The quick solution for the fashion interested but time poor, Kat Farmer on how to wear a mid-length dress
When the fashion gods align it’s a wonderful thing, but I’m not going to lie, it’s not something that has happened for me too recently. At the beginning of the summer I quite fancied one of those midi skirts that came wafting down the catwalks in February, but have found that unless you have a washboard stomach they really don’t work so well – nothing like a high waistband to make your middle look a bit oozy.
And then what do you wear on top? Tucking in shirts and t-shirts means adding bulk where no extra bulk is needed. And then you need to think about length, shape, colour etc.
Finding the perfect top is hard and it’s not just reserved to skirts. Culottes, wide leg trousers, even jeans these days – tops to match can be ridiculously elusive (and don’t get me started on shoes). Whilst we’re on the subject of jeans, every style goes – skinny, straight, vintage, flared. The issue being if you’re a magpie like me, every style does go. Onto my credit card and into my wardrobe. I am a veritable denim expert (I have over twenty pairs), but when every style requires a different sort of top and pair of shoes? Sometimes that just becomes too much effort.
And so this is why, for the first summer in years I have explored another option. My solution for the fashion interested, time poor and non abb-ed among us. Dresses. More specifically midi dresses.
Maybe it’s because my mother used to wear one, but to me mid-length frocks have always felt a bit “ladies over a certain age”. Growing up in the 70s and 80s, they were an every day staple in the middle aged womans’ wardrobe. But then, there they were on every catwalk from Milan to new York and suddenly they are back “in”. Au contraire.
Here’s the thing, they are easy to wear. No more concerns with knicker flashing – midi dresses are designed to hide your modesty, knocky knees and any dodgy fake tan issues. Super versatile, they are the ultimate throw on with bare legs and sandals (& Other Stories have the best flat sandals on the high street this season, whilst Zara is currently great for strappy heels – see edit below). As soon as the weather turns slightly cooler, substitute sandals for boots and, when your legs start to resemble a plucked chicken, just add tights. I have already bought a pair of green suede lace up boots from H&M and am eyeing up the suede Chelsea boots at Mango. If you go for a button down dress you could try wearing it open as a swishy jacket over trousers.
Of course there is the height thing. I wont pretend that it isn’t an issue but midi dresses aren’t necessarily only for the tall. It is very much a question of trial and error but there are some great petite high street ranges which offer midi styles that won’t drown you (Asos and Topshop are particularly good). A length that tends to work on most legs is one that hits slightly above mid-calf – just under your knee – rather than true midi. That being said, go with whatever you’re happy with. The only rule of thumb I stick to is to leave a few inches of skin showing between the bottom of my dress and my shoes – I find this stops midi length looking dowdy. If in doubt a pair of block heeled boots or sandals works wonders – just a bit of extra lift but still walkable.
There are masses of midi dresses on the high street right now, some of the best I’ve found are from Warehouse, Finery and Mango. I’ve been wearing several variations solidly for over a month and have found them pretty much perfect for every occasion – work, lunch out, school run, weekends or parties. Dress them up or down. The one item wonder, that just needs a pair of shoes and perhaps a jacket (my tip is a biker – if you haven’t got one, invest immediately, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without one).