The best places to buy wear-anywhere dresses - for every shape and budget

Rixo dresses
A great dress should take you effortlessly from desk to dancefloor Credit: Rixo

In a new series, the Telegraph fashion team shares insider tips on navigating the most challenging shopping minefields. Previously, we've covered jeans and cashmere. Next up: wear-anywhere dresses.

The high street is full of dresses. Party dresses, work dresses, floral dresses, mini dresses… But all too often they only serve a single purpose, limiting the frequency with which we can wear them.

The holy grail of dresses is the kind of thing you can wear anywhere: a hero piece that can take you from the office to a night out. It needs to transcend seasons, looking as good with bare legs and sandals as it does with tights and boots. And if it’s not asking too much, we want it to be machine-washable too - because dry-cleaning is expensive, bad for the environment and yet another chore we don’t need in our lives.

If a dress does meet all that criteria, as well as being affordable, there’s then a risk that everyone else will buy it too, and nobody wants another Zara spotted dress scenario.

Here, the Telegraph’s fashion editors share their favourite sources of wear-anywhere dresses - for every shape, style and budget.

Rixo

Credit: Rixo

Rixo Becky dress, £285, rixo.co.uk

For printed midis that can genuinely take you from desk to dinner, Rixo is my go-to. I currently have three dresses from the brand, and I reckon I wear them as frequently as my jeans or blazers. They’re not cheap, costing in the region of £250-300 each, but the shapes are timeless and the prints unique. I scan sites like Depop, eBay and Vestiaire Collective for gently worn second-hand dresses that cost around half the price of new ones. Tamara Abraham

Ghost

Credit: Ghost

Ghost Lea dress, £129, ghost.co.uk

Come August and December when you can't move for weddings and parties, a one-stop look is my go-to. I'm a tricky dress customer though and rely on a few tried-and-tested brands to get me through my dressy months. Ghost ticks all of my boxes. Its silky bias-cut styles skim - rather than hug or cling to - the body, and every dress comes in an array of shades and prints. So often on the high street you can spot the perfect frock, but in a shade you wouldn't normally plump for, so the array Ghost has on offer is ideal. Krissy Turner

Cefinn

Credit: Cefinn

Romy funnel-neck dress, £360, cefinn.com

Samantha Cameron created Cefinn after spotting a gap in the market for good quality, stylish dresses at a price point which wasn't high street but wasn't quite as steep as designer, either. I now have three Cefinn frocks which for me are like that can of Heinz tomato soup you keep at the back of the cupboard - they are exactly what you need at the times you really need it most. The best Cefinn designs are the ones made with techni-voile fabric which is flattering, elegant and super easy to wash.  Bethan Holt

Vintage Laura Ashley

My latest shopping obsession is spending hours scouring Etsy and eBay for vintage Laura Ashley dresses. I'm now on six. They are brilliantly made and nicely cut so many feel as good as new. The style - lots of ruffles, florals and pretty collars - taps into the current prairie trend in a more authentic way than the reproductions on the high street. I'd advise buying a size up from the one you usually take as pieces were made smaller forty years ago but most styles are swooshy. Simply type 'vintage Laura Ashley size 14' into eBay and browse to your heart's content. There's such a revival in the brand now that if your purchase doesn't work, you can sell it on.  Bethan Holt

Kitri

Credit: Kitri

Kitri Tara dress, £145, kitristudio.com

Kitri came to my attention a couple of years ago, when it emerged that the brand's green floral Gabriella midi dress had a waiting list of over 800 people. It has been churning out affordable hit after hit ever since. The current collection includes the Tara dress, which has a similarly versatile shape, but in a navy polka-dot fabric.

Ganni

Credit: Ganni

Ganni printed mini dress, £210, ganni.com

For flattering shapes, interesting prints and comfortable fabrics I rely on Ganni. With its now-familiar shapes updated every season in new prints, Ganni dresses always feel fresh and unusual. I find I can wear them in all seasons as they work as well with bare legs as they do with thick tights with chunky boots. I tend to throw on a Ganni dress whenever I don’t know what to wear and always feel great in it. Wait until the sale to get dresses at a fraction of their original price. Sophie Tobin

& Other Stories

Credit: & other stories

& Other Stories puff-sleeved jacquard dress, £95, stories.com

Forget Zara. The current high street hit dress factory is & Other Stories, the H&M sister brand which takes just enough inspiration from the catwalk to be on trend, but not so much that you look like a fashion victim. Some highlights this season Tamara Abraham

Monsoon

Credit: Monsoon

Monsoon Sonique stripe print midi dress, £60, monsoon.co.uk

Particularly come party season when the weather's likely in the single figures, a modest frock (with long sleeves, a warm fabric and a midi length) is a must, and Monsoon always fulfills this brief. It means all of its frocks (particularly the velvet and silky numbers) lend themselves well to day-to-night dressing as you can team them with knits and boots for the office, and with platforms and statement earrings post-6pm.. Krissy Turner

Reformation

Credit: Reformation

Reformation Wallflower dress, £255, thereformation.com

When I was living in the US, Reformation became a favourite for the kind of dresses that are office-appropriate, yet special enough for an evening out, so I was thrilled when it followed me back to the UK. Its dresses are based on vintage designs, and are made from eco-friendly fabrics such as Lyocell, viscose or ‘deadstock’ (excess fabric from other brands that might otherwise be sent to landfill). Sizing used to be limited, but it has since increased its range up to a UK 24. Find it at Net-a-Porter, Selfridges or thereformation.com. TA

The 'best places to buy...' series is published every Monday. Check back next week for the Telegraph fashion team's take on where to buy wear-anywhere dresses, or revisit previous topics including  jeans and cashmere.

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