What is your best dress? It’s quite a difficult one, isn’t it? There are plenty of dresses we love at first sight—and that’s why we buy them so easily and happily—but it’s hard to know which ones will stand the test of time in order to get BDF (best dress forever) status and give us wear after wear.
It's almost an art form in itself, so if you haven't found yours yet, we asked five fashion insiders to share their best dress to date to inspire you—revealing the backstory behind where it's from, why it was bought and how it earned such a coveted accolade. Keep scrolling for six fashion insiders and the best dresses they ever bought…
1. Vanessa Hong
"This JH Zane dress is my all-time favorite because it encapsulates the very contrasting elements of my personal style," says Vanessa, founder of The Haute Pursuit.
"It’s extremely feminine but a little risqué. It fits like a dream and has the most perfect open back, delicately strung together by a single string.
"Zane (who is a very close friend) knows how to cut a dress—he knows how to dress a girl. If you don’t have Zane in your closet, you’re missing out!"
2. Lorna Andrews
LornaLuxe founder Lorna’s all-time favourite dress comes from Réalisation Par. Costing £150, she spotted it on Instagram and "hashtag needed it."
"On the website, it's described as a get-out-of-jail-free-card, owing to the fact when you wear it you can get away with anything. It's silky and feminine, so works as well for day with kicks as it does evening with strappy stilettos. I like a dress that requires little or no accessorising and this kind of does all the work for you. So good, I just ordered it in navy too."
3. Claire Chanelle
Claire’s favourite dress is by Keepsake the Label. The Chouquette founder first saw it on a celebrity, after which she bought it for her wedding brunch last summer. "I love to associate clothes with a memory, and this dress reminds me of my wedding, which was the happiest weekend of my life," she explains.
"The dress was perfect for a wedding or a summer event. I love the pastel blue lace and the nude undertone. It is soft and feminine but not too girly. The best thing about this dress is that it's simple to accessorise and re-wear, but when you really look at it, it is very beautiful with so much detail. A year later, I am wearing it again to a friend's wedding."
4. Ella Catliff
Holly Mcglynn / ella-lapetiteanglaise.com
La Petite Anglaise's Ella Catliff says it’s impossible for her to choose one best dress, but concedes: "There are certainly a couple of dresses that I love an unhealthy amount and wear at any possible opportunity. The first one that springs to mind—possibly because I’ve basically lived in it since March—is a blue and white cotton sundress by Rebecca Minkoff.
"I genuinely can’t explain why I was so drawn to this particular dress. It’s gorgeous but a little more understated than the sequined, tasseled, multi-coloured, pattern-clashing kind of thing that I usually fall for. Evidently some sensible part of my subconscious just knew I needed it in my life/wardrobe!
"It is a dress I not only adore aesthetically but is incredibly versatile and also makes me feel instantly comfortable, chic and very much myself whenever I wear it."
5. Anna Madsen
Courtesy of Anna Madsen
Anna, fashion writer for Vogue Italia, bought her favourite dress from Sandro last summer for her cousin’s wedding in Sweden. Costing £200, it’s the best she’s ever bought because it's "so transitional."
"I've worn it throughout summer for parties and dinners, and also into late autumn with a biker jacket and ankle boots," she says. "It's a flattering colour that works with black, white, nude and metallic accessories, which is really rare for a dress!
"It's feminine but not girly. It looks really exclusive with its crisscross draped detailing in the front. I love how it's so easy-breezy and elegant for all occasions. It's flirty yet formal, and stands out but is never loud. It's everything a dress should be, and my boyfriend loves it too."
6. Rosie Fortescue
Rosie Fortescue’s top choice is from Self-Portrait, her "go-to brand for beautiful dresses."
"I never used to be a huge fan of dresses, but after discovering the brand I am totally obsessed and can't wear enough of their designs," says the A Fashion Forte founder.
"It was from Selfridges a few months ago and cost around £250. I bought it because I knew it was the perfect versatile summer dress that I could wear with heels on a night out but also with flats during the day.
"It's über-feminine, and I adore the materials. TOTAL dream dress!"
Go through the gallery below to shop some of the wisest dress investments you can make today…