I admit I may be a little early on this but, for me, velvet is for life and not just for Christmas. An evening out any time after 31st October (because then it’s officially ‘festive’ season in my book) should always be an excuse to wear a gorgeous velvet dress.
I think next week we will have a look at some cosy outfits. Chunky knits, a bit of cashmere and yes, Uggs. They are officially back.