Photos: Claire Pepper

What’s hot right now? We all are. But hasn’t this summer been brilliant? I went up north to visit family and friends in Manchester and Blackpool and we had four days of glorious sunshine – a scenario not experienced since the legendary heatwave of 1976. As for the World Cup final, well, that’s been even longer but we are still IN the competition. And I am very proud of our young squad and our dignified manager Gareth Southgate. Anyhow. Looking for something to keep me cool and flush-free for a panel event last week, I succumbed to the shirtdress. Having worn a silk maxi dress to a meeting a few days earlier, I felt a little crumpled and too holiday-ish. Admittedly, it’s hard to keep your cool in this heat, but crisp, cotton poplin has both the waft factor and the work factor. The Shirtdress of Dreams is from Joseph and was greatly reduced at over 60% off in the sale. (I found mine at Liberty, it was literally the last one on the rail but is still available/ more expensive HERE). It’s a beauty and has smartened up my summer act, no end. Like a typical shirtdress or shirtwaister this has a tie belt, one that can go back and forth:

The heat has gone straight to my sausage fingers


The faff-free Toast shirtdress below is in a much heavier cotton drill fabric that’s too heavy in a heatwave but good for running around in on cooler summer days.

Nevertheless, this is the summer of the shirtdress. Only natural fabrics are acceptable in a heatwave; carry a bottle of water and a small fan and try not to overheat when your football team ends up in a penalty shoot-out. Fingers and toes, people.

Style note: leather frame bag is a few years old and from Ally Capellino. The shoes were loaned from Grenson, for the shoot. More summer dresses HERE.

Have you succumbed to the shirtdress?


22 thoughts on “What to wear in a heatwave: it’s the summer of the shirtdress

  1. I’m a Brit living in Australia and I’ve found that British clothes just aren’t cool enough when it gets really hot. Even clothes that should be fine tend to be too heavy or have fibre content not conducive to a heat wave. I suppose it’s such a rare event in the UK that designers focus on clothing suitable for people who want to dress for summer but not feel cold, which is normally the case!

    I hope you all manage to stay relatively comfortable and enjoy the sunshine ( and the glory of the World Cup).

  2. I’m with Nicola above as I’ve often visited my daughters who both live in Bondi Beach, NSW Australia. The coolest fabric for me is very fine cotton lawn or better still, viscose. Many T- shirt fabrics are too heavy especially in this current heatwave in the UK. My coolest dress is an old Masai brand vicose maxi/long dress with long side slits. Perfect. Cooler then my many linen (next favourite) dresses. Cotton by contrast is stiff, crumply, and not flattering except when first tried on. When linen creases it is still comfortable and continues to look OK in a good way. I wore linen when I lived in Singapore mny years ago. But if I had a choice I would chose viscose. It’s a clever fabric which is partly natural and partly manmade and hangs beautifully – much better than cotton.

  3. This is exactly what I love about summer—the dresses that make is so easy to get dressed. Even my mom (the 80+ model) on my blog would love this one because it has sleeves!!

  4. You are wearing quite the nicest bag I have seen in a very long time. I must stop reading your blog; just recently, I have wanted nearly everything you post about. (Also, the Toast bargain dress looks very good on you.)

  5. I really love both dresses, but especially the striped. And also your sunglasses, what a fabulous shape! (I’m also loving the football, and like you immensely proud of the team and their kind and decent manager!). Thanks for this feature, I’ve been thinking about a shirtdress for a while, now I definitely have to have one!

  6. Am a huge fan of shirt dresses. Thanks to you, that gorgeous Toast dress your wearing is winging it’s way to my house as we speak! x

  7. Another excellent look on you Alyson. I really like this crisp looking striped shirt dress. And the cool shades and pistachio leather bag with dark Toast dress. As for shirt dresses I have several. Good for throwing on and wearing without faff. Wore my stripy Zara one to my Manchester event at Whitworth. Lovely weather there and city gleaming in sunlight. I’ve also been wearing several tablecloth weight linen dresses. Old but goodies by Oska and Jigsaw. Very wash and wear and cool to throw on. Today’s is a burnt orange linen cotton knit with rare edges from an Oska sale two years ago. Belted with narrow leopard belt and silver sandals plus bracelets. Effortless and comfortable.

  8. Gosh Alyson you look incredible! I love everything about this outfit from the earrings and sunnies down. I think I have an obsession with the striped shirt dress in general. It’s so chic yet super easy to style and always cool. Effortless and comfortable is my mantra these days since I’m now living the New Jersey summer 😉
    I may be tempted to add this Joseph sirt dress to my collection…

  9. How I wish I could wear dresses like this as I love dresses in the summer. However anything with too much fabric around the middle just does not do me any favours . . . and spongebob square pants comes to mind 🙁
    I think the trick is to be just over 5′ 8″. My friend is just these 2 little inches taller than me, and these look fabulous on her. So I am afraid I stick to just a little fit to help.

  10. Agree with Kaye above – I’m 5’3″ so most dresses with a waist are rubbish for me 🙁 And the fewer buttons there are, the better, as far as I’m concerned – yes I’m one of those odd folks who doesn’t like them. But a nice, loose dress has got to be the coolest item of clothing this summer – on both counts…

  11. Cotton is fabulous for blistering hot weather, but unfortunately the weather in the UK has been fierce recently. I love linen too, but that creases worse than normal in hot weather. Love the striped dress!

  12. When ever I wear a shirt dress I am mistaken for a shop assistant. I now avoid the stripes, the plains and the checks and carry a huge colourful bag to stop people asking me where the toilets are

  13. I now own a new pair of sandals, thanks to this post. On the plus side, they are Clarks rather than the very similar Lofina one that I had been coveting at more than twice the price!

  14. Cool as the proverbial cucumber in both temperature and style, Alyson! The cotton poplin shirt dress solves the problem beautifully on these hot and sweaty days. We are thrown such a curve when the weather gets this wonderfully hot in the UK. Anything remotely tight or even fitted is unbearable and all those cotton tee shirts are even too hot! Cos has some lovely thin cotton stuff in their sale. My feet are suffering sunburn and blisters and my toes have swollen up like piggy toes but isn’t that all part of the fun?! As always, I covet your Ally Cap. bag – please throw it my way when you are done!!

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