I Tried on Over 50 Dresses, and These Are the Only Ones That Matter

Here at Who What Wear #UK, we’re all about delivering the latest and greatest shopping edits, as approved by our team. That’s why we’ve created a new shopping column, The Joy of Shopping, which will see me, Joy Montgomery, heading to all your favourite stores to test out new-in pieces IRL. From summer dresses to the brands you might’ve forgotten about, prepare for changing room selfies aplenty. Is there something you’d like me to cover? Make sure to tweet or Instagram me your requests!

There’s no denying that dresses have been our fashion catnip over the last 12 months. Of course, summer always means unearthing those flighty, shoulder-baring numbers that usually lie dormant in our wardrobes for the remaining nine months of the year (must do better, England). But, for some reason or another, the fashion tectonic plates have shifted, and this infatuation with the dress has continued into 2019 and shows no signs of abating.

While summer saw earthy hues and rustic fabrics, such as linen and cotton, proliferate, this season is all about long-sleeved, high-necked midi and maxi dresses that come in a plethora of prints and colours: Think Little House on the Prairie meets the moor-roaming Bronte heroine, with a 21st-century twist. Spring has also ushered in a renewed love for the mini: Far from the figure-skimming styles of old, these reboots feature roomy, smock-like silhouettes and supersized sleeves. From H&M’s finely pleated midi to Topshop’s flower power maxi, brands have delivered sellout look after sellout look—undoubtedly helped along by a few of our favourite Insta stars—which means there’s plenty to choose from.

It’s all very well us suggesting the latest must-have look, but sometimes we’ve got to put our money where our mouth is and go out and try things on for ourselves (even for seasoned shoppers like myself, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by choice). So, to save you precious time (but, let’s be honest, not money), I’ve decided to return to the subject of my first shopping column and try on all the dresses you need on your radar right now. Scroll down to see and shop the 18 looks I tried on and would recommend.

Style Notes: First things first, the fabric of this dress feels unbelievably expensive—it’s super silky and hangs like a dream. This is just the piece you need for your summer holiday, or if you’re in the city, I would recommend throwing over tailored trousers. Get in my wardrobe, please. 
Style Notes: I’ve seen Rotate’s dresses numerous times on Instagram, but never tried one on IRL. Overall, I was pretty impressed. Obviously, it’s not super cheap, but this is a serious statement piece that will be perfect for any important party or big event. This might just convert me back to minidresses again.
Style Notes: My fellow editors couldn’t quite believe this was Topshop when I showed it to them. The patchwork floral print is so distinctive and feels sufficiently ’70s-inspired when paired with the floaty sleeves and long skirt. Light and airy, this maxi is the ultimate dress-up-dress-down summer piece. It’s not available online yet but shop a similar style below. 
Style Notes: Unfortunately, they didn’t have this in my size (hence the shapelessness), but I had to include this Whistles midi in my edit, as I fell in love with the print, which cleverly incorporates spring/summer ’19 neon but with a grown-up finish. Ideal for both work and play.
Style Notes: Dorothy, eat your heart out because I have found the dreamiest gingham dress. I found the fit so flattering thanks to the gentle v-neck, nipped-in waist and balloon sleeves. I like the idea of wearing it with tights and loafers for spring. Also, the buttons are excellent. 
Style Notes: I never would’ve gone for it previously, but over the last month or two, green has become more and more appealing to me. This silky wrap dress from Topshop really stands out with its vibrant hue and asymmetric fit. It’s not currently available online, but here’s a similar look.
Style Notes: Another winning minidress, but this time from H&M. This is just what I need for my summer holidays: light cotton, longer-sleeves and adaptable for both casual- and formal-wear. The ruffled detail also makes it look so high-end.
Style Notes: Yep, Ganni’s cult midi is back, but this time in springtime yellow. Everyone was obsessed with this look last season and now I can certainly see why: The balance of fitted, wrap-tie waistline and oversized sleeves is a real winner.
Style Notes: This polka-dot dress is so simple yet manages to tick all the boxes. I think the wrap style will flatter so many body types, and I also like how the fabric is slightly textured and not at see-through. Note: If you’re petite up top, I would size down.
Style Notes: The leopard print iteration of this pleated midi sold out within a week of its first online release, so I expect big things from this abstract print version. Like the animal print original, the finely pleated skirt feels so luxe, and I can imagine wearing it with platform heels for a spring wedding.
Style Notes: I’ve seen so many smock-style dresses around recently, and I like the way this one combines a little bit of prairie dress detailing. This is perfect for those wanting to cover-up up-top without looking too frumpy. The style isn’t available online, but I’ve found a similar look below. 
Style Notes: This confused me quite a lot when I first tried it on: It’s essentially a black T-shirt dress with a sort of silky printed apron layered over the top. But I have to say that the effect is pretty chic and a fun option if you’re not into girly styles. 
Style Notes: This is a classic Whistles shirtdress that is sure to work super hard in your wardrobe. I wouldn’t usually go for this shade of blue, but I can imagine dressing it down with a pair of chunky lace-up boots. Yes, it needs a steam.
Style Notes: If you’re not loving the boilersuit trend, this khaki H&M is a fab alternative, as it packs all the utility vibes but in dress form. The fabric is fairly thick, so it’s less good for high summer but perfect for spring. 
Style Notes: This daffodil-print midi is quintessential Shrimps, and it’s all I want to wear in the warmer months—preferably with a box bag and patent Mary Janes. The only downside is that the bodice is relatively fitted, so less good for larger busts. (Note that that is my bra showing through—it’s not the dress!)
Style Notes: This is no ordinary polka-dot dress. I’m obsessed with the knotted detail, which essentially acts as a more interesting alternative to a traditional waist tie. I also like the green hue, which is perhaps a more approachable alternative to Topshop’s silken midi. 
Style Notes: I was immediately struck by the dramatic silhouette of this H&M wrap dress, which paired so nicely with my knee-high boots. This is the sort of dress that lends itself so well to layering, whether it’s over trousers or with a roll-neck base layer. It also has quite a roomy fit, so it’s perfect for bigger busts (it’s also a bargain.)
Style Notes: Oh, Rixo, how did we survive wedding season without you? Zebra is having a moment in the spotlight right now, and this maxi dress combines its vivd print with the more traditional fit of a tea dress.