Photo: Dvora @fashionistable

On a short work trip to Stockholm for a few days, I have these three items with me: the maxi dress from People Tree’s V&A collection (now with added breakfast down the front), white leather trainers to take the edge off and a mini cross-body bag from LK Bennett. Perfect for fitting a phone, purse, cards and passport in. But not the travel plug that I left at home – and so I had to buy a replacement. Twice. Once is annoying. Twice is downright careless. Moving on. The not-too-dressed-up-dress in a floral print is a little bit boho-y, a lot more feminine than my usual Gentlewoman Style but in post-holiday transition mode, it’s a step up from a kaftan. The not-too-dressed-up-dress is the kind of thing Erdem, Dolce & Gabbana and Isabel Marant do really well – and at the less extravagant end of the scale: Finery, Warehouse and Boden’s slightly longer length Jessica dress. In the middle there’s increasingly popular Rixo London.

Easy-breezy, everyday and modern is the aim.

33 thoughts on “The not-too-dressed-up-dress

  1. Toast also does this kind of dress very well. I just bought one in burgundy needle cord, with a kaftan neckline. Suspect I’ll wear it loads, maybe even Christmas Day!

  2. I love the dress, what would you wear over it in case the weather suddenly turns chilly, that’s my problem…. 🙂

  3. Now, I love this look but standing at 5′ 2″ it just doesn’t work for me! Anyone have any dress options?

    1. I am quite short too; someone once advised me to use the kind of dress which you wrap around your waist, like a cache coeur or Diane Von Furstenberg dress

  4. Such a comfortable outfit for summer in the city. And the added advantage that breakfast and any other accidents don’t show! I’m impressed you can manage with such a small bag.

  5. Gosh Alyson, I think you look FABULOUS in this dressed down dress. It totally suits your style. You’re really wearing it perfectly and it isn’t wearing you (which is how I feel floral prints are on me). I’d love this with boots and a big scarf and coat for winter too.

  6. I have a bunch of shrugs in colors, cotton, cashmere and linen that bunch up or fold into a tote with your book. It’s like a sewed up poncho pashmina. They are everywhere in the US and great for travel. I love this dress and I think it makes you look tall.

  7. Dress suits you well Alyson. A change from the denims. Hair looks excellent I like the length and blunt cut. Where was this stylish photo taken. Pose against the architecture really works.
    I have dresses of this type. I tend to belt them loosely. A jacket can be any army green type if proportion right or denim jacket or even a cardigan or bolero type jacket as long as proportion works with hip waist and skirt length. One just had to play around with what seems to look right on oneself. And the prevailing proportions. Skirts are dropping. In cooler weather matt coloured tights would work or boots be they tight fitting knee length or ankle or calf length. Again one needs to play around.

  8. A dressed-down long dress is exactly what I have come to as my Very Hot Day uniform. Somehow to a tomboy, the length feels comfortable and right. Also the all one fabric, simple silhouette, etc. You look great. and comfortable, and like you.

  9. This is a fabulous trans seasonal dress too. I have something similar that I wore for a weekend in Paris last year. Paired the dress with M&S velvet trainers for day & switched to black strappy sandals for the evening, easy peasy!

  10. Honestly, I’m getting keener and keener on the notion of travelling with dresses. Thinking ahead to a six-week trip to Italy and France in December/January which I’m hoping to do with carry-on only, I’m leaning toward the simplicity of dresses. Yes, that will mean giving up variety, but I’ve been gradually letting go of that demand in deference to ease, simplicity, and editing. . . Not sure I will be able to manage it, because of the weather, but thinking in that direction. . . .

  11. Funny, seeing this on a hanger, I might not think this would look so good on you, but it does! It’s a very nice print and length, and feminine but not dainty. Comfortable!

  12. The post inspired me to buy such a dress. I got the pale blue floral from H&M £49.99 for my 60th birthday present to self.
    It is a few inches above the ankle on my 5′ 3″ frame and looks great with white or silver trainers.
    It reminds me of the vintage dresses I had in the late 70s

  13. What a great look, I love the dress…..I’m travelling to London at the end of August from Melbourne and would love to check out this dress or something else similar. Are they sold at the V &A?
    You always look fabulous and comfortable with how you look!!
    Joanne ryan

    1. I agree with you, Sue. I am late in the game as far as wearing athletic shoes with dresses. Just not my esthetic.

  14. Just a travel tip that I have found helpful. Check with the hotel’s lost and found. They often have the travel plug that some else left behind. They will usually let you borrow it while you are there. Never hurts to ask!

  15. Hi
    I can relate to the idea of this post of having simple lightly tailored dresses – so much more comfortable than stiff fabrics such a crepe or linen AND easier to maintain.
    My mother used to have ‘wash and wear’
    dresses ie dresses that were comfortable, easy to maintain but looked fresh and flattering. Now probably considered to be ‘Retro’!
    However, although the style etc looks amazing in the photograph it would overpower my small frame/height – you would see the dress not me.
    A plainer shorter less voluminous style is on my wardrobe shopping list
    Just my thoughts.

  16. Love the look, Alyson! Totally together but not ‘trying too hard.’
    I thought long dresses were not for me as I’m just over 5 feet, until I got a printed silk Jean Muir kaftan for £50 on ebay recently. The cut is superb: it skims without clinging and moves beautifully without too much flap. I wear it with sandals in the day and not-too-high heels in the evening.

  17. That would look great on me. And for our warm autumns (Lower Midwestern US) it would be superb. Inspired by your dress above, today I wore a long skirt and a blouse. I never wear skirts! But I did today. And no one died. I felt pretty darned pretty. 🙂

  18. Alyson can you write something about Alex Shulman posting a bikini selfie. And at the age of 59 too !!! Met her years ago via other Vogue journalists in 1990s. All now moving on to bigger and better careers hopefully. Alex herself is the author of several quasi autobiographical novels and non fiction 100 Years of Vogue book. No doubt she will publish more. Why so much attention to this particular Instagram photo. On the topic of longer looser dresses and non bodycon dressing you beat the Guardian to this. Longer long sleeved dresses featured yesterday.

  19. I am not SUPER short or small framed, but I still find I am small enough to be really overwhelmed in big flowy dresses and shirts. My solution, when I like the dress or top, is to check out the armholes and bust size. I find I can often size down (which I never, ever could with a fitted garment or with a skirt) such that the garment is still a bit flowy and yet fits nicely.

  20. I agree with Kathryn about sizing down if too floaty. With a bosom and being medium height and size it can be unflattering. Some dresses I’ve had darts put in waist at back only so they still hang loosely at front but don’t flare out too much. Alternatively loosely belted on hips so there is still plenty of movement. I wouldn’t look good in the dress Alyson is wearing but she looks a treat in this photo with this architectural background and the cool leather tennis shoes. Her style exactly and youthful to dress down the feet.

  21. You look great (as always) but am I allowed to say that, personally and with total respect, I prefer your ‘Gentlewoman’ style?

  22. The dress is pretty enough on you Alyson but. Id drop the trainers ,l.cant get my head round tennis shoes with dresses – not off court no matter how modern, li’l old fashioned me. At Art school we wore fine leather practice ballet shoes – Sooo pretty, they don’t last long – but nor does fashion, and you don’t look as though you’re trying too hard. Me… give me wedges any day though l may get some more ballet shoes

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