If there is one trend that is set to dominate this spring summer, it’s floral print and in particular, the mid-calf floral dress.
This would normally be positive news, as opposed to pronouncements such as “crop tops are back” or “say hi to the wide belt” but florals are actually fraught with danger.
One minute a pretty floral dress says Daisy Buchanan, the next Mrs Doubtfire.
Florals can be super ageing, add kilos or just look faintly ridiculous. But if chosen wisely, they can be the most uplifting looks going, and a pleasure to wear.
Below, some tips to help to find the roses between the thorns.
1. Age matters
If you’re under twenty-five, you’re in safe territory as most florals will be flattering. Exaggerated elements, such as lots of flounces, pussy bows, leg-of-mutton puffed sleeves and tiered hems are better on the young, as the extreme girlishness can look silly on older women.
2. Accessories can make or break you
Be careful how you accessorise a prairie dress – a voluminous cotton floral dress with a pair of sand shoes and a sleek ponytail can say summer. With a straw hat it can also say, “Come on in now and quit playing in them cornfields and go wash your face before supper,” as you wipe your hands on your apron. Straw hats take a floral dress in a weird folksy direction – cue Nicole Kidman when she sported a floral dress, plaits and a sun hat on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
3. Beware the yoke
I was shooting a whole rack of floral dresses just this week on a tall, willowy model with a short Louise Brooks dark bob. We dressed her in a mid-calf floral dress with a crème lace yoke which was frilled from shoulder to shoulder and she looked absolutely gorgeous. I held the same dress up in front of me and the entire crew didn’t stop laughing for about 15 minutes. A yoke is really tricky, for so many reasons – they widen you, especially if you are bigger busted, they infantilise you, or they make you look pregnant.
The high neck, the yoke and the shoulder-to-shoulder frill are all reminiscent of the more modest styles worn by various religious groups, so if you don’t want to appear too chaste or conservative, you need to add a cool, Birkenstock-style sandal, a strappy high heel, or a statement earring. Even a floral shirt can look a bit stitched up and ageing – try pairing it back with jeans, or a skirt or pants in a clashing print to make it look modern.
4. Pick the proper print
Florals based on a black background are generally more forgiving on an older woman, as are prints that have a touch of the 30s or 40s era about them. Smaller prints, like a traditional Liberty floral, can look a bit prissy. Case in point is the label Brock Collection, which showed the most beautiful range of floral dresses in New York last week. Margot Robbie, one of the world’s most gorgeous women, only just pulled off one of the milkmaid styles this week. When it comes to florals, sometimes a posy is better than a giant bouquet.