Sustainable dresses to buy this summer

Jenessa Williams

With lots of people moving towards more consciously eco-friendly lifestyles, it's time to include your clothes in the equation

For many of us, non-essential shopping has lost its pizazz during lockdown, concerned about the safety of online orders and the impact it might be having on both workers and our wallets. In many ways, this might be a good thing—a chance to break unnecessary fast-fashion spending, and an opportunity to appraise and appreciate what we already have lurking in our closets. 

However, as the country starts to tentatively expand back into normalcy, now might be the time to put a little boost back into the economy and a quality-over-quantity wardrobe. While you might not necessarily need to go wild on the re-opened high street, a well-chosen investment dress from a suitable retailer might be just the ticket for your socially-distanced picnic or a governmentally-permitted wedding event. Styled with the best accessories from some of our eco-conscious favourite brands, these frocks of the season will last you long into the future.  

 

Statement gowns 

Fancy making an impact? A bold print is just the way to do it. Chosen well, a statement gown will last you for many seasons—look for prints in colours that suit colour palettes you’re already comfortable with to make accessorising easier.  

Fair skin tones look beautiful in icy greens and blues, while warmer skin flourishes in pinks and reds. Floaty fits and graduated hemlines feel breezy and comfortable without exposing too much flesh, but curvier wearers may want to choose a belted style to best accentuate their shape.  

When it comes to accessories, keep things simple. Gold jewellery tends to look more summery by nature than silver—lift the look by choosing an unusual shape. Block colour accessories also add interest but can be reworked time and time again with other wardrobe pieces, offering much better cost per wear.  

 

Outfits from left to right: 

Baum Und Pferdgarten Dress (£219), Essenthelabel Heel ($199), Stella McCartney Tote (£615), People Tree Earrings (£16) 

Fenoel Dress ($428), So Just Shop Ring (£29), Just Trade Palm Earrings (£40), All Kind Vegan Suede Shoes (£215) 

Ganni Dress (£205), Marianna Deri Tie Belt (£77), Brother Vellies Clogs ($595), Vavvoune Bag ($495)

 

Formal staples 

For those more inclined towards minimalism, there are three types of dress that will last you forever—one floral, one block colour, and one monochrome. For a late summer wedding or at-home celebration, these styles all look great with a more paired-back colour palette, sticking to tones in the same family rather than an out-and-out clash. 

To get the best out of your forever frock, look for 100% cottons, linens or lyocells, a eucalyptus-produced fabric that involves comparatively less water, soil and pesticides to farm. Single or lesser-colour fabrics also require less dye, making them kinder on the planet.  

 

Outfits from left to right: 

Reformation Floral Dress (£305), Little By Little Pendant Necklace (£125), Kayu Design Shell Clutch ($245), Immaculate Vegan Sandals (£86) 

Mother Of Pearl Fringed Dress (£295), Aaks Online Pom Pom Bag (£150), Swedish Hasbeens Maggan Dress (£85), Artisans & Adventurers Nova Ring (£35), Julia Otilia Wooden Bangle (£24.95) 

Filippa K Belted Dress (£151), Yala Jewellery Necklace (£70), Mashu Handbag (£290), Mesa Slingbacks (£219) 

 

Casual pieces 

Eco-friendly casualwear is seemingly the fastest growing market, with numerous high street brands offering “conscious” edits that incorporate bamboo, hemp or other sustainable fabrics.  

Although this is a promising step in the right direction, it is still worth checking in with supply chains to ensure your eco-dress really is as friendly as it sounds—The White Stuff, Sea Salt and Lucy & Yak are all great staple brands that offer clear sustainability information on their websites.  

For day to day-wear, team your dress with a sturdy pair of trainers. Veja and Komodo are leading the charge with their styles that incorporate vegan leather, natural rubber and re-configured plastic bottle and fishing net waste.  

Unusual materials also make great quirky accessories—Kula Salford’s reinforced paper backpack is stylish and chic, while So Just shop’s bangle bracelet makes ingenious use of computer motherboard parts.  

 

Outfits from left to right: 

Gung Ho Design Seabird Shirt (£120), White Stuff Pinafore (£59.95), Lucy & Yak Bag (£20), Veja Trainers (£115) 

Komodo Hemp Dress (€75), Everlane Denim Jacket (£72), Komodo Trainers (€57.50), Kula Salford Backpack (£35), So Just Shop Bangle (£18.99) 

Birdsong Wrap Dress (£165), baggu Bag (€34), Nomadic State of Mind JC Sandals (£59),  Unicef Recycled Paper Bracelet (£17.50)  

Read more: 5 Ways to make your beauty plastic-free

Read more: Eco-friendly period products


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