Summer of the perfect IT dress

Summer of the perfect IT dress: FEMAIL reveals this year’s flattering must-have styles

  • Style expert Shane Watson revealed this summer’s must-have dresses 
  • She claims popular styles will have hemlines that fall below the knee 
  • She says styles will be practical, flattering and feel less exposed 
  • Shane shared a selection of striking colours and prints from the UK High Street 

Every summer has its dress moments — Marks & Spencer’s startling-pink flute-sleeve midi dress caused a stampede last year — but this summer is different.

And the difference is good news for grown-up women. Because this is the year of the Versatile It Dress (or VIT dress) — dresses that are genuinely, astonishingly, every woman and all-occasions wearable.

For once, it’s not about that one dress that everyone kicks themselves for not having spotted on the rails in Zara or M&S.

Shirt dress, £200, Studio by Preen at; Heels, £39.50,

Now, as you can see from the crackers on these pages, there are plenty to choose from: bold and bright, pale, floaty and interesting, or (our favourites) the fresh floral print.

So, let us count the ways in which the VIT dress scores ten out of ten on the useful and desirable-ometers . . .


In other words, it’s ankle-grazing. (Or, in the case of the Preen for Debenhams blue and yellow floral shirt dress, near right, with its eye-catching handkerchief hem, it manages to have both a longer and shorter hemline.)

You can’t overstate what a relief this is. For years, every pretty dress out there was too short to wear anywhere but the beach.

The VIT dress is longer, but leanish, elegant and never frumpy. The length is what makes it so chic and easy.

Dress, £49,; Sandals, £295, russelland; Earrings, £85, merola.


Because the weather is not always heatwave-roasting hot.

Because we feel safer and less exposed with a bit of arm coverage.

Because a dress with sleeves is a dress that can take you anywhere — from lunch to a wedding to outdoor drinks — without you having to find just the right cardigan or a jacket that suddenly makes you look a bit ‘nanny knows best’.

It wasn’t much to ask for, and now our wish has been granted.

Practical, flattering and, sometimes — as in the case of Essentiel Antwerp’s off-white and black design (third from right) — with dreamy sleeves that make you feel like dancing.

Dress, £299,; Heels, £265, russelland


That’s the real bonus of a VIT dress. It’s multi-occasion friendly.

You don’t need to add a wrap or jewellery to boost its charm, or hunt down just the right type of underwear. It does all the work and makes your life easy. 

All you have to do is decide whether you’re in the mood for floaty chinoiserie on a sweetly sour lemon backdrop (see the Hobbs dress, above, third left), or more inclined to go bold in blue (see every fashionista’s favourite Whistles wrap dress, above, second right), and then add the right shoes for the occasion.

Dress, £200, Ganni at net-aporter. com; Slingbacks, £185, russell and bromley. com

It’s just the right amount of pretty

Because we like to look pretty, but not in a fussy way, and the new VIT dress has just the right balance of elegance — clean, wearable shapes, without an overabundance of distracting detail — combined with feminine prints and colour.


As OUR pictures show, you can wear the VIT dresses with flat loafers, heeled sandals or a high court shoe, depending on the occasion and your preference.

For example, Topshop’s floral, flared-sleeve dress (above, second left) is paired here with smart, strappy sandals, but would look as good with relaxed cork wedges.

Dress, £260, essentielantwerp. com; Heels, £265, russelland 


The classic wrap has always been the comfortable, flexible dress style of choice. Wrap dresses suit everyone.

Plus, the patterned ones — such as the stunning collared floral wrap dress by Diane von Furstenberg (above, far right) — have a way of camouflaging you just where you need it most, nipping in at the waist and then skimming over the stomach and hips.

If you can’t face the idea of a print, Zara does a lovely, plain blue linen wrap dress (£39.99, you could pair with espadrilles to see you through the summer holidays.


The VIT dress is perfect for now, but it will last until Christmas (at least). It may sound too good to be true, but you will be wearing the darker-print dresses with tights and boots come October. These are keepers.

Silk dress, £249,; Slingback heels, £29.99,; Clutch bag, £140, Cult Gaia at

DVF dress, £242,; Shoes, £109, kurt; Bangles, £175 each, merola.

Styling: Emily Monckton

Photographs: L+R

Hair & Make up: Bethany Rich

Model: Bobola at Wild London 

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