As the autumn collections prepare to make their appearance, Stephanie Smith picks out the seven must-have dresses that will take you anywhere.
As time become more pressed and more precious, we expect our clothes to work hard, taking us from work to play and day to night with the minimum of fuss and effort. We need our dresses, in particular, to be multi-taskers, ones we can style up and down easily from smart daytime to statement night-time looks, and all with a simple switch of accessories and layers.
2. THE DRESS UP/DOWN MAXI: The Dress Up/Down Maxi: As with the LBD, it's essential that the basic silhouette of the dress is one that suits and flatters. Ideally, the length should be such that you can wear it with heels for night and also high heel boots for day. A wrap-style top looks elegant. A jewel tone such as ruby or emerald, or midnight blue, is ideal for dressing up for night-time but also works well for day under a sleeveless faux fur gilet. Green draped dress, �120, at Phase Eight.
These are the seven styles of new autumn dresses you can rely on to take you through the season.
3. The Velvet Dress: Velvet is a key trend for this coming autumn/winter and is being used for dress shapes outside of the traditional ruched Christmas numbers that we are more used to seeing. A velvet A-line maxi dress is a statement look that styles up stunningly with heels and updo, giving a regal and retro appeal, but also works with flat boots and layers for daytime. An on-trend new season must-have.' Burgundy velvet maxi dress, �349, coming to Hobbs.
4: THE RETRO TUNIC DRESS: Shape and colour are everything here, so look for A-line or a straight down shift, in tailored wool with neat seam and perhaps zip detail, and a bright, bold colour or pattern. Choose above the knee if you can get away with it and team with boots or mid- height loafer style shoes, for a slightly geeky but totally 'cool and chic look. This orange A-line tunic dress will be coming to Plase Eight for autumn.
5. THE KNITTED DRESS - The Knitted Dress: Knitted dresses are autumn/winter staples, and this season, knit layering in the same or similar shades, with knit tights, dress and cardi or sweater (and wrist-warmers, if you like) makes for the perfect chilly weather look. Grey works well, teaming also with other colours and print. Look for a simple tunic shape and perhaps cable detail at the neck, for a slight folkish edge.' This dip hem dress is coming to People Tree.
6: THE WRAP DRESS - The Wrap Dress: Ultra-flattering, especially for 'curvy figures, effortlessly smart and always reliable, the wrap dress is a daytime go-to (although it can dress up well for smart, especially in one-colour jewel tones). A print style is perfect for work, with a streamlined shape that suits being under tailored jackets. Look for quality, drapey jersey, because cheaper ones will shrink and cause the wrap neck to gape. A kimono sleeve will add an elegant on-trend touch. Kimono wrap dress, �39, coming to M&Co.
The Dress Up/Down Tunic Dress: Look for an A-line or loose shift shape, with detail such as a border hem or an embellished neckline, although a simple tie neck will mean you can also wear the dress with boots and black tights for daytime. This is the go-to dress for parties throughout the season, and it can be any colour you love, although black and midnight blue will probably prove to be the most flexible in the long run. Add strappy-heels sandals and clutch, and you're good to go. This dress is from Joseph Ribkoff.
Everyone should have a lucky Vivienne Westwood dress - Here is Kim Kardashian in a rather fabulous one shoulder number. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley show how the strappy slinky maxi gown really should be worn. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)