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The re-entry dress: The answer to lockdown what-to-wear woes

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As we emerge from our homes, and interact with friends and family, while battling with the changeable summer weather, thoughts naturally move to what we should wear. For the past six months, shopping may have centred more on food and face masks than clothing, but by now you may be craving something new. Something that doesn’t come with a stretchy waistband, perhaps?

Yes, lockdown may have its loungewear, but as we speculatively step out into the wider world and figure out how to dress for it all again, there’s an answer to your what-to-wear woes – the little black dress.

Fuss-free, fool-proof, and versatile, the LBD (that’s little or long), never really goes away, but this summer, it’s the ultimate social re-entry dress. A palette cleanser in the usual summer sea of bright hues and prints, its clean, elegant aesthetic reinforces its wear-anywhere properties, making it an ideal option for staycationing, work calls, or small gatherings with friends.

Dress, €77, Topshop
Dress, €77, Topshop
Dress, €296, Sleeper, Net-a-Porter
Dress, €296, Sleeper, Net-a-Porter

Generally synonymous with the winter season and more slinky, abbreviated styles, on the ss20 catwalks designers such as Valentino, Victoria Beckham, and Versace, proved the permanent staying power of the LBD, but, also how it’s a worthy contender for warm-weather dressing. The ease of an LBD as a throw-on-and-go style for summer was reinforced by Daisy Edgar-Jones in BBC drama Normal People too.

With our social lives shifting from weddings and festivals to gardens and beaches, more casual styles of LBDs like Marianne’s have naturally become the most popular re-entry dress. Smartly, the inky shade conceals stains, and loose silhouettes make it easier for lounging, while most importantly being comfortable. These practical details are reflected in the modern riffs of the classic that have filtered into the high-street stores. LBDs complete with interesting details, textures, all crafted in airy, lightweight fabrics can be found in Topshop, & Other Stories and H&M.

Stylist Ingrid Hoey says: “Usually in summer I’m all for the LWD, that’s little white dress, but this year I bought a summer LBD from H&M and it got so much wear, it was short, floaty dress with statement shoulders.”

And if all the Zooming has shown us anything, it’s the power of business on top and dressing from the waist up. Carry that lesson through when choosing an LBD, and opt for a breezy style with an XL, larger-than-life sleeve or oversized collar. According to global fashion search engine Lyst, demand for balloon sleeves are up 40 per cent, while searches for oversized collared dresses is growing fast. Other style details to keep an eye out for are square neck, broderie anglaise, smock, and open back. Looking forward to winter leather dresses will be key so you can easily snap one up now in faux materials.

Linen dress, €69, + Other Stories
Linen dress, €69, + Other Stories
Dress, €55, Topshop
Dress, €55, Topshop

Further proof, should you need it, of the LBD’s 2020 summer status is the fashion elite have already adopted the dress in their wardrobe rotation. Take Copenhagen Fashion Week, which operated a part-physical and part-digital schedule this month attended by editors, journalists, buyers, and influencers. Usually awash with pop prints and standout shades, this season, LBDs had a substantial presence, as show-goers stepped out in an elegant array of dark and stormy styles. Other adopters of the LBD this summer have been Vogue Williams, influencers Monikh and Bubbly Aquarius.

But what the new-gen re-entry dress has captured is the return to classic, timeless, considered buys that answer a need in our wardrobes, but also spark some joy. Far from boring, the re-entry LBD has been reworked to become a stylish workhorse, and every-occasion piece, even if it’s a limited pool of occasions, that will work for now and later too.

Dress, €89, + Other Stories
Dress, €89, + Other Stories
Dress, €79, Arket
Dress, €79, Arket
Dress, €39.99, H+M
Dress, €39.99, H+M

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