For all the marquee and manicured lawn loveliness of summer event season, getting dressed for the occasion can be anything but. Even once you’ve found the perfect dress, there are shoes, jewellery, bag, make-up and, yes, underwear to consider. (And that’s before you’ve even begun to ponder the most contentious question of all: to hat or not to hat?) It’s enough to make even the most social of butterflies stay home.
But go out you must – and luckily there is an alternative to all that faff. Introducing the done-in-one dress, a zero-hassle design that’s equal parts effortless and fabulous.
Cut high on the neck with a nipped-in waist, long sleeves and floor-sweeping skirt, the done-in-one dress was out in force at the Tony Awards last month: Carey Mulligan in pretty-as-a-picture Giambattista Valli, Claire Danes resplendent in metallic Valentino, and Rachel Brosnahan in extravagant Dolce & Gabbana blooms. Grown-up rejoinders to the barely-there dresses championed by the Kendalls and Gigis, the trio delivered a timely reminder that you don’t have to show it all to be a showstopper. How liberating.
Picking up the modest mantel that’s been gaining traction for a while now, thanks to brands like The Vampire’s Wife, these dresses are a reminder that effortless doesn’t necessarily equate with understated. While their silhouettes might be reserved, the dresses are bold and vibrant – riotously coloured, with lush patterns and opulent detailing. It’s the simple cuts that allow these details to sing. As long as you can’t see the shoes (bonus: you could even wear flats), the punchy prints don’t need to be over-egged with OTT make-up and lashings of accessories. Simply put, the dress does all the hard work for you.
But ease is not the one-stop dress’s only charm. “A covered dress is all about the woman and not her figure,” says Sasha Sarokin, Fashion and Buying Director of The Modist. “A maximalist dress really brings the attention back to the woman: who she is and why she’s there. It denotes confidence. Wild print or a very bold colour allows a statement to be made that’s not around what her body looks like but what her choices are.”
And while they might be a no-brainer for after-dark, choose carefully and you can find one that works equally well for day. “I’m championing styles from Batsheva, whose designs are inspired by vintage Laura Ashley and Gunne Sax dresses,” says Matchesfashion.com’s fashion Buying Director Natalie Kingham. “Her collection explores feminine dressing with statement prints and requires little accessorising, which makes them an easy option for day and evening dressing. I like to wear mine with chunky boots in the day or a platform from Marni or Prada in the evening.” Similarly, just add knee-high boots to take them through to next season – you really don’t need to buy anything else.
Shopping: Sophie Henderson Photos: Getty Images