The Multipurpose Summer Wardrobe Essential
Whether you’re planning a jaunt to the Cotswalds (maybe you met Pete Doherty in rehab, who am I to judge?) a vaycay in Miami or a staycation in Curracloe, there is one item you can’t afford to forgo – the summer maxi dress. Unless you want to look like the extra Vengaboy, forget tie-dye, polyester/lycra floral numbers and opt for quality material and structured details like this Peter Pan collar and form-fitting neckline. We all love a floaty number but if you want to keep it current, ditch the suede tassel bag and the floppy hat and say goodbye to your inner Rachel Zoe. Even Nicole Richie has moved on.
Floor Grazing, Shoe Gazing
Remember that one lad who lived on your block; the akwardness of Michael Cera and the charm of Donald Trump, who always had his trousers cut slightly too high above the ankles? His peers did not look kindly on his sartorial choices. Ankle-bashing is not a good look. Having made a criminal error in judgement during my school days by wearing barely black tights with my school uniform (who did I think I was, a Saint Laurent model?) this poor sartorial decision lingered with me for quite some time. If that decision was a sandwich, it would be egg. Girls who chose comfort over fit in the tights department were cruelly christened Nora Batty for the wrinkles of extra fabric that hung sadly around their ankles. Relevance? Ankles should be neither seen nor heard when a maxi dress is on the sartorial agenda. The only body parts that should be shown this season are the clavicle and the shoulders (fashion’s new erogenous zone) so cover those ankles up, you immodest Jezebel! Floor grazing (not sweeping, unless its Vetements, natch) maxi dresses with oodles of fabric, be it mille-feuille layers of tulle via Molly Goddard or transparent, appliqued gauze via Valentino exude romantic femininity in its most ethereal form. Anything short of below the ankle hints at an undercover ‘Brits in Benidorm’ exposé, so keep schtum of the 3/4 length style unless it’s a form-fitting ribbed number and you plan on wearing it with some Balenciaga Ceinture ankle boots and a hard-wearing backpack – think MCM or Alexander Wang.
Flip off, but a bird on it
Rule number one: Unless you’re in the shower area of the Ben Dunne gym, put the flip flops away. OK, there was a day when you were proud of your Brazilian flag Havaianas. But if you get wistful looking at a baby and you’ve inquired about the price of an Hermes bangle, it’s time to put away the flip flops. Keep it classy with some espadrilles, wedges or simple summer flats. Mine are customised by Isabel Gray who sells from 2nd Space Dublin.
On Duty vs Off Duty
The maxi dress can work just as hard as Jane Fonda in that workout; you just need to figure out your angle. Pair with a classic denim jacket and voila, you are nailing off-duty cool. Espadrilles and a basket? Perfect for a summer barbeque or the annual cricketing soiree sponsored by Pimm’s. Trainers and a fitted leather biker jacket – show them who’s boss. I’ve paired mine with these quirky flats and minimal jewellery from Capulet and Montague but add some espadrilles or wedges and your outfit gets an instant wedding-proof update.
I’ve spoken before about my dislike of the colour blue. Random but true. It is usually assumed that blue and blonde go together like Kristen Stewart and resting bitch face but I always feel like it highlights the pink tones in my skin and I end up looking slightly sow-ish. What? I never claimed I wasn’t dramatic. But I’ve worn this dress from Om Diva three times now and I can honestly saw I felt divine each time. The first was at an amazing event I had the privilege to attend. The People Speak was organised by Stephen Rea and featured a dream team of artists, actors, writers and musicians like Robert Sheehan, Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, Fionnuala Flanagan, Shane McGowan (I know!) and more and so many people complimented me on my dress. Good things have happened when I’ve been wearing this dress. So I’m coming around to the idea of wearing blue more often.
So, what have we learned? The maxi dress is not a summer wardrobe staple for no reason. Not only will it hide a multitude of burrito babies, it will allow you the freedom to start growing your leg hairs again. Hey, who could have predicted the brow revolution as sparked by Cara D? I’m rooting for a hairy leg revival.
Photos: Sean Moore
Makeup: Sarah Jane Lanagan
Concept and styling: Mary Cate Smith (me)
Dress: Om Diva (still available in white and pink)
Shoes: Isabel Gray at 2nd Space Dublin
Jewellery: Capulet and Montague at Om Diva
Bag: Thrifted from the Bernard Shaw Flea Market