I am a spring/summer girl through and through. It's that magical time when we get to rip off the restrictive opaque tights that have been glued to our legs for the last six months and finally get to wear our favourite lightweight dresses that have been collecting dust in our wardrobes through what felt like a never-ending winter. Most dresses will work with a pair of tights, but it's always my favourites (usually lighter boho dresses or more vibrant pieces) that just don't sit well.
From barbecues to weddings, there always seems to be buzz and excitement for the months ahead and, of course, more than enough reasons to showcase some of the hottest new-in dresses around. Both Hannah Almassi, Who What Wear UK's editor in chief, and I are dress fanatics, and the arrival of spring is all that's needed for us to start exploring which key styles we'd like to consider as additions to our wardrobes. We both have a penchant for similar prints, colours and details, but our personal styles are quite different. We're also both a size 12 but on very different ends of the height spectrum and have different areas of our bodies that we feel more confident showing off, so our needs are varied despite our mutual adoration for frocks.
So we headed out to try on some of the most gorgeous designer and contemporary dresses out there, from Rixo through to Taller Marmo. We headed to Browns Fashion's personal shopping area (so luxe) and Selfridges, picking up every gorgeous dress along the way. A few really stood out. From dream wedding guest outfits to timeless dresses you will love for many seasons to come, read on to see what we found.
Lily says: Sometimes you know a dress is made for you before you even try it on. I LOVE colour even in the darkest depths of winter, so come summertime, I am just looking for excuses to wear something like this. This dress has an instant wow factor but also feels like I'm wearing my comfiest of outfits. I would wear this everywhere from special occasions with heels or on holiday with my smartest flat sandals.
Hannah says: I had been wanting to try on a swooshy Taller Marmo gown for some time, and the glamour of this fringed one did not disappoint. I would say that since I'm 5'1'', the tassels were a teeny bit too long for me, and I'd probably trip up IRL, so I'd opt for one of the feather-trimmed styles or midi options instead should I ever take the plunge to buy one. However, the yellow is fab-u-lous and so uplifting.
Lily says: Both Hannah and I have been wearing Rixo dresses since the brand first launched back in 2015, and I always know I can find something that will fit my body shape no matter the occasion, and since it launched sizes up to a UK 20, it's great to know that many more people can enjoy these lovely dresses!
Hannah says: I'm in love, and now I need to buy this dress! It's such a perfect fit for me (especially with the addition of my own vintage belt), and I love how frivolous and fun it is whilst also remaining really easy to just fling on thanks to its light cotton fabric. I've spotted a lot of girls on social media wearing this style, and I understand the hype.
Lily says: You would expect a dress of this length and cut to be pretty restrictive when it comes to movement, but Solace London is great at using stretchy fabrics to create red carpet–worthy dresses that look premium but won't have you counting the hours until you take it off—and, most importantly, at a fraction of the price.
Hannah says: I know the hem would get destroyed because it's too long for me, but this rainbow-striped knit dress is glorious nonetheless! The fit is great thanks to a fairly heavyweight finish and the stripes being positioned just so. The back is a nice surprise with cut-out detailing (that still allows you to wear a bra, phew), so this dress is full of interest. I just wish it came in a midi version for me…
Lily says: I was drawn to the unusual lime shade of this dress and the several nods to '80s detailing. From the shoulders and waistband to the diamanté neckline, this dress is more versatile than most would think. You could easily wear this for a smart dinner invitation, and it makes the perfect city-wedding outfit.
Hannah says: This gorgeous red dress has been on my wish list for weeks now, and it didn't disappoint in the flesh. Such a stunning colour, a flattering fit and the kind of piece you just end up feeling really confident in. I did size down and would recommend you do the same if you have a smaller waist or hourglass figure, as it benefits from being a slimmer fit around the bosom and waist area due to the cut-out details.
Lily says: Australian label Zimmermann has long been one of the go-to designers for ultra-feminine pieces that could be worn to a wedding as easily as they could be worn on the beach. The brand’s whimsical prints in sun-bleached shades and delicate lace detailing are what its loyal customers have come to know and love. And although Zimmerman pieces are definitely an investment since the brand repositioned itself at the top end of the market, there’s no denying it knows how to make a good dress, and I would buy this one in a heartbeat.
The sweetheart neckline is super flattering. It nips in at the waist and frames my slimmest part and has a fun fluted skirt that just skims my hips. This is the perfect summer dress!
Hannah says: I want to be the woman who wears this dress for summer nights at a swish gallery opening or picnic at Glynde opera. There's no denying that this is a far more delicate, special and event-ready piece than a chuck-on-and-go summer frock, but if you have a wedding or some other high-profile event to attend, this is wonderful quality and really quirky and features lots of nice little details like fabric shells on the belt.
Lily says: If you’re looking to invest in a dress, I have always found timeless pieces like these two from Ulla Johnson guarantee cost per wear. Ulla manages to cleverly blend her signature bohemian aesthetic with contemporary seasonless designs that could be worn by a daughter or her mother. This dress fits like a glove. PS: Size down, as they run big.
Hannah says: Although this asymmetric style was a little large on me, and I should've sized down, it was still such a sophisticated piece to try on. There's something about that pencil skirt that instantly feels glamourous, even though the overall effect of an Ulla Johnson dress is one of ease. I'm not really a fan of getting my arms out, but this cut felt understated and subtle enough to work. And I just loved the frills!