Dressing the part

From the LBD to the summer party dress, your complete guide to that most feminine wardrobe item

The Edit

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Due to its softness and temperature regulating properties, Merino wool is an ideal fabric when it comes to dresses. Whether it requires the structured, wrinkle free effect of more corporate styles or the luxurious drape of eveningwear, women can’t go past the long list of benefits that come from choosing dresses made from Merino. But much like suits have their own code of practice, the various dress styles have a law unto themselves based on how to wear them, where, and when.


A flattering dress for all body types, the wrap is literally that – a dress that wraps around, sealing in the front, as made popular by designer Diane von Furstenberg. Aside from comfort, a wrap dress made with Merino wool offers additional warmth and natural drape to accentuate the body’s contours. The fit should be one that comfortably cinches at the waist providing a fitted look across the bust and flared comfort in the skirt. The wrap’s versatility lends itself to any occasion – work, weekends and even evenings. Transforming this staple from day to night is as simple as a change of shoes and accessories.


Long, flowing and wonderful alternative to jeans and a t-shirt – the maxi dress offers extreme comfort particularly in summer. Slight variations on the maxi dress make it easy to wear for all body types. For example, a slightly more fitted look for petite figures or an empire waist for curvaceous bodies. Casual and relaxed, this style is best left for weekends and after hours.


A cocktail dress is simply a semi-formal dress that ends above the knee, as opposed to a more formal full-length evening gown. Modern designers such as Phillip Lim and Jason Wu have used Merino wool for their cocktail dresses to create a sense of reserved style. While the rules surrounding cocktail dresses and when they are worn has blurred, this style is traditionally reserved for the evening although it has become popular as an alternative to a day dress.


Merino wool’s natural drape, softness and resistance to creasing make it the perfect fibre for the evening gown’s elegance. Because it has antistatic properties, gowns made using Merino won’t cling, but instead flow over the body. Only worn during the most formal of occasions, and only at night, evening gowns can range from simple body-hugging designs to fuller, more dramatic styles.


More structured than a wrap, the day dress is a versatile basic that can be worn on any occasion – at the office, at lunch or just an afternoon with friends. Merino wool’s high level of drape is perfectly suited to the simple yet neat nature of the day dress.


Photography Liz Ham | Illustration Barry Allen Patenaude

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