Great dresses are a stalwart in our wardrobes, from the easy-breezy 'nap' dresses getting us through lockdown to smarter shapes in chic neutral hues we'll wear when we (one day) head back to the office, to sleeker styles in luxe fabrics and jewel tones for evening.
Rarely is there a dress that flatters all figures, though. The ubiquitous floral midi is especially suited to tall or curvy figures, but often isn’t the most flattering for petites who can be easily swamped in a print. The stiffness of denim frocks means bigger busts may not be keen; similarly, shirt dresses, which are best suited to smaller busts to avoid gaping buttons. Dresses are a minefield, so when a stylish, suits-all frock comes along, it swiftly becomes a classic. Enter, the smock.
Granted the name isn’t particularly appealing, but its components - loose, slouchy fit, draping fabric, flattering sleeves - most certainly are. The universally flattering frock is voluminous without appearing outre, nicely draping from the bust and skimming the figure, typically hitting the slimmest part of the calf.
Though it makes quite the style statement now, the smock was originally worn in the early 1900s to prevent rural workers from ruining their actual outfits underneath. Fast-forward 50 years and British brand Laura Ashley became synonymous with the style, offering sweet floral iterations that would prove popular for decades to come.
Over the years, its ever-changing hemline is what has kept it in line with modern trends: in the '70s and '80s, a maxi length was most common, whereas this season, the high street is full of mini and midi iterations. At last autumn's international fashion weeks, editors played ‘spot the smock,’ such was its popularity on and off the catwalks.
And what to wear them with: Nanette boots, £295, Grenson + Speckled socks, £10, COS + Leather shoulder bag, £175 LK Bennett + Gold chunky hoops, £89, Lucy Williams for Missoma; Beaded sandals, £39.99, Zara
For a wise investment and to maximise cost-per-wear, opt for a smock in a special fabric and a sweet pastel hue: you can wear it to an array of summer events with a beaded bag and mules, too. But, how to wear it now, while the weather’s warm but we're in lockdown at home?
You might like to note that every smock here has been worn with chunky ankle boots, and that’s no coincidence: a boot nicely toughens up a floaty frock, while also making them appropriate for this in-between spring weather and your daily walks. For lounging in the garden, pair with chunky dad sandals, and while working indoors, look to knitted socks to dress them down. Accessorize with gold jewellery and pretty hair accessories.