Why a black dress will be the best thing you'll wear this summer

Posted by
Billie Bhatia

Black has often been disregarded as a colour to wear during the warmer months, but we make a case for it to take over your wardrobe this summer. 

The idea of a summer wardrobe and the reality are two very different things. The first glimmer of sunshine makes us wholeheartedly believe there are sun-soaked months ahead. Being British, we should know better, but our sensibilities are overruled by the optimism of flouncing our summers away in seersucker blouses, white broderie anglaise dresses and pristine linen co-ords.

That is until we are brutally hit with facing the realities of summer dressing. Those being: an uncomfortable commute with someone’s back sweat lingering dangerously close to our personal space, our clothing’s ability to crease without us even moving, the threatening splatter from a brightly coloured salad (leftovers from the Instagram-approved BBQ hosted at the weekend) and, worst of all, the inevitable make up stain on our top as we use the same hand to mop our sweaty brow as we do to waft our burning bodies.

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The solution to all this is glaringly obvious, but social norms and a subconscious feeling that it is ‘wrong’ means that wearing a black dress in the summer has become something of a taboo. It’s considered too heavy, too sombre, too reminiscent of winter and too absorbing of the sun’s rays (did you know it also absorbs your own body heat?) for the supposed joy that summer sparks.

Well, we are tearing up the rule book and declaring a summer black dress a safe and incredibly stylish place to find yourself this season. As we all know, with great power (see rule-book tearing) comes great responsibility, and we would not being doing due diligence on your wardrobe if we didn’t unpick the complications of tackling summer black.

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First up, find your fabrics. Avoid leather and nylon at all costs. Linen, cotton, light chiffon and even lighter silk are your friends as they let you skin breathe- and you’re going to need it. Speaking of skin, for your dress to reach the upper echelons of success there needs to be some on show: a slash across the shoulder, a slit up to the knee, a low back. Let your sun kissed skin be seen.

Accessories will make or break this look. For a work, ditch suits and make raffia, straw and tortoiseshell you dress companions. If it’s a more ‘summer in the city’ version you’re after, try layering stacks of gold jewellery on wrists, necks and lobes, and pair your black dress with barely-there sandals or simple slides.

Even occasionwear just got lot easier, because sweet relief you can wear black to a wedding. Make it work with a bright beaded bag, a colourful satin headband, a slick of red lipstick and your dress stress will be null and void.

It’s a revelation, right?

Here’s our pick of the best black dresses to buy now for summer days and summer nights.

Summer Days

  • Jaquemus La robe Asola

    Wear this strapless drapped dress with strappy sandals and gold hoops for daytime summer drinks.

    Jaquemus La robe Asola, £610

  • Simply Be Bardot Black Beach Dress

    Perfect for the beach, this Simply Be dress should be paired with neutral raffia accessories.

    Simply Be Bardot Black Beach Dress,  £12

  • Rhode Nala ruffled cotton-poplin mini dress

    It’s a sign of summer when tassels and pom poms start to be seen on dresses. Rhode have added a plaited tassel belt to this strappy mini dress.

    Rhode Nala ruffled cotton-poplin mini dress at, £240

  • Ganni Broderie Anglaise Dress

    Broderie anglaise is not just for white dresses this summer. Wear this Ganni dress with a bright slip underneath to add a pop of colour.

    Ganni Broderie Anglaise Dress, £370

  • COS Voluminous-shape cotton dress

    The square neckline has returned for spring/summer 2019. Wear this COS dress with chunky Birkenstock sandals.

    COS Voluminous-shape cotton dress, £79

  • & Other Stories Linen Blend Wrap Mini Dress

    Stack gold bangles on your wrists to wear with this wrap mini dress.

    & Other Stories Linen Blend Wrap Mini Dress, £59

  • Ninety Percent Tencel cross-back slip dress

    The Nineties trend is going nowhere this summer as highlighted by this cross back slip dress from Ninety Percent. Finish off the nod to fashion’s current favourite decade with some white trainers and a bucket hat.

    Ninety Percent Tencel cross-back slip dress, £90

  • Hobbs Maggie Linen Dress

    Pair this ruffled sleeve dress with black greek style sandals.

    Hobbs Maggie Linen Dress, £119

Summer nights

  • Rotate Birger Christensen cutout satin maxi dress

    A bright heel and mini drawstring evening bag are the perfect partners for this cut-out back dress.

    Rotate Birger Christensen cutout satin maxi dress at, £300

  • Mother of Pearl Emmie Jacquard Dress

    The pearl detailing on this Mother of Pearl dress means its the perfect evening choice this summer. Wear with pearl earrings and flat shoes.

    Mother of Pearl Emmie Jacquard Dress, £795

  • Oasis High Neck Midi Dress

    Oversized chandelier earrings are the perfect pairing for this Oasis high neck dress.

    Oasis High Neck Midi Dress, £55

  • Topshop Square Neck Slip Dress

    Wear the shoe of the summer with the dress of the summer; pair this nineties slip dress with barely there sandals.

    Topshop Square Neck Slip Dress, £35

  • Nanushka Lily belt sleeveless dress

    Tortoiseshell accessories and multiple mini hoops will make this belted dress stand out.

    Nanushka Lily belt sleeveless dress , £340

Opening image courtesy of Victoria Adamson. 

All other images courtesy of the brands.