I'm not exaggerating when I say that I live in dresses. Sure, skirts are great, and I've been known to wear a trouser suit on occasion, but my favourite thing about summer (other than the best weather that Britain has to offer) is the moment that my extensive dress collection comes into its own.
Mini, maxi, long-sleeved, sleeveless… I can't tell you how many dresses I own. And for someone who is almost always rushing, there's no easier outfit than a statement dress. It may take all of two minutes to pull out of the wardrobe and put on, but the final result implies a considered outfit that always looks polished in a way that jeans and a nice top just can't match.
Given the number of dresses that I see, fall in love with and immediately imagine in my wardrobe, there is only so much I can actually spend before I entirely empty my bank balance, but some of the best dresses I own (and the ones on my wish list) are from the high street. Not only does the high street jump now offer quality classics alongside trend-ticking items, but it also caters to a wider range of sizes and body types, and three of the leaders in affordable shopping are H&M, Arket and & Other Stories, who always top my hit list when I'm hunting for inspiration.
On my latest trip around the shops, I couldn't resist three dresses that really stood out amongst the hundreds of new-in pieces. Keep scrolling for my latest buys from H&M, Arket and & Other Stories, as well as some honourable mentions I'm saving for another payday.
H&M BALLOON-SLEEVED CRÊPE DRESS
It's official—the controversial cut-out dress is very much here to stay, but with the long sleeves and maxi length, I didn't feel too exposed in this backless number. The crêpe fabric makes it feel as light as air, making it a great summer option, and although my go-to is a bright colour, the black feels a little more accessible. I love wearing a dramatic dress like this with flat sandals, but I can easily imagine this with strappy heels, too.
It's unlined but thankfully not transparent, so you could even wear this dress as a cover-up over your bikini.
& OTHER STORIES FRINGED MIDI DRESS
I'll start by saying I understand that on first sight, this fringing might not be your first choice, but allow me to persuade you otherwise. & Other Stories knows what it's doing when it comes to fabrication, and this pleasingly thick viscose blend has instantly sculpting properties. Not only did I stand a little taller in this dress, but I felt more confident too. The fringing is an additional little detail to make what would otherwise be a simple knit dress something more special. But the main selling point is of course the stunning shade of tomato-red. It looks a little orangier than the picture on site, but I challenge anyone to try on this colour and not feel immediately more assertive. Power dressing at its finest.
This dress originally caught my eye in a lime-green colourway, but I wasn't sure how much wear I would get from a borderline-neon dress in comparison with this off-white version. In hindsight, I made the right decision, as everything about this dress looks and feels expensive. The pleating and colour remind me of some of the best bits of The Row, while the empire-line stitching is reminiscent of Chloé (albeit for a fraction of the price). Although the colour might not be wedding guest appropriate, this feels like an event dress that could be casually worn with flats too.