The smell of summer is finally here and while there’s much to enjoy about the heatwave, the ‘events season’ also brings its fair share of sartorial challenges. Looking at the dates piling up in your calendar can make even the most frugal shopper suddenly feel the pressure to go wild on the AMEX and buy a whole new short-sleeved wardrobe. And that of course, is part of the fun. However, over the years I’ve started to realise that the brand shiny new outfit that you just had to have for a specific event isn’t always the best wardrobe investment….

Living in close quarters (ahem, any London apartment) then inserting a baby into the mix makes one extremely careful about what is kept and what is recycled. And all too often the pieces I’ve bought on the spot (normally in a panic buy, highly stressed scenario) are relegated to the ‘to toss’ pile. And sometimes, they weren’t cheap. Of course, there are always going to be designated events and milestones that you have to buy a dress for—I’m not suggesting that you spin a reissue for your wedding day or similar—however, pressure purchasing rarely results in a style home run. Aside from the sustainability implications, the older I get the more I appreciate the power of a truly timeless buy and the less inclined I am to buy anything for one occasion and one occasion only.

Left: Valery Dress £250, Jack Sneakers £125; Right: Lucille Clutch £85, Olivia Sandals £275

‘The older I get the more I appreciate the power of a truly timeless buy and the less inclined I am to buy anything for one occasion and one occasion only.”

My summer event season wardrobe is more like a greatest hits compilation than hot new album. There are golden oldies in there along with latest releases and it’s got to a point where dresses are very nearly vintage. Over the years of collecting outfits, I’ve found several commonalities in the pieces that continue to make the cut. Firstly, fit is king. If you aren’t actually ever going to get that dress to a tailor to make it fit, my number one advice is to leave it on the hanger. If an outfit doesn’t make you feel good in the fitting room, it’s never going to make you feel good. Secondly you need the wow factor. That doesn’t mean that an outfit needs to be loud, but it needs to have something really special, be it a print, design detail or unusual colour combination. When I say timeless, I don’t mean blandly classic; just not so of the moment that you’re going to feel dated wearing it by the end of the summer.

Left & Right: Eve Dress £425, Tabitha Sandals £195

“What most appealed to me about this new line is the fact that these dresses might have been bought five years ago, or five years in the future.”

Henie heels £250

The outfits that accompany this post are all part of L.K.Bennett’s new ‘The Season’ collection. My relationship with LKB is now over 15 years old. I worked in the Edinburgh store while I was an undergraduate at University and accumulated far too many kitten heels (it was 2003—just proves that things come around again quicker than you’d think) all paid for with the wages that were ostensibly meant to be going towards my student loan bill. The brand is synonymous with the Great British Summer and all the racing/boating/wedding events of the warm weather months—basically if there’s a combination of champagne and grass, you’ll find LKB.

Here I’ve styled three of the dresses in a couple of different ways and next year you can be sure that there will be a whole new way to spin them.

What most appealed to me about this new line is the fact that these dresses might have been bought five years ago, or five years in the future. None of them are blah—they all pack a punch in terms of print, colour, fit and design, and they all lend themselves to versatility which means double, triple, quadruple wears. Here I’ve styled three of the dresses in a couple of different ways and next year you can be sure that there will be a whole new way to spin them. Whether it’s your shoes, accessories or beauty you can completely switch up the attitude of a dress.

 

Start building a collection of pieces that you can rely on to work for every dress code and to make you feel great at the same time.

 

My biggest piece of advice when it comes to shopping for a summer event is don’t wait for the invite to arrive. As the gorgeous new pieces drop into store, make an exploratory shopping mission and try on everything you love without a deadline looming over you. When you fall for something which meets all the criteria above and it’s within your budget, buy it. Start building a collection of pieces that you can rely on to work for every dress code and to make you feel great at the same time. That way you’ll find that recycling pile suddenly becomes far sparser and you always have something to wear, no matter what the summer occasion.

Left: Elisa Flats £185, Right: Montana Dress £295, Above: Avril Sunglasses £145

This post was created with L.K.Bennett as part of a paid collaboration.