Where clothes are concerned, the Indian Summer we were lucky enough to enjoy lulled me into a false sense of security. According to provisional Met Office figures, September 2021 was the second-warmest on record in the UK. Where I’m lucky enough to live, October was pretty mild, too. All of which means I had a pretty nasty shock when the temperatures dropped sharply at the beginning of this month. I was, frankly, unprepared. And once again, I’m faced with the daily dilemma of trying to find something suitable to wear! My outfits need to be smart enough for client meetings, yet warm enough to withstand wintry weather. They also need to be a teensy bit forgiving in those problem areas where the post-lockdown weight gain seems to have settled. A sensible diet and exercise is most definitely working – but I’m not quite back to my pre-Covid best yet!
As many of you will know, I’m a big fan of summer dresses. Fast to throw on, unfailingly flattering, and suitable for almost any occasion, they are my go-to ensemble when the weather is warm. But while many people reach for the tried-and-trusted combination of trousers, boots and woolly jumpers when the mercury drops, I find all that somewhat high-maintenance. After all, separates can be so needy. So I’m advocating a different approach this season. Fabulous frocks aren’t just for summer! Read on to discover my curated collection of winter dresses. There’s something for every body shape – and every sartorial situation.
I adore Aspiga. If you haven’t come it across it before, it’s a responsible brand that prioritises sustainable and ethical fashion. It partners with artisans and suppliers – primarily in Kenya and India – to create contemporary, stylish clothing collections using natural, organic and sustainable materials.
First on my list of must-have winter dresses is this gorgeous Dulcie wrap dress. Made from soft, silky, sustainable TENCELÔ satin, this maxi long-sleeve dress feature two front splits and a soft tie at the waist. It’s available in two colourways, a bright teal and my favourite, this black, patterned print. I think the shape and the style are just so versatile. This outfit could be dressed down for day with boots and a leather jacket, or elevated for evening with heels and gold jewellery.
As a fabric, TENCELÔ has so much to commend it. It’s made via an environmentally responsible production process. The fibres, derived from sustainable wool sources, are biodegradable under industrial, home, soil, freshwater and marine conditions. These same fibres absorb moisture more efficiently than cotton, keeping your skin cool and dry (useful if the peri-menopause or menopause is causing hot flashes!). Lastly, these fibres create a soft, flattering drape, skimming lumps and bumps for a smoother silhouette.
Winter dresses don’t have to be black – and florals aren’t just for spring! I must admit I’ve already had a few compliments while wearing this White Coco Onjenu Roma Maxi Dress. Semi-structured, it’s stretchy yet supportive, with a slash neck and a clever draped band across the waist that manages to hide a multitude of sins! I love the eye-catching floral/dragon print, which combines shades of jade green, buttercup yellow and olive, on a classic navy background. The full-length sleeves gently gather into cuffs, which cut down on draughts (and being dragged through food). Best of all, this is one of those rare winter dresses that incorporates not one, but two side pockets! I’d buy it all over again in an instant – I have no higher praise.
Katy Denne at White Coco tells me: “If there’s a year for owning a bold, vibrant, life-affirming maxi dress, this is it. The challenge is finding one that is flatteringly designed by clinging in all the right places and gently draping itself over the others, that has maximum “wow” impact & minimum laundry maintenance and that folds up into virtually nothing making her the perfect going-away-somewhere-special piece. After all….you deserve it…”
I’m staying with a navy/pattern theme for my next offering: this Fairy Tale Floral Print Navy Blue Tiered Maxi Dress from Oliver Bonas. The flowing, floaty style flatters all sizes and shapes. I especially like the maxi, tiered length of the loose-fitting A-line skirt, and the practical elasticated cuffs. Made from 100% viscose with a cotton inner lining, this easy-care dress is machine washable – on all levels, it’s the opposite of needy! Apparently, it gets its name from its colourful tones which are reminiscent of a fairytale storybook illustration. Where winter dresses are concerned, I think it certainly falls within the ‘happy ever after’ category.
At time of writing, I’m eagerly awaiting delivery of this next fabulous frock. I couldn’t resist adding this Drusella Green number to my collection of winter dresses. I love animal print, but sometimes it can look a little OTT. However, this green zebra motif is eye-catching, but not too outré. I think this would work well as either a day or evening outfit, depending on accessories. This dress comes with a black tie belt. But I do like how it’s been styled here, with a brown buckled belt and boots. The thin shoulder pads create extra shape and structure, adding to the tailored effect. The included black modesty slip provides extra coverage (plus warmth!), and helps to prevent static ‘clinging’.
Emma Bees, the owner at B, tells me: “We have loved the move to Zebra print this season as it’s just a mix-up from the classic leopard print, which we all adore. The belt trend has come back to styles of looser fitting knitted dresses and midi dresses too, and it allows you to layer up but still cinch in at the waist and feel feminine. You can easily style these sorts of dresses with a black leather jacket or wear it with a chunky knit.”
If you’re searching for a winter outfit that’s warm, comfortable and chic, may I recommend this Roll Neck Sweater Dress from Hush? The soft, relaxed fit drapes beautifully without swamping. It’s ideal for those miserable winter days. The ones when you can’t be bothered to make a huge effort, but still need to look nice. The charcoal marl shade is an endlessly versatile neutral. I would pair this with some good tights and a pair of knee-high boots (flat or heeled).
Ah, Boden, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…This brand so rarely disappoints, I could have chosen any number of winter dresses from its latest collection.
Green is definitely enjoying a moment this season. And this Evelyn Jersey Midi Dress is such an easy way to tap into the trend. I wore it to this year’s Decorex event in October, and it felt smooth and comfortable all day. Made from soft, jersey fabric, this semi-fitted style is nipped in at the waist. I think it gets a little extra oomph from its slash neck and elasticated cuff sleeves. Did I mention there are side pockets for extra practicality? I’m a big fan of this nature-inspired print. But solid block colours are also available if you prefer your winter dresses to be plain.
No round-up of winter dresses would be complete without one show-stopping party frock. Feast your eyes on this Black Luxe Velvet & Sequin Midi Dress from Sosandar – perfect for Christmas soirées! I promise you it’s much easier to wear than it might look. It features stretch fabric and elastic for a relaxed, glamorous feel. It’s a great style if you don’t want to flash too much flesh. The subtle cowl back detail gives a glimpse of what lies beneath, while still keeping it classy. The sequins mean that no additional sparkle is necessary, so you don’t need to worry about any co-ordinating accessories. Simply pop on your favourite pair of heels (black or metallic work well), plus a slick of red lipstick. Then, you’re good to go!
Keen to stock up on casual clothes for winter weekends at home? Click here to discover my best buys in ladies loungewear