This is definitely a week for wafting. I don’t wear dresses very often but it’s sweltering in London and I am in need of a breeze. Hence, I’ve been looking at frocks in natural fabrics, with the Waft Factor AND with sleeves. Michele Oka Doner is an American artist and these uber-chic photos are from an old copy of Kinfolk magazine. Oka Doner works with organic materials to reference the natural environment, lives in New York and exhibits superb sleeve action. Growing up by the beach in Miami, this natural beachcomber moved to Manhattan in the 1980s, and says, ‘Nature is everywhere in New York…Working with organic materials and making things invigorates and enlivens the rituals of everyday life.’ There’s also a wonderful StyleLikeU video of Michele OD HERE.

So, where to find dresses with sleeves that score highly on the Scale of Waftiness? COS is our spiritual home and Toast has a fine selection of summer dresses and tunics in natural fabrics. The silk/cotton printed Ladakh dress is lovely and suddenly the Madras check linen maxi is very appealing.

                 Kin at John Lewis

Kin at John Lewis is a bit like COS with more accessible silhouettes; this coated linen dress (available HERE) could be good for a spot of wafting. This style is also available in a shorter, smock top version (available HERE) and there’s more Scandi-inspired Kin stuff HERE.

Waft away.

16 thoughts on “Wafty summer dresses with sleeves

  1. I love the interesting sleeve details I’ve been seeing lately, but I have to admit that some of these styles you’ve shown remind me of the mumu my mom (the 70+ model on my blog) bought when she was in Hawaii many, many years ago!! And I won’t let her leave the house in it…ha ha!!!
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

  2. I just cannot wear flowy dresses. Makes me feel fat. I’m 5’7″ and size 6-8. I love Jude Connolly dresses and Some JJill linen dresses but the ones tapered a bit. I live in hot South Carolina. Love your blog! Just because I’m 60 does not mean I have to dress matronly but I will not dress like a 30 year old either.

  3. Teaser title! I have been in love with her style for years, have a pinterest board devoted to her. I thought you actually found the source of her iconic outfit. I would buy one in every color if I could find it.

    1. Diane – I tried to find it too but it doesn’t exist. She bought the original from a shop in London that has long since closed down, then had the pattern copied and made into the same dress but in many different fabrics and colours. I was in New York last week and walked down the street she lives on – I was tempted to try to hunt her down and beg her for one!

      1. I would pay ridiculous amounts of money for a pattern. It is elegant, yet comfortable looking and with the leggungs it makes for a good travel outfit.
        In Seattle, we used to have a fabulous store named Opus who could recreate this but am at a loss. I gave a pinterest board dedicated to her marked MOK. I am sure I have every photo ever taken of her! So elegant!

  4. As someone who regularly catches the sleeves of her Chinese dressing gown (v wide) on the door handle, I can only imagine the hilarity that would ensue were I ever to don any of these. Wafty is very irritating, I find. Especially in the heat. I did, however, just find the most ravishing black (summer – of course you wear black) dress, sleeveless, simple but with exquisite cut and pleats at the back. Unfortunately I did not find the requisite dosh. ‘Twas ever thus.

  5. Not a dress but certainly wafts I’ve just bought a light cotton jersey jumpsuit with short sleeves and wide cropped legs in Gap. Breton style stripe Quite stylish at £25 with current discount.

  6. Love the photos of Michele – it’s not my style but it’s always fantastically inspiring to see women who have nailed the look that’s right for them. The other dresses – sorry but too many sack-shapes. Think you have to be Jean Shrimpton to wear a sack and look chic.

  7. Thank you so much for bringing Michelle Oka Doner to our attention. I googled her work work night and it is amazing. What a fantastic lady with immense style – her draping dresses remind me of a vintage designer (was it Mme Gres – could be wrong please correct me if I am). Great idea to wear cropped leggings underneath – that is my big problem with skirts/dresses (which I love) – optic white, thread-veined ageing legs – so not a good look. If anyone has good advice that does not cost a fortune on how to improve the visual look of legs like mine without surgery all tips would be gratefully received.
    PS Alyson – why are you posting – you should be on that holiday!!!!

    1. It is Mme Gres, Maudie. I saw a fantastic exhibition of her work, set amongst the sculptures, at Musée Bourdelle in Paris. Still haven’t booked a holiday! Must sort it out this weekend.

  8. So pleased that you’ve featured Michele OD! I came across her a few years ago when I was browsing in the art section in a library. She also features on my Pinterest fashion board! I adore the draping – for a petite person like me the option to narrow the silhouette at the waist probably helps, so as not to feel overwhelmed by fabric. Engaging blog!

  9. In recent heatwave days I did put on dresses and sandals. Far more comfortable. Smarter urban dresses are cotton linen mix or linen. Either elderly trusty garments or Oska dresses mentioned in an earlier post. Solution to excessive waft is to belt at waist or loosely on hips. This creates a more flattering silhouette. At home belt removed for a more comfortable feel. Re older legs I’m in my mid 60s so legs not at their best. I do exercise so there is muscle tone but also paint toenails and use fake tan on arms and legs. Best brand for me is Clarins lotion after their exfoliation. Fool proof without streaks. All models in these photos have tan legs. Easy to emulate. Apart from that one just has to get on with it.
    Re holiday idea Alyson I really like the French coastal resort of Arcachon one hour from Bordeaux. The city itself great too. Beautiful architecture good food shops culture. Trains to Arcachon. I’ve stayed recently at a hotel near beach on Pyla side of the town. Splendid beaches. The dune at Pyla to climb. Great seafood. Hotel also had salt water pool and treatments. Every thing one wants to be able to relax. I highly recommend.

  10. Can I give a shout out to Vivid linen? Gorgeous dresses, waft factor 10 & plus sizes too! My new fave place to shop!

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