How to choose a dress that works all year round

Lisa Lennkh

These are the things to look for when choosing a dress that you need to work for all the seasons

I'm a strong advocate for buying less, but buying better. Whether it's a pair of summer sandals, a sundress, or a dress to attend a wedding, I avoid buying anything in the "fast fashion" category—mainly because if I like something enough to spend my money on it, I want it to last. It reminds me of the Maya Angelou quote: "When you know better, do better." Well, I think when you know better you buy better.

Here's a real life example where spending a bit of time thinking about my investment in a new dress paid dividends. I recently needed to buy a dress in the "occasion wear" category. While I wanted to buy something new and festive, it felt deeply wasteful to buy a dress that was just going to hang in my wardrobe gathering dust once the wedding was over. So, I set myself the goal of finding a dress that would be perfect for a destination wedding and that would work well for future summer beach holidays. A lot of you may find yourself in similar situations, so I thought I'd let you know my criteria for a truly versatile dress.

First, the right dress should go well with heels and a clutch for the event, but it should also work with sandals and a big hold-all bag for its second life on a beach holiday.

Second, it should be in a colour that's versatile for you and where you live. For me, pastels are too limited to warm weather, but a bright bold colour I can wear year round.

Third, the fabric needs to be an all-rounder. If it's too shiny (like silk or taffeta) you're really restricted to occasion wear. Who wants to worry about sunscreen on silk? I hate to be precious about what I'm wearing. Ideally, you also want a fabric that packs well and doesn't crease.

Fourth, you want something that isn't overly trendy. Instead, go for something fairly classic. Those cold shoulder cutouts may look good now, but in a few seasons, they'll be very dated. It sounds like an impossible list of criteria, but I was spoiled for choice! A good shift dress or maxi dress in a faff-free fabric is available almost in any high street shop. I narrowed my choice down to this Grecian, one-shouldered number, and I'm confident it'll serve me for many summers and events to come.