Bring on the Dresses: 13 Styles That Truly Matter for 2022

Roll up, roll up, for the greatest fashion show on earth is about to begin, and you have a front-row seat. Winter is a distant memory, and as we look to a brighter future in 2022—both literally and figuratively—now is the time to turn our collective attention to what I would argue is the most fantastical, most joyful, and most exhilarating garment of them all: the dress. 

As a child, I'd play dress-up in the cast-off clothes handed down to me by the women in my family. One day, I embarked on an expedition for something new when I found myself in my aunt's old bedroom in my grandmother's house. I knew I shouldn't be in there, but like Gatsby's green light, it felt as if something was calling me from beyond. I crossed the threshold and tentatively approached her closet. As I peered inside, at the far end, coats and jumpers between us, I saw the edge of a garment bag. I dashed downstairs and asked my grandmother if I could see what was inside. She obliged, and as she unzipped it from top to bottom, a core memory formed. 

Unfurling itself from its nylon prison was the most spellbinding dress I had seen in my six years of life: a bridesmaid dress from the '80s. All taffeta and tulle in a delicate shade of Renaissance blue, with puffed-up sleeves that resembled the lightest clouds, a neckline decorated with saccharine fabric roses, and a deep V-shaped waistline—just the sort seen on the princess dresses I gawped over as I played my Disney videos in reruns. I was mesmerised. It took a little persuading to convince my aunt to let me wear it, but the day she relented was the day I fell unequivocally in love with dresses and learned that behind wardrobe doors was where the magic lived. 

Dress Report 2022: 13 Styles That Truly Matter for 2022

Photo:

Courtesy of Altuzarra; Aje; Elleme; Anna Sui

My infatuation with dresses has endured throughout the 27 years since, never for a second wavering. Between the ages of 13 and 22, I wore little else. In fact, I didn't own a pair of jeans until my mid-20s (save for, perhaps, a pair I kept in a drawer for more practical endeavours). Dresses became and remain interwoven with the most important moments of my life, bright and dark. The point I am pirouetting around is that dresses hold a special place in my heart, and if you've found yourself here and are still reading these words, then I know I'm in good company. You too see dresses for all that they can be—a pure form of sartorial expression and, when you need it most, glorious escapism.

During lockdown, I wore my most fabulous dresses around the house—one afternoon, I even did the dishes in my bejewelled wedding dress—just to bring a bit of that lost magic back into my life. Anything feels possible when you wear a dress; actually, anything is possible when you wear a dress that makes you feel invincible and special. And this year, there are more than a fair share of them that will unlock this in you. 

I haven't, however, left anything to chance or, indeed, magic. When it came to unearthing the fairest and finest dresses of the season, I enlisted the help of some people who are very much in the know—experts from across the fashion ether who truly understand and appreciate the full potential of a dress, just as we do. By experts, I mean Kay Barron and Libby Page, fashion director and senior market editor at NET-A-PORTER, respectively; Liane Wiggins, head of womenswear at MATCHESFASHION; Rachel Ingram, editor in chief at Threads; and Isabel Spearman, brand consultant and founder of the Daily Dress Edit—peppered with insights and observations from yours truly, of course! So which trends and styles do they believe matter most for 2022? Let's find out, shall we? 

1. WEAR THE RAINBOW

Dress Report 2022: Wear the Rainbow

Photo:

Courtesy of Hanifa; Proenza Schouler; L’Agence

“These joyful colour trends we are seeing for S/S 22 are a continuation of sentiments that have emerged in previous seasons—a renewed interest in the joy of dressing up and a need for self-expression,” explains Wiggins. “Ganni’s Higher Love show really set the tone at the start of the season—it was all about experimenting with colour and feeling confident. Valentino was another highlight; its colour-pop party dresses in particular are key for the summer, from its hot-pink halterneck minidress to a bright orange asymmetric silk dress.” 

“At Threads, we can’t get enough of bold, bright colour for summer—the brighter, the better,” affirms Ingram. “Pair contrasting tones such as orange and pink or green and blue, keeping your colours bold and bright and avoiding pattern. My pick of the summer would be a bold yellow dress—this one by Yuliya Magdych in particular, which I would pair with contrasting lilac slides or a bright-pink bag.”

For its collection, Valentino created its own shade of pink, entitled PP Pink.

The column dress every fashion person has on their wish list this season. 

2. CRAFT CLUB

Dress Report 2022: Craft Club

Photo:

Courtesy of Altuzarra; Chloé; Anna Sui

"Miu Miu set the tone for this for spring/summer 2022, and I predict crochet dresses will be the cult buy this season,” says Ingram. “Also seen at brands from Chloé to The Attico to cool French-girl brand Alanui, these come in styles to suit all. Above them all, new brand Cormio has created the one that ended up in my basket.” 

A fun mini to wear everywhere from the beach to the bar. 

A midi dress that’ll elevate your summer wardrobe to no end. 

3. MINI ADVENTURES

Dress Report 2022: Mini Adventures

Photo:

Courtesy of Elleme; Valentino; Ulla Johnson

“In case you were in any doubt, minis are key for the spring/summer 2022 season,” says Wiggins. “Expect to see this trend manifest in short, uplifting party pieces, the sort of which were seen at Valentino and Louisa Ballou, all the way to the slightly more covered-up body-con dresses."

This dress also taps into the logo-wearing trend. 

Draping is also a key aesthetic for 2022—so tick off two trends in one with this mini. 

4. FOREVER FLORALS

Dress Report 2022: Forever Florals

Photo:

Courtesy of Jason Wu; Prabal Gurung; Erdem

“I always encourage my Daily Dress Edit customers to buy into what makes them feel their best,” says Spearman. “Not to worry too much about trends. Find a dress that suits their body shape and one that is easy to wear so that it gets lots of use. After all, that’s all we really want for a dress, isn’t it? One that we can throw on and makes us feel good. The sort of dress I gravitate towards is along the lines of those created by independent maker Johanna Sands—using delicate florals in timeless silhouettes, I own three already but would happily have more.” 

Delicate florals will never date, and Rixo always does them so well. 

The high neck, ruffle sleeves and full skirt give this dress vintage appeal. 

5. BE THE DRAMA

Dress Report 2022: Be the Drama

Photo:

Courtesy of Alexander McQueen, Celine, Jason Wu

“A great dress is the most impactful way to get dressed this season, not to mention the easiest,” confirms Barron. “Minimum effort—simply throw on and go—but in brilliant bold colours and/or exaggerated silhouettes, each dress packs quite the punch. Don’t be afraid to have fun with accessories, as chunky sandals (of which there are many this season) are a great finale to statement dresses while all the brights in ready-to-wear are just waiting for a colour-clash handbag. Of course, a magnificent dress is not just for the summer months, as when the temperatures drop, just add hosiery and boots, and you will have that spring in your step all year round.”

If you prefer muted hues, this showstopping gown also comes in black. 

The high-low hemline is all the drama you need. 

6. JET-BLACK MAGIC

Dress Report 2022: Jet-Black Magic

Photo:

Courtesy of Christopher Esber, Elleme, Nensi Dojaka

“A look that’s only going to become more prevalent as we head towards autumn/winter 2022, we identified early on that black is back for the season,” says Page. “Championed by the likes of Bottega Veneta, Valentino and Khaite, all of which showcased incredibly alluring and impactful dress styles in daring jet black. Whether mini, midi or maxi, a black dress is a timeless wardrobe staple. I particularly loved the sharp tailoring from Givenchy, the figure-hugging simplistic maxi dress at Gauchere and the satin draped-sleeved gown at Saint Laurent, which I foresee having the same impact in years to come.” 

The entire team is in love with this romantic dress from Khaite. 

You need to see the pretty tie-up back on this dress. 

7. Y2K FOR TODAY

Dress Report 2022: Y2K for Today

Photo:

Courtesy of Blumarine, Loewe, Versace

“We saw a return to a more playful approach to dressing for spring/summer 2022, which corresponds with our customers who are quite simply enjoying dressing up and having fun with fashion again,” enlightens Page. “Designers such as LaQuan Smith, Nensi Dojaka, Maximilian, Supriya Lele and David Koma fully embraced this approach whilst celebrating the female form through striking cut-out dresses, flashing midriffs and brightly coloured body-con and mini styles, proving the Y2K trend is here to stay.”

Between the colour, cut-outs and mini hemlines, this dress screams ’90s. 

Have your very own Britney moment in this midi dress. 

This dress was made to be worn with strappy sandals and a leather blazer. 

8. MAXI APPROACH 

Dress Report 2022: Maxi Approach

Photo:

Courtesy of Aknvas, Gabriela Hearst, Chloé

You could say this has been a season of opposites, and where there are minis, there are absolutely maxis to counter them. “Maxi styles were all over the runway, with the long dresses in print and colour from Proenza Schouler, Loewe, and Kika Vargas being some of the highlights,” agrees Wiggins.

The cut-out shoulders mean you won’t feel fully covered up in this maxi. 

This dress has been a hit on social media, and it’s easy to see why. 

9. LOOK OF LOVE

Dress Report 2022: Look of Love

Photo:

Courtesy of Aje, Carolina Herrera, Jenny Packham

“Consisting of romantic styles in red, pink and orange hues, a mood we’re coining the Look of Love is resonating on-site and with our customer right now,” elaborates Page. “I loved the sweet pink minidress at Emilia Wickstead, the red draped maxi dress at Sacai and the bold PP Pink styles at Valentino.” 

If you told me this dress was designer, I’d honestly believe you. 

10. NEGATIVE SPACE

Dress Report 2022: Negative Space

Photo:

Courtesy of Christopher Esber, Prabul Gurung, Hanifa

“Never before have cut-outs and flashes of skin been more relevant,” says Ingram. We are seeing this from most of our favourite designers at Threads, from Jacquemus and Versace to the more minimalist take at Khaite and Christopher Esber. Our customers and our team love this trend for day or night—personally, I’d channel it by way of the below Siedres dress, which feels covered enough for me and shows just a hint of skin.”

"The empowering, new sexy trend was a key theme across the spring/summer 2022 runways—one we saw continue and evolve for A/W 22,” Wiggins expands. “The MATCHESFASHION customer has been responding well to looks that enhance and empower the female form and make them feel positive, confident, and true to themselves. Designers really focused on fabrics that flatter all shapes in an effortless and approachable way. A few personal highlights are Nensi Dojaka, Maximilian, and Ludovic de Saint Sernin."

Aje has some of the most beautiful dresses this season. 

Choose your favourite shade in this dress, and pick shoes that match it. 

Black dresses with cut-outs always look so impactful on. 

11. EVERLASTING LINEN

Dress Report 2022: Everlasting Linen

Photo:

Courtesy of Elleme, Jonathan Simkhai, Eudon Choi

"If you want staying power, invest wisely in classic cuts and shapes,” advises Ingram. Summer is the best time to do this—invest well and build a wardrobe of beautifully fitting summer dresses you will want to pull out year after year. Linens from our brand partners like Bondi Born or Posse seem to resist dating, and I have a selection of dresses short and long, with sleeves and without, that have been on every trip with me these last few years."

This will look beautiful styled with a basket bag (preferably Loewe) and tan sliders. 

The shirring technique loans itself perfectly to linen textures. 

12. PRIZED POSSESSIONS

Dress Report 2022: Prized Possessions

Photo:

Courtesy of Giambattista Valli, Valentino, David Koma

“I’ve seen a more daring and eclectic approach to dressing unfold this season, and one of the biggest trends that stood out comes under the NET-A-PORTER theme of Trophy Dressing,” says Page. “Consisting of statement dresses adorned in sequins, feathers and embellishments like those at 16Arlington, Bottega Veneta and Givenchy, now is the perfect time to shine.” 

“I have a family wedding this year, and I'm so looking forward to getting dressed into something statement,” agrees Ingram. “The access Threads has to eveningwear is unparalleled, and I’m hoping to find something from brand partner Georges Hobeika. Cool couture is our personal shoppers’ speciality.”

Taller Marmo’s dresses are beloved by celebrities and influencers alike. 

I don’t often wear sparkle, but this dress has absolutely convinced me otherwise. So beautiful. 

Give this dress a low-key spin with flat sandals and a canvas bag. 

13. COLOUR-WHEEL CLASH

Dress Report 2022: Colour-Wheel Clash

Photo:

Courtesy of Bottega Veneta, Emilia Wickstead, PatBo

We’ve already established that bright colours are high on the dress agenda for 2022, but which shades are most in-demand? “We have seen a considerable increase in searches for pink and green dresses this season,” says Page. “Proenza Schouler’s green cut-out maxi dress has been a consistent key style for us.”

Cotton-poplin dresses are so breathable, even in the height of summer. 

With a dress this beautiful, you don’t need to dedicate lots of time to styling it—just add gold jewellery and you’re done. 

And there you have it—13 wonderful dress moods to try this year.

Next Up, Summer 2022 Trends: The Only 17 Looks You Need to Know About

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