How to spot this summer's high street It dress - before it sells out

kitri dress 
Kitri's pink gingham frock already has a waiting list

Last summer, the Telegraph’s fashion team came close to creating a WhatsApp group solely to ensure that we didn’t all wear the same floral Zara dress to the office on the same day. The frock in question (red and pink, with short ruffled sleeves) was lightweight cotton, ideal for the heatwave. At least five members of the team bought it before it sold out nationwide. Several of my friends and family trecked around different branches in search of their size. I dubbed it the season’s Most Wanted Dress (MWD).

If you missed out on 2018’s MWD, fear not: I’ve identified the It-dress formula so that you snap them up early, as the summer collections are already arriving in our favourite high street stores...

Look out for sleeves 

A sleeve of some sort is a vital component. Last year British brand Kitri had a waiting list of 800+ for a printed green midi dress with long chiffon sleeves - and that was before it was even on sale. This summer’s equivalents are a) this Arket doppelgänger in a cheery red, and b) Kitri’s new pink gingham frock. The slightly puffed sleeve is very flattering (should you be looking for arm-slimming effects) and the square neck isn’t so low that it delves into milkmaid cleavage territory either, so: office-appropriate. It’s not yet on sale but there’s already a waiting list, so sign up for stock alerts.

A modest length is key

A hem-length either on or below the knee is the next ingredient. & Other Stories releases different iterations of its hero wrap dress each season; this dandelion print is the latest, and depending on how tall you are, will fall somewhere between your knee and ankle. 

The pale blue hue can easily be dressed up with metallic mules and a satin pouch to steer it into wedding guest territory, too. 

A print is a must

A pretty print is essential, though it shouldn’t be so bold that you can’t rewear it fortnightly. Pastels are ideal for this, and Zara excels here so should be your first stop. This polka dot maxi frock is heavenly in real life, and as it’s the cheapest on my predicted sell-out list you can afford to have it taken up a few inches if you’re petite.

Think about cost-per-wear

Price is another major factor. As the UK weather is as unpredictable as its politics, we daren’t throw hundreds at a dress that may only get one or two wears, which is why a flattering, dress-code busting high street one is like gold dust.

Whichever dress you opt for, a proactive approach is key. Better to act now and keep the receipt than spend hours trawling the high street for leftovers later.

Five high street It dresses in the making... 

If you're looking for long sleeves, Arket's spring collection has lots on offer. Floral dress, £79, Arket

Polka dots are a safe, chic print if you don't want to look too outre: Long polka dot dress, £39.99, Zara

Sign up for alerts if you're keen on this printed pink frock. Check midi dress, £125, Kitri

This pretty frock would look lovely over a white T-shirt and blue denim, too. Dandelion print dress, £69, & Other Stories

Leopard print was big news last summer - I predict a stampede for Topshop's zebra one which comes in two colourways. Printed shirt dress, £55, Topshop