Entertainment Style Kirstie Clements: Sold on the perfect summer dress. Oversold, actually
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Kirstie Clements: Sold on the perfect summer dress. Oversold, actually

A passerby wears, a red and white floral print flowing dress, a brown leather Prada bag, holds a white paper shopping bag and a protective face mask, on July 11, 2020 in Paris, France.
As the weather warms, the search for the perfect summer dress intensifies. Photo: Getty
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A friend and I were walking around the park today, talking about how to lose our COVID kilos and the new spring fashions that are beginning to assault our in-boxes.

The beautiful weather we’ve been having in Sydney certainly had us thinking about new summer dresses, and I have been doing some research.

According to my calculations, there are about 20,000 styles to choose from and about 95 per cent are age inappropriate for me, and my friend. We are in our fifties, and not reed slim. That immediately cuts out any dress that is tightly waisted, sashed or belted.

We began to unpack what we wanted. The huge puff sleeve with a sweetheart neckline is still very prevalent, but we felt it was too much of a statement for us, with that Disney princess vibe that is hard to pull off. There are a lot of open-back dresses with sleeves, sometimes tied with a bow across the shoulder blades.

I don’t know what my back looks like, in fact I’ve never seen it, but I don’t think this is the decade it should go on public display.

There are also lots of dresses that come in a tiered, trapeze shape, and fall mid-thigh or just above the knee, which my friend and I agreed can look childish – and we don’t like our knees anyway.  I loathe caftans, but posited that maybe that’s just me? No, my friend was in firm agreement, she bought one last year and apparently headed straight into mumu territory. “I have the photos to prove it” she groaned.

Button-through linen shirt dresses made us perspire just thinking about them. Small floral prints, like Liberty, are ageing. Large floral prints are challenging. Flounces and Peter Pan collars and yokes and frilled hems can be too sister-wife. Neither of us want to show our upper arms. We don’t want floor length, as my friend is petite and long lengths swamp her. I don’t want metres and metres of fabric either, as I get hot and it piles up between your legs when you sit down. We definitely did not want shirring across our ample bosoms. The options were dwindling.

The ‘mattea dress’ ($465) ticked all of Kirstie’s boxes. There was just one problem. Photo: Bird and Knoll

I had a vague, hopeful idea that there was a dress in a lightweight yet polished cotton, with a mandarin collar, with three-quarter sleeves, slightly full for ease of movement, but not too puffy. I would be mid-calf length, and not too voluminous, it would just skim over the bust and hips, and hide the tummy. There would not be lots of tiers so it looked all boho and hippy (maybe just two or three, which would render it a bit more Italian Riviera chic), to wear with an espadrille or a gladiator sandal.

It would come in white, but not white – more of a creamy white. It would absolutely come in black. There may even be a pink version, a dusty pink, so it looked expensive, not lolly. It would be by an Australian designer, as we were definite that we wanted to buy local and we also want to know who made our dress, and that it was not made in a sweatshop. We also did not want to pay too much.

I found it online, by the way. This perfect perfect dress. Bird and Knoll. It was sold out in every size.

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