summer days: the shift

Sofia+Coppola+Sofia+Coppola+Thomas+Mars+West+LF0ri6W6GUIl

Picture: Zimbio

As an ambivalent dress wearer, I was in two minds about this, but the demands of hot weather prevailed, and I have to admit that when it gets truly hot and the humidity just settles like a film on you, a lightweight cotton dress is the most wearable option. Something in the right cut can make it appropriate for professional settings and if you work in an office, a jacket can easily make a dress like this look smart.

The trick is finding something in a sturdy cotton or linen that doesn't need a lining to look decent, but is also breathable, with the perfect mix of structure and room to breathe and move. I have a navy shift similar in cut to Sofia Coppola's dress above and it's a total life saver. I love how easy and pulled together she looks in that dress. And it's perfect for maternity and regular wear - versatile!

Also important is finding something that isn't too short. I think dresses go into "beachy" territory when they're cotton AND too short. Or too floaty and "boho". Something knee-length and in a clean elegant cut makes a lightweight cotton or linen dress look more sophisticated. I don't like jersey dresses either - so uncomfortable clingy in the heat, and they just look limp and sloppy.

Finally, I expect all my summer dresses to be machine-washable. It's one season where you're going to perspire and get sticky and dry-cleaning something you want to wear often is ridiculous.

I did a bit of lazy shopping and rounded up some dresses on Net-a-Porter that fit this criteria pretty well. In fact, I am extremely in love with that particular A.P.C. dress...except that it's already similar to my own. (I cheated a bit with the Reed Krakoff as it is lined, but the shape is perfect.)

dresses
From left: A.P.C., Levi's Made and Crafted, J.Crew, Reed Krakoff, 3.1 Phillip Lim

A dress is the easiest way to minimise the number of items you have to put on in the heat, and a perfect sophisticated summer dress will let you keep it easy in flip-flops and flat sandals, but still look polished when you swap them for beautiful flats or heels, and whatever jewellery you like.

It's almost worth the heat.

Pictures from zimbio and net-a-porter

Comments

G said…
Lovely choices — I especially like that Reed Krakoff one. The utilitarian styling of it is fantastic.
Amanda said…
Yes! Dresses are particularly easy when it's too hot to wear jeans or pants. Also, they are often more informal than shorts, I always feel more comfortable going into restaurants with a dress than shorts.
S said…
Excellent points you make about summer dresses. I think all your choices here so easily dress up or down ... it's just that little bit of structure, through a belt or a collar, that keeps them out of beach territory. That APC dress may be the dress to break my dress shopping ban ... their dresses in the past have been so girly, but this one is just sophisticated enough yet perfectly relaxed. Hmmm.....
Alex said…
I like the APC and Reed Krakoff ones as well. The navy colour of the APC one might fade nicely and not show little spots of dirt...there is an APC top on net a porter that is in the same shade of blue as sofia's dress in that picture, pity they didn't do a dress version
Joy said…
Great versatile choices. I need to do some summer clothes shopping/
lin said…
G: Thanks, I love that shade of grey. It's more corporate than the rest but it's not boring.

Amanda: Agree...I tend to think of dresses as a more formal thing but they do work well on casual occasions too.

S: Thanks! I love the cut of that dress...but like you, I know I should stop buying dresses at least for a while because I get so little wear out of them except on the hottest days, and for dressy occasions.

Alex: I definitely like wearability of the APC one...it's not something you worry about getting scruffy and it looks like it will age well. I love the J Crew one as well actually, it looks better worn on the model than on its own.

Joy: Thanks!
son said…
nice, i love wearing dressess and particularly this style of simple but functional "throw and go". uniqlo also did some smart & simple linen dresses in the style of sc, which they hopefully bring back this summer.
Fashion Tidbits said…
Ooooh can't wait to look for some shift dresses next time i'm in zara or mango. Do you shop at those sort of places, was just wondering?
Ammu said…
I have a see by Chloe dress I wear all the time - loose, a little short, in a beautiful papaya colour. And if I need to look more pulled-together, then a cotton lilac Hugo Boss shirtdress works beautifully. All I need to do then is add a flat or a heel, and maybe a piece of jewelry and I am done. Dresses are wonderful.
If Jane said…
yes yes...
miss sophie said…
excellent post. i feel the same as you on the topic of dresses. i just never feel completely comfortably myself in them, which has nothing to do with the actual comfort of the dress. my inner tomboy speaking, i suppose!

that photo of SC is also one of my inspirations, though. in NYC when it's summer you see all sorts of stylish women wafting around in those airy APC-ish dresses. i might give it another shot this season...
lin said…
son: Interesting, will definitely keep an eye out at Uniqlo. I like throw and go too, preferably if they don't need too much ironing.

Fashion Tidbits: Yes I do...with my budget, I have to! I like Zara, but I realised I haven't bought any clothes in a while, my last few purchases have been shoes. I think the prices got a bit steep and the quality declined a little so it's more effort to find the great pieces that balance both.

My go-to linen shift is a five-year-old dress from Mango actually! I used to buy their stuff a fair bit but then somewhere along the way the designs were just a little too trendy for me and I eased off. They must have changed their sizing and cuts too, or maybe my body changed, because I became in between sizes and nothing ever fit right. I have great stuff from there though that I'm still wearing, and I always pop in to look, because the windows are always beautifully styled.

Muji does nice linen shifts...worth a look if you have one near you!

Ammu: I love the sound of that See by Chloe dress, I've always loved the vibrancy of the "papaya"colour, but brights don;t suit me very much. I think dresses should have more room in my life, but I haven't managed it.

miss sophie: Thanks! And I 100% agree with you. But that APC is definitely swaying me...
lin said…
If Jane: Glad you agree!
A├»ssa said…
The APC is a great choice: very simple, chic and versatile. It'd look great on you!
I've had my eyes on their linen embroided dress since the Spring's collection's been out.
Garderoben said…
This A.P.C dress is lovely. I've tried the kind of shift dress SC is wearing, but somehow I always feel like a child in most A.P.C dresses. Many of them are very school-girly in a way that doesn't work for me.
lin said…
Aissa: I love it, but it's too similar to a dress I already have and have no desire to replace. It's one of things I keep thinking someone should buy, haha.

Garderoben: The girlish shift doesn't work for me either; I usually belt them loosely just above my hip bone for a bit of shape, but still keeping a relaxed silhouette.
angie said…
I couldn't agree more with you Lin.I live in a hot country during summer months.In Greece.I decided for this summer to only wear dresses which will be linen and to knee lenght.I have a navy blue one that I look decent and stylish in.
Lindsay K said…
I love dresses. It's an easy way to look smart at the office and can be worn with the change of jewelry or a bag at night. i like the APC dress- the navy color is classic, I love a belt at the waist and the folded pleats add a little detail. An excellent choice.
lin said…
Angie: I admit, I still hang on to jeans even though the weather can be killer. But when I bring out the dress, it's a wonderful relief.

Lindsay K: It's gorgeous, the A.P.C. It comes in black silk too but I think the navy cotton is what makes it so perfect.

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