There are a lot of things to look forward to when the brighter, warmer months arrive, and seeing as this is Who What Wear, you know the fresh fashion offerings are one of them. Nothing can rival the feeling of dressing out of want instead of necessity. I, for one, can't wait to rid myself of the cumbersome layers required to see out the winter and instead saunter around without so much as a coat or jumper. The first thing I reach for when that moment comes? A dress.
It feels like it's been forever since I invested in a new dress, so I was looking forward to seeing what delights the market has to offer now that the new collections are beginning to drop. What I didn't expect, however, was to love so many of them. For 2023, I'm seeing dresses fall into one of two categories. The first is ultra-pretty dresses adorned with roses, crystals and bows and painted in delicate pastel colours. The other? Focused on versatility and wearability, there's a new league of throw-on dresses that have been designed with the sole purpose of making you look as pulled-together as possible with as little effort as possible. I'd very much like to add both to my wardrobe.
Interested to see what the best dresses of 2023 are? I thought you might be. Scroll on to see all nine of them.
1. MINIMAL THROW-ONS
Style Notes: The beauty of dresses is the sheer amount of outfit dilemmas they can solve, and the latest slew of simple, highly wearable dresses in comfortable fabrics is a testament to that. Leading the charge are brands such as Ninety Percent, Baserange and Raey, whose designs are a harmony of aesthetics and function.
2. CAN'T GO WRONG WITH COS
Style Notes: Of all the high-street brands out there, the one doing dresses best right now is COS, and my editor colleagues agree with me. "There's an endless supply of versatile dresses at COS at the moment," says affiliate editor Emily Dawes. "From simple tube dresses to details such as drapery, it's the brand I see most often on the streets of London."
3. SO TRANSPARENT
Style Notes: Naked dresses have evolved into something spectacular this season. Instead of packing away our sparkle until November rolls around, this season's array of sparkly see-through dresses encourages us to keep on shining well into the summer months. How much you decide to bare is entirely up to you. If you're new to the trend, I suggest layering a sheer dress over a bra top and slip skirt to ease yourself in. Or go straight for the bikini.
4. ALL A BLUR
Style Notes: Floral dresses go hand in hand with this time of year, but I'm finding that blur prints are becoming just as prevalent. I just know this Paco Rabanne midi will be a cult item in a matter of days, but don't disregard like likes of independent Brit label Kai Collective, which has been creating blur-print dresses for years.
5. DETAIL OF NOTE: ROSETTES
Style Notes: While we're on the subject of prints, if you thought the only way to wear florals was by way of prints, think again. Designers such as Madga Butrym opted to adorn everything from tops and necklaces to, yes, dresses with pretty corsages.
6. ULTIMATE LUXURY: CHRISTOPHER ESBER
Style Notes: Daring cutouts, dramatic drapery panels and breathtaking adornment, Christopher Esber's instantly recognisable dresses have been rising in popularity over the past few years, but if you take into account the Instagram feeds of some of the platform's most stylish content creators, it's the luxury name to know (and shop) in 2023. With dresses forming a significant part of its current collection, I expect to see a lot of them as we head into occasion and holiday season.
7. COLOUR TO TRY: LIME
Style Notes: Bright colours were high on the spring/summer 2023 fashion agenda, but of all the hues we saw on the runways, none have made quite the same impact on our IRL wares as lime. What I didn't expect from this colour trend is just how beautiful it looks set against every skin tone and hair colour—no small feat for something so statement making. In terms of how to wear it, follow the influencers' lead with a lime dress and minimal accessories.
Style Notes: I like to think we've taken a very nuanced look at dress "trends" today. While they certainly work with the current fashion zeitgeist, I genuinely think that everything we've seen so far will go the distance in your wardrobe and won't feel dated years down the line. If, however, you'd like to take an even slower approach, perhaps commissioning a made-to-order dress from one of the many brilliant brands that offer such a service is the way to go. From Olivia Rose's Instagram-famous puff-sleeve Manon dress to the latest creations by Molby the Label, these dresses are limited edition and only made when ordered, and they can be tailored to any sizing specifications. The future of dress shopping? You're looking at it.
9. PARTY IN THE BACK
Style Notes: "Dresses with back details are one of the prettiest of the season," says shopping editor Remy Farrell. "Nothing says summer quite like a tie-back dress, basket bag and sandals." Indeed, fashion people like to hone in on special detailing, and what's more beautiful than a dress with a low, tied or cutout back?