Each time I see a sundress I’m instantly reminded of childhood summers spent on a beach in Co Wexford; I remember vividly one particular dress in a blue cheesecloth fabric (I always wore blue, my sister pink), its itchy elasticated waistband, and straps tied haphazardly in uneven bows on my shoulders. When I was in my twenties, I wore a fantastic red sundress with a tiny ditsy floral print from H&M, which I belted over jeans and paired with flip flops. I loved it, and even now when I see photographs of myself wearing it, I still love it. I know, however, that even if it still hung in my wardrobe, it wouldn’t suit a woman of 42 the way it did a woman of 25.
So now I’m on the hunt for a grown-up sundress, a piece that will lend itself to a more sophisticated, paired-back style. Sienna Miller nailed the look on the red carpet in this corset-style white lace sundress (above). There was nothing “childish” looking about her outfit. In fact, it was sexy and pretty in equal measure. I’m not ready to risk wearing white lace this summer, but here are some sundresses that stand out for me right now.
I’m drawn firstly to the structure of this Mara Hoffman dress. The fitted, corset-style top half is chic and sexy, and provides the kind of support that most women want from a dress but find it difficult to get in a sundress. The midi length also brings a maturity to the piece – no knees on show for me please.
Organic linen dress, Mara Hoffman, €431 at net-a-porter.com
What you don’t want from a sundress is for it to look like it could be shrunk down and put on a ten-year-old. This backless dress from Warehouse is nothing other than grown-up, with its gorgeous open back. The subtle sexiness of the open back is balanced by the coverage provided by a halter-neck top and the tie-dye print, which is more flower girl than hot stuff. I love the unapologetic pop of contrasting red introduced by the cool sliders.
Dip dye halter-neck dress, €238 at Warehouse
I think the silhouette this dress creates is stunning. It manifests curves in all the right places, and the sexiness of the fishtail design is a nice counterpoint to the girlish florals.
Floral sundress, €150 at uterque.com
The deep shade of navy and satin fabric bring a maturity to this H&M sundress. The asymmetric ruffles also add a very on-trend and chic element to the piece, making it perfect for day or evening.
Satin dress, €49.99 at H&M
Holding shot: Getty