For several years now, summer fashion has been dominated by one particular dress: the floral midi. But for 2023, there’s more depth of choice than just a bloom-printed frock. The classic staple has fallen out of favour with retailers. In February, British department store John Lewis declared the death of the floral midi, with the fashion director Queralt Ferrer saying: “That was one of the main items that we thought we’ve got to move on from. It’s not easy because customers love them, but it’s a trend that has been around for too long, and they were everywhere.” And then comes the clincher: “We want to give people a reason to buy something new.”
The floral midi is seen as a done-in-one dress that requires minimal styling and effort, but can still wow – no wonder it’s highly regarded as a go-to for everything from the office to occasionwear. So fear not if you’ve a wardrobe full of them; you’ll get plenty of wear out of them yet. But what are the options if you’re looking for a fresh look this summer?
Personal shopper Isabel Gleeson believes the floral midi dress is “timeless”, but has some tips for those seeking an alternative. “This season, let the shape of the dress do the talking rather than the print. Asymmetric hems and 3D florals are in, and brands like Solace have a huge variety of unique shapes.”
Not just for the festive season, sequins make an elevated and glamorous statement, ideal for a stricter dress code. “Where the sequin trend usually falls away in December, this SS23 is different, and we will see softer, pastel sequins and metallics at events this summer,” Gleeson adds. “Silver is key!” Selecting shimmery dresses or separates in a softer, sweeter palette perfectly ticks the summer sparkle box and ensures it’s less Christmas party and more chic warm-weather soirée.
Another shade often regulated to colder weather is black, but it shouldn’t be. Black dresses with elevated, interesting details like lace, embellishment and prints can be occasionwear appropriate for summer, too.
In contrast, full-throttle colour comes in every shade imaginable and every silhouette – from sleek jumpsuits to tailoring. Dopamine dressing was a phrase banded around post-pandemic and cheerful designs are everywhere, with zingy shaded dresses taking up the mantle from florals.
While a dress in a fun silhouette or shade is generally a timeless option, mood-boosting tailoring is also a clever choice if you have dress fatigue. Not only will you avoid the same-dress drama, but you’ll also be able to incorporate the pieces into your existing wardrobe and style them up beyond the occasion.
“A suit with a waistcoat is also a must-have for this season, thanks to The Frankie Shop’s viral waistcoat look. You can get plenty of wear out of this look where you could dress it up for a special occasion or dress it down for a Friday in the office,” says Gleeson.
Eider Leite, a personal shopper and stylist, also believes the tried and tested floral midi will always be a style winner, but agrees that tailoring is a stylish alternative.
“Midi florals for summer weddings are fabulous and fresh. But if you want something different, block colours, stripes and wide-leg trousers paired with a soft fabric top are amazing too. Not forgetting a tailored or oversized blazer to give power and an edge.” Consider the suit’s material to ensure you look dressed for the occasion. Silk, satins and even pretty prints will ensure the tailoring is more occasionwear than office.
Co-ords work similarly to tailoring, with separates that can be styled up post-party. Opt for a co-ordinating dressy top and skirt; when paired together, they look like a dress and have the exact details, like a puff sleeve and draped neckline, but offer more versatility. Similarly, a sleek top and tailored trousers can mimic a jumpsuit, making it an elegant occasionwear option that can be worn again and again as separates.