June 19, 2014

best sundresses for the working girl

"Cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms. Highs today in the upper 80's"
Translated: hot and muggy.  So how to best dress without wilting into a limp biscuit on the way to work (stressed), during work (chilled), after work errands (sweaty and tired)?

Think crisp. Floppy flowy dresses and skirts are lovely for a stroll in the park on a weekend but not ideal for work.  Why a dress? Because if you're feeling frazzled, a bit chaotic, stressed, the second you slip on a dress, zip it up -  it pulls you together. The feel of the zipper closing automatically straightens the back. Shoulders down, neck long, stomach tucked in and off you go out into the world. It really does make a difference.

Here's what Jess Carnter-Morley has to say on the subject:

"Crispness – a certain humidity-defying starch – is the way to add glamour to summer clothes. Shirt collars, utilitarian in other contexts, are elevated in the midday sun to something much more aspirational. Think of Audrey Hepburn in her pert, short-sleeved shirt and knotted silk scarfin Roman Holiday, a look echoed by Gwyneth Paltrow's wardrobe in The Talented Mr Ripley. The best sundresses take a pinch of that 1950s, shirt-and-full-skirt formality, and transpose the look into a dress, which is cooler to wear and slower to crumple. Being neither too bare around the shoulders nor too short makes for a dress that is all the more versatile for being a bit smarter."

We agree. Everything Jess has to say on the subject is invaluable advice for the working girl. You don't want to be too short on the hemline nor too bare around the neckline. Crispness is the key with materials like stretch-cotton, matelassé cotton-blend, silk-twill, cotton-silk blends, jacquard and jerseys ideal for the job and keeping form until you kick off your shoes and flop onto the sofa with a sigh of relief in the evening. Not to forget: you'll want a sweater with you as most offices shiver with supermarket-like subzero temperatures. 

The Cashmere vs. cheap debate: Now, it's easy to say: get a cashmere sweater. We know they cost way more than those sweaters at H&M. We know. But. But, you can own cashmere for under $200 or euros. Believe me, you will notice the difference. Remember to store with lavender pouches. And keep it dry-cleaned. Moths prefer cashmere to H&M too!

Follow Lola Channing's board Working Girl on Pinterest.

Favorite online source for reasonably priced dress shopping: theoutnet.com  Great deals to be had on my favorite go-to-designer for eternally classic, well-made dresses, Jil Sander as well as tons of others. Another hot tip is COS, an anglo-Swedish label (parent company is H&M) and the place for an affordable working wardrobe. Ideal for those affine to a forward-thinking Scandinavian simplicity. 

Otherwise, go forth and shop at your favorite boutique. It pays to have a go-to boutique that sends you alerts when favorite items go on sale. We are advocates of live-shopping although, granted, in the summer, it's often hard to make a case for venturing out in the blazing heat during your lunch break. 

A suggestion: if you are on holidays somewhere in the south of France or in Italy, during your evening strolls through lavender-scented streets, wander into some of the boutiques. You'd be surprised what fantastic city wear some of these sea side boutiques have hidden inside. 

for the entire article in the Guardian summer dresses
photo courtesy of Sophie for Lola 

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