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. Being British, we should expect unpredictable weather, 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 the realities of summer dressing. Those being: usually an uncomfortable commute with someone’s back sweat lingering dangerously close to our personal space (we haven’t missed this), our clothing’s ability to crease without us even moving, the threatening splatter from a brightly coloured salad (leftovers from the socially-distanced BBQ 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.
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.
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 work, ditch suits and make raffia, straw and tortoiseshell your 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.
It’s a revelation, right?
Here’s our pick of the best black dresses to buy now for summer days and summer nights.
Etsy is an ideal place to find vintage treasures. Unique, one-off pieces no one else will have – we’re sold. You may want to be speedy to get your hands on this effortless shirt dress.
Crafted from this lightest silk, Kalita have made a name for themselves as the go-to for chic summer and holiday pieces. Consider this the ultimate black dress investment buy.
Perfect for the beach, this Simply Be dress should be paired with neutral raffia accessories.
Proenza Schouler White Label
A contrasting stitch manages to transform a simple dress. A button-down style will go the distance in your wardrobe.
Halter necks and maxi lengths are back. Bringing with them all the nostalgic vibes, we can’t get enough of this summer frock by Nigerian brand, Mie.
This shirt dress has an underrated detail: pockets. Making any dress have instant style points, this shirt dress will see you through many seasons. Note: it’s also made from organic cotton.
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Stack gold bangles on your wrists to wear with this wrap mini dress.
Tiered dresses are key this season, and this style has won our hearts. You can get the same contrasting stitch fabric in a jumpsuit, top and skirt, too.
It may be a splurge, but you’ll own this LBD for the rest of time. Style up or down, we imagine you’ll find countless opportunities to wear it.
If you like a slinky fit but don’t want to look too dressy then this logo strap dress is the one. Giving a nod to the 90s, it’ll also look just as good with fresh kicks.
A lot of us are ready to start dressing fancy for any occasion we have coming up. This slinky slip dress will see you through every special occasion.
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Backless dresses are big news this summer. Worried about not wearing a bra? Fear not, this style has a tie bow at the back so you can wear a bra and all straps will be covered.
Opening image: Victoria Adamson.
All other images: courtesy of the brands.