Photos: Claire Pepper. Dress Kitri, earrings, Toolally, summery heels, Madeleine

Work, weekend, wherever; when maximum Waft Factor is required there’s only one thing for it. Get your frock on. Swishing around in a summer dress is the way to go. At the All Points East Festival a couple of weeks ago, The Vampire’s Wife was trending. Festival-goers had opted for high-necked Victoriana dresses with attitude and slipped their Susie Cave frocks on. Around town, I’ve seen a multitude of shirt dresses with summer sandals you can walk in, or sneakers. And the M&S blue and white striped summer frock caught my eye at a gig last week, it looked lovely – and they are not paying me to say that (my collaboration with M&S ended a couple of months ago). I guess what I am saying is that dress codes have changed. Women are wearing all kinds of dresses for all kinds of occasions, relaxed or formal. Gone are the days when the high street was all sleeveless and skimpy, now we’ve moved into the era of ageless style, kaftan dresses, shirt dresses and floral maxis abound. All have excellent pull-on-and-go properties, and sleeves, and can be worn with a bra. What more do you want?

Sandria Plummer is a dress-lover. The 54-year-old executive assistant to the principal at a London university very kindly agreed to take part in the inaugural That’s Not My Age summer dress extravaganza. The first frock is the Kitri Titiana tie sleeve, Sandria’s verdict:  ‘I work in an old, Grade A-listed building with no air-con so I have to wear something that looks chic and will keep me cool. I like to look modern and pulled-together, and I’ve been seeing a lot of Kitri in the media, lately. It’s on my radar and could be good for work. Though I do like to dress appropriately for the occasion – and I’m not sure I’d wear this because of the cut-out back detail. I like adding a twist but tend to do that with jewellery. I love signature earrings, tribal pieces, Dior pearls and tend to layer up bracelets and rings.’

Beautiful Sandria in close-up
Zara dress, Mimi Berry bag, Toolally earrings and Jigsaw shoes.

Dress number two is a printed wrap style from Zara, ‘I could wear this to work,’ Sandria explains, ‘ it’s not a corporate environment and so I could rock a bold print. I’m known for my dress sense! But this lends itself more to weekend or vacation. I’d definitely wear it on holiday – and the Mimi Berry bag and raffia sandals from Jigsaw are really cute.’

Every dress Sandria tried on looked fantastic and so I asked what her secret was, ‘ I invest in good foundations, I’m not 17 anymore! So spend money on good undies. It can make or break an outfit,’ she explained. ‘I do pilates or yoga and work out a couple of hours a week. Your body changes as you get older and all weight ends up on your middle. I exercise and am conscious of what I’m eating, not fanatically though – I like a glass of wine with my mates. I’d say I don’t have a typical figure, I have broad shoulders, an athletic shape, slim hips and a disappearing waistline…’

Pleats Please from Menage Modern Vintage and A Weathered Penny earrings


Saving the best till last, the vintage Issey Miyake Pleats Please dress and wedge sandals are both from Menage Modern Vintage. This statement dress is Sandria’s favourite, ‘I love it! I love a bit of drama – not in an obvious Jessica Rabbit way, you can be  feminine in a more interesting way. It’s nice to wear something sculptural with beautiful details and this dress just jumped out at me. Clothes can be powerful, when I wear something like this I feel like I can do anything.’

And finally, Sandria’s style tip: ‘I always tell my girlfriends to spend money on clothes – don’t be buying Primark! I tend to buy stuff in the sales or go to sample sales. I’m lucky because I somehow got introduced to Daniel Blake and now own a few of his dresses. As you get older it’s important to shop less and buy better. Treat yourself a couple of times a year, and only buy things if you love them. If you’re not feeling it there’s no point.’

Get frocking!


Hair & makeup by Louise Heywood. Louise does one-to-one makeup lessons in her south London studio for ‘women who like to keep it subtle’.


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16 thoughts on “Summer dresses to suit every occasion

  1. I’m reading this on holiday in Southern Spain and am SO inspired! As a woman of colour and a massive fan of dresses, this article sings to me. Great work team! Lots of inspiration there.

  2. Sandra looks terrific in all her dresses. And all the other dresses you featured look like they’d be event-worthy and comfy. Good show!

  3. Stunning! Sandria’s looks along with her personality and confidence enhance her attractive outfits! Love her in the bold prints and bright colors!

  4. I really like the way Sandria looks in these clothes. Attractive woman relatable outfits. Good one Alyson for this series. I know quite a few dresses of this type. Good ones, not new ones, fling on and go dresses to be dressed up or down with different accessories and always for me bracelets and necklaces to add personality. This is what I’ve been wearing every day since weather warmed up. The one in your illustrations which really caught my eye is the mixed pattern Stine Goya dress really unusual print.

  5. Lovely article, Alyson, that made me smile. Great dresses….although I hardly dress up any more, living in Australia and semi-retired. Would love a piece on those throw-on, katany-y (but not muumuu-y!) dresses. I hate to say it, but that M & S blue/white dress looked to me like a dressing gown!

  6. You really hit the mark here Alyson! Sandria looks stunning but retains the air of a normal person and totally rocks every one of those dresses! Her smile helps of course. The guardian could learn a thing or two here, no matter how interesting the clothes, I can no longer bear to look at their row of grim faced models who look like they are facing a firing squad!

  7. The black pleated Issy Miyake dress from Menage Modern Vintage is in my opinion the best outfit – beautiful! I would go for a vintage designer dress every time. The quality just shows – as we see here! Angela

  8. These dresses are fabulous as is the make-up by Louise Heywood. Louise did my wedding makeup earlier this year and is highly recommended by me too.

  9. I never ever wear dresses. Ever. You need a climate that delivers tanned legs. Not happening here. But she looks great!

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