If there’s one thing I know, it’s dresses. My wardrobe is full of them, and I wear them 99.9% of the time. I’ve always struggled with casual (long-time Who What Wear readers will have repeatedly read about my ongoing struggle with denim—sorry to be a bore!), so easy, good-looking frocks are my most trusted fashion staple.
I have affordable ones that I wear each and every week. I have special, more expensive ones that come out for important occasions or big meetings. I have those in-between, mid-priced options that bridge the gap between casual days and fancy ones. I own styles that are ultra-summery and best for heatwaves and holiday packing, but I’ve also got a fair number of clever, trans-seasonal styles that can work layered up and with tights in winter or with bare legs and sandals during warmer months. I even have dresses that I’ve made at home because I can’t always find the exact colour, shape or fit I’ve been dreaming of. I have some It dresses, I suppose—although, I’m always very careful to buy something that really speaks to my personal style and that I know I’ll wear even when its cult status has worn off. I may own a lot of frocks, but entry into my wardrobe isn’t easy. I’m a pretty discerning customer who values quality and longevity above all else.
On Hannah: An old Ghost dress I wear at least once a fortnight. So who could be better positioned to bring you a very trustworthy edit of the best new-in dresses than a self-confessed frock obsessive with a very picky taste? No one! Here are the loveliest styles I’ve seen this week…
This green is just glorious!
I’m at the stage where this gallery should just become a story full of COS dresses, they’re THAT good right now.
This dress is haunting me! Ever since I spotted it in Zara’s new-in section a few days ago, I can’t stop thinking about it. I don’t know if I’ll be able to pull of the matching hat, scarf and gloves, but the dress alone with knee boots would be ultra chic.
I’m always in the market for a great leopard print dress, and this one has me in the details: ruched waist, puff sleeves and swishy hem, it’s all there.
I have two plain dresses in this shape and wear them on repeat each winter. The look cool worn loosely, but also feel a bit sassier with a vintage belt.
RI Studio has just landed and it’s full of the kind of throw-on, super-easy pieces you want right now. This is a pretty timeless shape that will look good for many seasons to come.
From the collar to the swingy back, the big cuffs to the muted blue… everything about this dress just looks SO premium.
If you have a party, wedding or fancy do coming up, this is the dress to beat!
Mango’s entire drop of checked pieces is just so very good.
Chloé’s new collection has been created by designer Gabriela Hearst and to say it’s going to be popular is an understatement. Expect to see this incredible striped dress (along with the matching bag) during fashion month and on Instagram in no time…
I have a feeling this expensive-looking M&S dress is going to be really popular. Add tan knee boots and a neckerchief for ’70s vibes.
Tove’s signature ruched dresses now come in a more autumnal form with long sleeves, slinky fabrics and a slightly shorter hemline. Divine.
I’m still hopeful of an Indian summer, and this would be the perfect dress to live it out in style, without having to try too hard.
I wasn’t into loose-fitting dresses until I tried this one! It’s the delicate ties, cool contrast of light and dark green gingham, and the romantic sleeves that combine into one very easy-but-beautiful style you can just throw on.
Rixo strikes again! This time I’m hooked on their autumnal paisley prints, a trend that I think we’ll see a lot more of next season.
Tove’s stunning tie-up dresses are back in a new form, with ruched long sleeves and rendered in soft satins. This is whimsical and timeless, a real treat.
There are a couple of great denim dresses in this gallery. Why? Because they’re so chic and easy to wear. This cinched-waist style is elegant and will look good forever.
If your dress tastes lean towards vintage then you have to check out Queens of Archive. Their very retro styles are fun and quickly gathering a devoted fanclub.
I’ve collected a mini Ghost dress collection over the years for a reason: This brand is brilliant at creating slinky, flattering bias-cut styles that just skim over your body effortlessly. This new Alara style will have me channeling some kind of Lily James-esque 1940s character, perhaps with espadrilles and a little basket bag.
Okay, yes! This brings all the drama with its gathered neckline and voluminous sleeves, yet it seems oh so casual to fling on thanks to the dark colour and roomy midi silhouette. Personally, being 5’1”, I’d probably belt this so I didn’t drown in it, but I like the idea of wearing it loose á la the Olsen twins with flats and boho hair.
I always enjoy a contrast in a dress and this ruched number has it thanks to the pared-backed beige ruching set against those ribbon-like black straps. Cool.
It’s back! JW Anderson’s ultra-popular knitted midi dress has returned for autumn, and in a different colour: cream. So elegant, comfy and easy to re-style with different shoes and boots.
I know we are months away from a potential party season, but if I were being super-organised, this is the fancy dress I’d get.
Gingham? Tick. Ruched waist? Tick. Flounced hem? Tick. Embroidered jumbo collar? Tick, tick, tick. This little number has it all.
I almost can’t believe this is a high street dress. What a colour! What bodice! And you have to click through to see the lovely scooped back too. Gorgeous.
Marant’s autumn paisley prints are coming in and they’re lovely. Styled on the runways with chunky waist belts and cowboy boots, you can toughen up these pretty patterns or keep them light and sweet with strappy sandals.
Sustainable label Franks creates really demure dress styes that will stand the test of time. This navy polka-dot number is the kind of trusty number you could pull out every single summer without hesitation.
There’s nothing I don’t feel head-over-stompy-boots in love with: The vibrant green, the sweetheart bodic, the ruffled tiered, the volume in the skirt, the styling… be mine!
I have a black midi dress from & Other Stories’ first ever collection and I still wear it every summer without fail. So I would highly recommend any similar versions.
Never met a denim dress I didn’t like, but this is extra-great because it comes from conscious brand, Aligne.
I’ve become fixated on finding a perfect black mini dress to wear to the parties I’m really hoping I’ll attend later in the year. No other brand does them better right now than London-based 16Arlington, and plenty of celebrities would agree with me.
I am lucky enough to own this dress in black and it is even more DIVINE in real life, I tell you!
I have this Free People Oasis dress from a couple of summers ago in a hue that’s slightly more beige and I wear it on repeat throughout the warmer months. There’s a reason why FP are bringing it back time and again—this is a silhouette that flatters everyone and the swishy skirt and voluminous sleeves feel really luxe.
Don’t hate me for thinking about autumn trends, but there’s a big movement for modestly-cut knitted dresses and this is a very chic version I’d regret not having when the temps drop.
I’m not known for choosing short hemlines, but there’s something about these full-skirted Rhode dresses that make me feel more comfortable with the idea. The brand keeps bringing this silhouette back in different colours and prints, so I’m clearly not alone in my appreciation.
I’m a very lucky and spoilt person who managed to get hold of one of these dresses ahead of the crazy-big waiting list. Don’t hate me! Just trust me when I say this comfy, ultra-summery tiered gingham masterpiece is worth pracitising some patience for. Kitri’s dresses always fit my petite frame well, and I had plenty of wear out of this style in a plain orange linen fabric last summer, so I know it’ll have many days in the sun.
Talking of espadrilles and a basket bag, how perfect would this red sundress be with that accessorising formula? When I invest in more expensive dresses, I tend to gravitate towards plain, unprinted styles because patterns and motifs can date more easily. This has all the charm of a vintage piece with the modernity of something new and pared back. From the statement sailor collar (which extends so beautifully to the back) to the darted waist and frilled hem, this has many beautiful details that I’ll appreciate forever.
Owning multiple black midi dresses isn’t a crime if you pull them out time and again over the decades! So this tube style is definitely the kind that will always garner compliments and make an impact thanks to its asymmetric cut-out neckline, but it will also be timeless enough to feel wearable on repeat. I like how Weekday has styled it here with kitten-heel sandals and shades for a very ’90s take.
If you haven’t met Loud Bodies yet, then let me introduce you. Size inclusive, sustainably minded and actually stylish, this indie brand based in Romania is setting the bar so high, and other companies should really be paying attention. Even the scraps of fabric left over after the small team hand-sews these dresses are used to create pillows that are donated to animal shelters. I mean! I saw this dress in a brighter pink shade on Nicole Ocran and have been into it ever since. The sizing goes from XXS to 10XL, but you can also get in touch for free-of-charge custom orders if you have any specific requirements.
Australian designer Christopher Esber’s cut-out waistlines have become something of a phenomenon this year, and his summer pieces have been selling fast. The trend is set to continue well into autumn/winter (no, fashion people don’t feel the cold), and I think this cashmere-blend version does the look in a very sophisticated, subtle way (yes, fashion people are already thinking about shopping for autumn). Next up, these are the autumn trends we’re planning to wear. This story was published at an earlier time and has since been updated. Additional imagery: @hannahalmassi