"What a surprise—she's wearing another dress," say people who are probably fed up with following me on Instagram. If, however, you haven't muted me and my ridiculously expansive collection of dresses, maybe it's because you share the same shopping passion. Which means you might enjoy this story, as it's dedicated to the places where I buy my favourite ones from.
I'm talking, of course, about the brands I have confidence in going back to time and again for both the special-occasion dresses but also the day-to-day ones I like to wear to the office. If there's one item I know I can feel myself in, it's a relatively modest, long-sleeved, probably bright or printed midi, and there are now labels that really specialise in that kind of easy, do-it-all dress.
I'm willing to share the knowledge. From the secret high-street sources stocking really expensive-looking styles that I'd instruct anyone to add to their office wardrobe ASAP to the lesser-known names I'd head straight to for a standout wedding guest ensemble, here's my little black book of dresses.
Why I love the brand's dresses: Rejina is the don when it comes to dramatic dress you can get away with wearing in the day. The booming balloon-sleeve trend can be traced back to her (and I do admit I own two of them, as well as this red number), but she's just as adept at flourishing dresses with ruffles or rendering them in offbeat, eye-catching colours.
What I'd recommend buying: They're all fab—I can't choose.
Top tip: Worth noting though that as a petite girl I can be a bit swamped in the volume of fabric, so it might be worth sizing down if you're short.
Why I love the brand's dresses: As far as high-street dresses go, I have quite a few winning work-appropriate ones from Mango. It's the directional shapes, sturdy fabrics and relatively plain finishes that tick all the boxes for me.
What I'd recommend buying: For me, plainer is better, so I'd suggest block colours and styles that have minimal detailing.
Top tip: FYI, I originally bought this as a maxi, as the brand offers a lot of longer-length dresses, but I took it up myself to make it more useful and wearable.
Why I love the brand's dresses: Rixo's dresses provide that vintage look but with all the benefits of being made new: their silk styles are a fantastic price considering the fabric and the fit is more standardised (and super-flattering on many) than thrifted pieces. The girls are always bringing out new and exciting prints, silhouettes (and soon more accessories) so there's always something else to discover.
What I'd recommend buying: Any midi! Right now, I'm into the Sienna shirtdress, which you can also wear as a jacket or layered over jeans.
Top tip: I prefer the higher-neck styles, as the deeper Vs or wrap styles are too low and revealing for me.
Why I love the brand's dresses: Since Finery launched back in 2015, I've purchased a few standout dresses—usually in bold prints and longer-line shapes—that always feel fun to wear. The design team and aesthetic has changed quite a bit over time, but I still think there are some great dresses to be found.
What I'd recommend buying: Everyone on the team here is interested in the new-in tea dresses.
Top tip: The sizing used to be really on point, but I haven't bought anything in a while, so I'd maybe grab your normal size and one either side of it when shopping online.
Why I love the brand's dresses: Ganni's dresses are always a little bit weird, and that's what sets them apart from the rest. The Danish brand is always great with of-the-moment prints (often setting the trend rather than following it), and the roomier silhouettes allow for days were you can wear their dresses loose and breezy or belt them in for a different look entirely.
What I'd recommend buying: I've had heaps of wear out of this Little House on the Prairie–style checked dress (bought back in 2017), and it's continuing the vibe in many ways for this year.
Top tip: I had to size down for this dress to fit my waist better (and to not drown in fabric), but slimmer silhouettes can be tighter on the arms and thighs/hips if you're curvy like me.
Why I love the brand's dresses: So flattering, so comfy, so many exciting colours and prints to choose from… The heavier weight and bias cut of Ghost's new wave of dresses has everyone on the team here hooked.
What I'd recommend buying: Every damn thing.
Top tip: I have nothing pertinent to offer you here—just buy and see for yourself.
Why I love the brand's dresses: If you're looking for something totally offbeat, I'd suggest you hit up Paper London ASAP. Its attention to detailing and more directional silhouettes makes it a temptingly unusual option for discerning shoppers.
What I'd recommend buying: You can get the white version of my blue dress (which is super to swish around in and rather flattering) on The Outnet right now.
Top tip: Try them on rather than judge from online. I think some of Paper's dresses aren't done justice on a mannequin and need to be seen IRL.