Our We Try Before You Buyseries aims to take the stress out of shopping and eliminate the number of post office visits you make each month to return failed online orders. We test new-season buys and styling ideas so you don't have to. Here, we're letting you know what is actually worth investing in.
For this month's We Try Before You Buy, I asked the team to send me links to the summer dresses they'd like to try on the most out of everything available on the internet. I gave no guidance, other than it had to be a dress that you'd wear in June.
The links I received back couldn't really have been more varied, from the styles to the lengths to the prices. Some of us used this as an excuse to try on special pieces from designers like Zimmermann, Lee Matthews and Dodo Bar Or. But below is also a showcase of the best of the British high street, with a beautiful red tea dress from Marks & Spencer, a Topshop zebra-print dress and a blue checked New Look dress that no one will believe you found at New Look.
There are some recurring themes, however, as puff sleeves, shirred waistbands, red floral prints and tiered skirts appear again and again. This We Try Before You Buy series always has the same conclusion—it makes the team want to purchase things ourselves before even hitting publish, and this time, it's a Sister Jane pink maxi dress, a Rhode belted minidress and a Warehouse fruit-bowl dress that might be re-entering into the Who What Wear office after payday.
Keep scrolling to see and shop the 16 summer dresses our team couldn't wait to try on this month.
Who What Wear
I have succumbed to this year's neon trend and am a big fan of washed-out acid prints, so I was immediately drawn to Warehouse's fruit salad midi. Admittedly, the glow-in-the-dark effect makes this look like toxic fruit. I'd wear this on weekends with my Vejas.
"It's bloody M&S! I think this slinky crepe tea dress looks way beyond its price tag. I'm usually in avoidance of tea dresses because I think they can make the fuller-busted like myself look a bit frumpy, but this one is cut so well and is so simple that it works. Added to the fact that its rendered in my favourite shade and we have ourselves a high-street winner." — Hannah Almassi
"It's taken me a little while to get on board with the fact that minidresses have returned, but thankfully, this season's iterations are super grown-up and elegant. Case in point? This Self-Portrait (I couldn't believe it either) minidress has a stylish '70s spin to it, with the flared cuffs and collared neckline. I also think it would look just as good with strappy heels as it does with chunky sandals." — Joy Montgomery
I'm a sucker for a floral dress, and Net-a-Porter has just brought one of the prettiest dress labels over to the UK exclusively: Dôen. I love the soft vintage-style print, the shirred bodice and the pretty bows on the shoulders. The fanciest weekend dress I've ever considered buying...
"For me, this Sister Jane dress is the summer frock of dreams. Despite its maxi length, it felt incredible floaty and lightweight—perfect for wearing in the warmer months without overheating. Although I think this would make a gorgeous wedding-guest dress option when worn with a pair of strappy heels, I'll be sticking with sneakers to dress down the feminine frills and colour and can see myself wearing this both to the office and to summer festivals." — Mica Ricketts
"I have to admit that I did buy this dress before our try-on trial even began. I had seen the Three Graces founder wearing it at press day and fell in love with everything about it. The comfy, flattering shirred waist, the full skirt to swish around in, the modern sleeves and angelic off-white colour all speak to the Grecian goddess I'd really love to be this summer!" — Hannah
"I've spotted so many influencers wearing the floral version of this dress on Instagram, and it gives me butterflies every time I think about it, so I decided to try the same dress but in 2019's favourite fabric: gingham. Needless to say, it's love at first sight. The sleeves! The tailored silhouette! It's not exactly a shrinking violet of a dress, but, boy, does it make me feel like a million dollars. I'm sold." — Joy
When I put on this dress, my team exclaimed, "Emma, your legs!" which might sound like a rather bizarre comment to a colleague, but there's no need to alert HR. It's because I always hide my knees behind printed midi dresses. But this Rhode dress has me sold on the minidress revival. The oversized sleeves and relaxed fit around the waist make it feel really relaxed despite the thigh-high length. This is one of those dresses I won't forget about quickly.
"I was surprised by how much I loved this dress. It's slightly lower at the front than something I'd usually go for, but teamed with some fine gold necklaces I actually really liked how it looked. Of all the dresses that I tried, this would be the one that I would most likely wear to a summer party or wedding, as it had slightly more special occasion vibes. However, when teamed with Converse, it was easy to give it a more casual, everyday vibe and get that cost per wear down. Love the colour, love the print—love love love." — Mica
"I really love kaftan-style and oversized dresses right now, as they seem perfect for a heat wave. They keep you cool but cover you up if you don't want to flash any flesh. I'm especially obsessed with this bright '60s-style print too." — Elinor
"This splodgy multicoloured print won't be for all the Rixo fans out there, but I'm always inclined to choose something a little off-beat rather than cute or obvious, so this new look from the London label has piqued my interest. It will be a brilliant wedding-guest option, but also pretty cool on holiday with flat sandals and a basket bag. All of Rixo's dresses fit like a dream, and this is no exception." — Hannah
"If you're looking for a more affordable way to update your summer dress wardrobe, New Look has some great options this season. I love the slightly vintage-inspired tea dress silhouette of this dress, and the tie detailing means you can cinch it around the waist or wear it slightly more loose and flowing. I sized up to get a more casual shape I can wear all summer long with trainers. This will definitely be the dress I reach for during the busy summer months when I have breakfast meetings to dash to before work and don't want to get hot and sweaty." — Mica
"I love a wrap dress, as they always fit me in just the right places. This one is no exception, and it's especially ideal if you've got a bigger bust. I paired mine with one of my favourite pairs of gold sandals from Aldo (these are a couple of years old now) and am fully prepared to wear this to a wedding this summer." — Elinor
"I never thought I'd be the sort of person to go for a floaty milkmaid frock, but the moment I put this Free People style on, I fell in love. I think the fact that it's black helps it to avoid looking too boho for my taste, but most of all, the shape is just so flattering, thanks to the shirred bust detail and full skirt. If you need me, I'll be floating round Hyde Park in this baby." — Joy