To celebrate the online launch of Marks & Spencer's Ultimate Dress Guide and new summer womenswear collection, I was invited by M&S to collaborate with them on a "Dressing for a Summer Occasion" post. The Ultimate Dress Guide offers styling ideas for summer events, from weddings to festivals and incorporates some of the key dress trends for the season.
The brief was to style an outfit tailored for a summer occasion or an event. With a budget of £120 I was to chose a dress as a "hero" piece and the remainder of the budget was to be utilised in accessorising the outfit.
Although I don't have any weddings to go to or trips to the races planned, I am going to New York for a long weekend and we are going on holiday to the Channel Islands plus I have a summer birthday - so there's plenty of room for a new dress in all of that!
Without really realising it - but this is an approach which I take with most of the clothes that I buy - I was on the look out for a dress that I could style in lots of different ways and this Autograph sleeveless maxi dress (£52 down from £65) looked like it might just fit the bill. I liked the neat shape of the collar and the neckline, together with the fact that the shoulders were wide enough to accommodate bra straps. Also the slight empire line looked very forgiving and believe me it is. I have done the "standing in front of the mirror sideways test" and breathed both in, and out, as much as I can and you know something? It is impossible to tell the difference. Oh the joy! And oddly, although I steer clear from black during the winter months, I actually quite like it for the summer.
Over the last few summers I have become much more of a hat wearer and this M&S Collection straw fedora hat (£15) worn with the dress and gladiator flats, wouldn't look out of place in a casual setting. Swap it for a big floppy hat, layers of gold and silver bracelets and high wedges and it would be perfect for a wedding.
With all things 70's being such a big trend this summer, and with maxi dresses lending themselves to some styles of shoes more than others, I chose these Limited Edition platform sling back sandals (£28 down from £35). I must admit to having worn them on the school run this morning and they are so comfortable. The berry colour is a lovely colour too, working with lots of darker base colours plus the summer neutrals of cream, white, khaki and pale grey.
And being such a big fan of Lulu Kennedy, I wanted to include one of her pieces in my outfit from her new range Lulu Kennedy for Indigo Collection. Unfortunately the bag is now out of stock online - although it is still in some stores - so I've linked to the rest of Lulu's collection for M&S which has some great pieces in it.