After a two-year pandemic-enforced break, Wimbledon is back tomorrow. I’ve always loved Wimbledon fortnight – tennis is my favourite sport and Wimbledon is the most stylish of the grand slams, largely due to the traditions of the All England Club and its Royal patronage – it’s the only tennis grand slam with a strict dress code for the players who are expected to wear all white. Respecting the principles of tradition, history and style are what makes the English carry off their seasonal events so well – not changing for change sake, and upholding certain traditions that are important to the attraction of the event. (The most important of these are strawberries and Pimms, of course! 😉 ) Ahead of opening day tomorrow, here are eight Wimbledon-inspired dresses fit for a sunny day out at SW19.
If there’s one dress that screams summer it’s the little white dress. Simple, stylish and it looks great with a suntan. I love designs with a bit of broderie anglaise trim or frill to add a feminine touch, or button detail for contrast. Wearing white is great in summer as it reflects the heat rather than absorbing it so will keep you cool. The downside of wearing white is obviously that it is more prone to visible marks – so it will probably need washing more than other clothing. Wash as soon as you notice any marks – once they settle it will be harder to bring it back to its original pristine condition (particularly make up, sweat or sun lotion). Most of these dresses are cotton so will withstand a higher temp wash which is best for stain removal (check the care labels though – if there are delicate lace trims or linings hand-washing or dry-cleaning may be necessary). Adding whitening or brightening agents to the wash will help to maintain the brightness too. And if you leave to dry hanging outside then the whites will benefit from the sun’s natural bleaching rays. Here are some of my top picks available now for every budget. There are some great budget little white dresses available that look just as good if not better than some of the designer options!
This series of looks is for an Instagram follower who is attending all five days of the Henley Royal Regatta this summer and so needs a new outfit for each day! The dress code for Henley is one of the strictest around; not in terms of formality of dress, but in the enforcement of a certain skirt length. Women must wear a dress or skirt, and the hemline must fall just below the knee or longer. Even the royal enclosure at Ascot permits trouser suits and jumpsuits these days, so in this respect it is quite strict. In previous years it has posed problems, simply because this length of skirt has been difficult to find, mini dresses being much more prevalent. Midi-style dresses and skirts are everywhere now though, and modest styles of dress in general are much more fashionable over the last couple of years, so shopping for this style of dress is much easier now than, say, ten years ago. The style of dress, however, is less formal than ascot: you want smart summery dresses and straw boaters or panama hats, rather than formal dresses and statement headwear. For footwear I’d recommend a block-heeled sandal or wedge, which are far easier to walk in on grass and also go well with floaty dresses.
Henley is held from 4-8th July this year so the sun should be shining, but who knows what the weather will be like by July – we’ve had snow in spring this year, so I wouldn’t like to second guess what summer will bring! I would advise planning some sort of wardrobe cover-up in case the weather turns – a classic white blazer or lightweight wrap scarf are good additions to your Henley look, should the sun go into hiding.
This first look features two summery floral dresses: one pleated midi from Country Road, and one pleated maxi from Ted Baker. The Ted Baker “Nicee” dress is inspired by the beauty of an English garden and is the perfect style of dress for Henley.
Left to right: Floral maxi dress, Ted Baker; green earrings, Accessorize; pink drop earrings, Lola Rose; block heel sandals, Oasis; floral midi dress, Country Road; pink sunglasses, Accessorize; pink blazer, Mint Velvet; pink handbag, Zara.
Secondly I’ve featured a contrasting look: a khaki green maxi dress from Ted Baker. With a dark colour like this, I think it’s good to really make the most of the accessories to dress it up – gold or beaded sandals are a good idea, or a white bag.
Left to right: beaded hoop earrings, Accessorize; marble sunglasses, Riess; white cross-body bag, Furla; cross-strap slider sandals, Accessorize; khaki maxi dress, Ted Baker; ivory blazer, Reiss; striped clutch bag, Zara; tiered pendant, Accessorize; gold leather flat sandals, L.K. Bennett.
This is one of my favourite looks: a nautical blue and white stripe maxi dress from Michael Kors, or a polka dot halter neck midi with belt. These dresses will look good with either white accessories or a contrasting colour like coral or red.
Left to right: sunglasses, Bvulgari; white basket bag, Dune London; block heeled white sandals, Carvela; striped maxi dress, Michael Kors; striped sun hat, Phase Eight; statement earrings, Accessorize; coral bag, Coach; coral espadrilles, Kurt Geiger; polka dot dress, Michael Kors.
This look features another floral maxi: a vibrant coral/blue dress from Karen Millen, which I’ve matched with a choice of flats or a block heel, statement earrings and a summery raffia bag.
Left to right: beaded earrings, Accessorize; raffia bag, Zara; gold flat sandals, Office; sunglasses, Prada; floral pleated maxi dress, Karen Millen; silk/cotton scarf, Gerard Darel; nude block sandals, Dune London.
And finally this pretty pink lace midi dress from Anthropologie is perfect for smart summery outdoor events. I’ve matched it with a raffia bag from Zara and nude espadrilles.
And here are some more of my top picks for Henley dresses: