We Went Into an Actual Store and Fell in Love With These 19 Dresses

Minimalist and maximalist dresses:

Photo:

Emma Spedding/Joy Montgomery for Who What Wear

As a digital fashion website, here at Who What Wear we are all about the ease and convenience of shopping for clothes online. However, regardless of how seamless the return policy is or how fast next-day delivery is, sometimes you just can't beat the feeling of trying on pieces in real life. As shops—and changing rooms—have now reopened, we have finally been able to bring back our We Try Before You Buy franchise and give you an honest firsthand account of our changing-room successes. Shopping editor Joy Montgomery and I went to the beautiful shopping suites at MatchesFashion's Carlos Place and Browns Fashion's new boutique on Brook Street and decided to try on summer dresses.

We added an extra element to our challenge: Joy could only try on minimalist, simple dresses in a muted colour palette and with subtle design details. I, on the other hand, went for the opposite of subtle, trying on all the bold, colourful, maximalist dresses I could get my hands on. Keep scrolling for the 19 dresses we fell in love with after our first excursion to a changing room in 2021. 

Minimalist

Totême:
Minimalist and maximalist dresses:

Photo:

Emma Spedding/Joy Montgomery for Who What Wear

Despite the fact that Emma told me I looked a little like a nun (in a good way) in this dress, I'm still a big fan. It definitely has that covered-up feel, but it's tempered by the smocked bust and arm details, which give the whole thing shape and drama. 

Asceno:
Minimalist and maximalist dresses:

Photo:

Emma Spedding/Joy Montgomery for Who What Wear

I've seen so many people in this Asceno dress on Instagram recently, and I can definitely see its throw-on-and-go appeal when tried on IRL. The only thing I would say is that both its neckline and back are rather plunging, so bear in mind for underwear choices!

Asceno:
Minimalist and maximalist dresses:

Photo:

Emma Spedding/Joy Montgomery for Who What Wear

This is definitely one of my favourite dresses from the whole try-on. I'm just so in love with the rich blue and floaty silken fabric. It's the sort of style I would love to still be wafting around in when I'm in my 80s with ridiculous costume jewellery and bare feet. 

St. Agni:
Minimalist and maximalist dresses:

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Emma Spedding/Joy Montgomery for Who What Wear

This isn't the sort of thing I would usually go for (cut-outs tend to scare me), but for some reason, this iteration from St. Agni felt a little more accessible thanks to its adjustable tie fastening. It's exactly what I want to be wearing over a bikini on a balmy beach holiday. 

Issey Miyake:
Minimalist and maximalist dresses:

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Emma Spedding/Joy Montgomery for Who What Wear

I've long been a fan of Issey Miyake's plissé fabric designs, so I couldn't turn down the chance to try on one of the brand's dresses. Unusually sized by height, the dress's fit is fairly flexible and also super comfy. A classic in the making for sure. 

Ganni:
Minimalist and maximalist dresses:

Photo:

Emma Spedding/Joy Montgomery for Who What Wear

I fell in love with the candy-stripe iteration of this Ganni dress when I saw it on Instagram, but because I'm repping minimalism today, I decided to try on the non-printed version. This is definitely one for anyone who loves a covered-up smock but wants a little shaping round the middle. 

Lisa Marie Fernandez:
Minimalist and maximalist dresses:

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Emma Spedding/Joy Montgomery for Who What Wear

This retro-inspired LBD is just too cute for words. Coming in a heavyweight linen fabric, it would look great with sandals and sunnies now, then knee-high boots and a layered roll-neck come winter. 

Loup Charmant:
Minimalist and maximalist dresses:

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Emma Spedding/Joy Montgomery for Who What Wear

The minis really are coming up trumps this season, and this draped style from Loup Charmant has converted me to the thigh-skimming hemline. I like how the shorter length is balanced out by the Grecian-style draped sleeves and high neckline. 

Marques'Almeida:
Minimalist and maximalist dresses:

Photo:

Emma Spedding/Joy Montgomery for Who What Wear

I've had this frayed mini on my wish list for a while now, so I enjoyed the chance to try it on in-store. While it's not your usual ankle-length minimalist smock, I still think the cut's simplicity is ideal for anyone who prefers clean-lined aesthetics for the summer months. Oh, and it's on sale now, if you needed further persuading. 

Mes Demoiselles:
Minimalist and maximalist dresses:

Photo:

Emma Spedding/Joy Montgomery for Who What Wear

This is one of those dress-up, dress-down styles that will be invaluable in the summer months. It looks very cool with chunky sandals, but the bias cut means it also lends itself to a more elevated look when styled with heeled sandals and a clutch bag. 

Maximalist

Staud:
Minimalist and maximalist dresses:

Photo:

Emma Spedding/Joy Montgomery for Who What Wear

So I tried this one on as a bit of a dare to myself to see how far I could push this whole maximalist thing. It's part Willy Wonka, part nurse's uniform, and when I saw the sherbert shades up close on the rail, I was certain this would look way too eccentric. But on, it actually works when toned down with a classic basket bag and black sandals. It's also one of those dresses that really pop in photographs. 

Molly Goddard:
Minimalist and maximalist dresses:

Photo:

Emma Spedding/Joy Montgomery for Who What Wear

Ah, Molly Goddard! The London-based designer is the queen of maximalist dresses, as she plays with exaggerated silhouettes, tulle and vibrant colours. These details are the definition of fantasy dresses, and so when assigned this theme, I knew I had to try on at least one Molly dress. The pink is a striking bright salmon, and I loved the gathered detail on the neckline and skirt. Most Molly Goddard dresses will require a formal invitation. However, the oversized shape means this is relaxed enough to work for a dinner or a lunch. I'm in love. 

Ganni:
Minimalist and maximalist dresses:

Photo:

Emma Spedding/Joy Montgomery for Who What Wear

I tried this dress on because Joy told me to, but I was certain it wouldn't work for me. Too much stripe, too much green, too much fabric. On, it doesn't look quite as "extra" as in the product shots and again is something that can be calmed down with the right accessories and shoes. The oversized sleeves and smocked bodice also make this feel unique and not like every other floral dress on Instagram.

Staud:
Minimalist and maximalist dresses:

Photo:

Emma Spedding/Joy Montgomery for Who What Wear

Now this I LOVED. I am not sure where I would actually wear this bright-pink gown given I don't own a yacht or frequent fabulous events. However, if I took up the skirt length to the ankles, it would make the perfect summer-event dress. The fabric wasn't what I expected, as it's made of 100% recycled nylon and so has a parachute feel, which made it less formal than it might appear in the pictures. 

Marta Ferri:
Minimalist and maximalist dresses:

Photo:

Emma Spedding/Joy Montgomery for Who What Wear

This was another of my favourites and felt so special. It's by Italian designer Marta Ferri who used to be a visual merchandiser at Prada before setting up her own brand. At almost £2000, this is a very expensive summer dress. However, the fit was just beautiful and the fabric divine. 

Rixo:
Minimalist and maximalist dresses:

Photo:

Emma Spedding/Joy Montgomery for Who What Wear

I couldn't take on the maximalist-summer-dress theme without trying on at least one Rixo dress. I love the bright-orange colour of this dress and the mermaid print. The loose silhouette makes it feel quite casual, and I'd happily wear this for a Sunday afternoon picnic. 

Matteau:
Minimalist and maximalist dresses:

Photo:

Emma Spedding/Joy Montgomery for Who What Wear

The spaghetti straps and low V of the neckline made this feel quite revealing, and it'd be difficult to find a bra to wear with this. (I took mine off for the photo.) But this would make a gorgeous holiday dress, either worn over a bikini or for evenings by the beach.

Solace London:
Minimalist and maximalist dresses:

Photo:

Emma Spedding/Joy Montgomery for Who What Wear

Now this was my favourite of them all. The colour didn't overpower or wash me out like I feared, and it managed to be both relaxed and fitted at the same time. I've been thinking of buying it ever since. 

Aje:
Minimalist and maximalist dresses:

Photo:

Emma Spedding/Joy Montgomery for Who What Wear

I am a big fan of Aje dresses so was very excited to try this one on. It felt like a lot thanks to the huge full skirt and oversized puff sleeves, but if you have the confidence to wear something that makes a statement, this would be an amazing wedding guest dress.

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