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Bring on the Buffet Dress (and sandals)

— by Alyson Walsh

Photos: Claire Pepper

One of the first challenges in the latest series of Sewing Bee was to design and make a Buffet Dress. The long, flowing frock with a relaxed shape that became a lockdown hit. Over the mini-heatwave this last week, I’ve pumped up the volume and opted for a big dress from Cotton Conscious. The joy of Peak Waftiness! (In fact, this is so wafty, I usually hold it in place with a cross-body bag). As someone who prefers faff-free simple silhouettes, I’ve never considered the gathered, flouncy style of many summer dresses to be my thing, and so it’s taken a while to get my head around going big. But you don’t know until you try  – and embracing easy-breezy frocks is a surefire of way of keeping your cool.

In an Ageless Style special yesterday, You magazine emphasised ‘wearing what you love at any age’ (thanks for the mention, editorial team!). ‘ When women tell me they can’t wear this or that, I ask them why,’ Jo Elvin wrote in her editor’s letter, ‘The answers are invariably about something they’ve decided for themselves, usually some sort of rule made up years ago.’ And I’ve noticed this, too. I did it myself with the Buffet Dress…

While I think it’s important to find the clothes that you like, items that suit your body shape and lifestyle, it’s essential to keep on experimenting. Trying out new shapes and silhouettes helps to reinvigorate our wardrobes, push the comfort zone boundaries (but not too far) and avoid a major style rut. ‘It’s made me realise how many women put up their own self-imposed barriers when it comes to fashion,’ Elvin continued. And, after many years working as a magazine fashion editor, I think this is true. We convince ourselves we cannot wear certain items of clothing without even trying them.

Time to give ourselves a style break.

 

I’m ever so fond of a buffet breakfast and hope that Covid doesn’t put an end to this splendid, shared dining experience. And let’s be honest, this is an occasion when you can wear what you like and so the dress doesn’t have to be the size of a Big Top. The simple A-line shape gives the same effect without the tent-like feeling, see also fit and flare styles, and T-shirt dresses. The relaxed, heading-to-the-buffet vibe can also be achieved by wearing your shirtdress unbelted, opting for frocks with gathered sleeves and a straight-up-and-down bodice ( I saw a cool woman earlier in a blue midi dress with puff sleeves and Birkenstocks), or a tiered skirt and fitted top.

My sporty sandals are from Suicoke, they’re like posh Tevas and the khaki colour goes with everything. The Buffet Dress and comfy sandals: good for walking and wafting.

 

More buffet dresses and summer sandals here:

 

*Please note affiliate links may gain a small commission

 

Style Notes: My dress was a thank you gift last year from Cotton Conscious. I sent Lisa Galibardy the designer a message over the weekend to check that the team were safe and well, because of the Covid situation in India. She said manufacturing is greatly reduced and many items on their website are sold out but they will be launching a Cotton Conscious range of jackets in a couple of weeks time, so please keep checking in.

 

 

 

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One of the first challenges in the latest series of Sewing Bee was to design and make a Buffet Dress. The long, flowing frock with a relaxed shape that became a lockdown hit.