9 best women’s midi dresses: Puff sleeve, milkmaid and smock styles

One of the most hardworking pieces in your wardrobe, these will reach hero status in no time

Eva Waite-Taylor
Tuesday 28 July 2020 09:00
We looked for those that were the antithesis of loungewear, but required the same amount of thought
We looked for those that were the antithesis of loungewear, but required the same amount of thought

The humble midi dress is one of the hardest working items in your wardrobe. It transcends trends and can be worn from one season to the next and from one occasion to the next.

A floral, floaty number, for example, can be dressed up with heels and accessories for a summer wedding, or paired back with trainers and an oversized jumper for brunch with your pals.

A satin slip can be worn on a hot summer’s day for a picnic in the park or dressed up for a night at the pub. These dresses are truly versatile.

We looked for pieces that were the true antithesis to loungewear because if you’re anything like us you’ll be just a little bit over it.

But, the true joy of a midi dress is that just like throwing on a pair of leggings and oversized tee it requires zero thought, yet its transformative powers mean you will feel 100 times more pulled together.

The joy of the midi dress doesn’t stop here. Their beauty also lies in their staying power; chances are your wardrobe will still be full of yesteryears midis that you pull out each season to re-wear. And rightly so.

But as with all wardrobe staples, they can begin to look a little dowdy a few years down the line, so if you’re looking to give yours an update, you’ll be glad to know that this year’s offering is equally as great.

When testing, we of course searched for those that were timeless and were as far away as loungewear as possible. But sizing, fit, and material were also taken into account.

From 90s inspired slips to bold floral patterns, take it from us, these midi dresses will reach hero status in your wardrobe in no time.

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All Saints Tierney slip dress

A take on a 90s classic, All Saints has come through with this Tierney slip dress. The delicate cami straps can be adjusted to exactly how you like them, and the sight sheen to the fabric gives a satin feel. It fits true to size, but if you’re looking for something a little less figure hugging, we’d advise sizing up. This will see you through the warm summer months in the pub garden, but equally as well in winter when worn under a jumper with tights and boots. At under £40, this versatile slip dress is as good as it gets.

Realisation Par the alba in rosalita

Featuring a firm bodice, an invisible zipper at the side, corset-style front with elasticated ruching at the back, and adjustable spaghetti straps, every detail about this dress makes the fit just perfect. Made from 100 per cent silk crepe it feels as decedent as its price tag, but we think it’s totally worth it. While it comes in a range of colourways, we absolutely love the white strawberry print and will certainly be adding it to our basket.

New Look black spot square neck belted dress

The square-neck and puff-sleeves work to keep this dress on trend, while the belt cinches in the waist to create a flattering fit, and the split front hem gives added sass. The woven fabric is lightweight, making it perfect for a hot sunny day. Pair with a chunky sandal and gold hoop earrings for a summer occasion.

Miss Selfridge ivory rainbow midi slip dress

We were pleasantly surprised by this white slip dress from Miss Selfridge. The cut was flattering, and the polka dots provide the perfect way to channel the s/s20 trend. A transitional piece we can see ourselves wearing year on year. It’s worth investing in skin coloured underwear as the fabric is slightly sheer.

Realisation Par the Juliet in rouge fleur

This button up silk dress features a slight scoop back and corset style top – a totally elegant dress. We absolutely love the romantic ruffle detail across the shoulder straps and front panel. The fit was true to size, and the length perfectly grazed the shin. Owing to being 100 per cent silk, this one is dry clean only, and again slightly sheer. An investment, but a forever dress.

Nobody’s Child lenzing ecovero pink and cream floral Evelyn tie back midi dress

Florals for spring and summer will always be the order of play, so make a statement in this puff-sleeved midi. The elasticated detailing around the waist will enhance your figure, while the open back adds another layer of femininity. All this and a great fit too. Wear to a summer wedding with a nude heel, or with trainers while running errands. Alternatively, it’s a great throw on and go dress while working from home or transitioning back to office life.

The added benefit of this is the brand’s strong eco-credentials. This dress is made from lenzing ecovero viscose, an eco-responsible alternative to traditional viscose since it’s made from renewable wood and generates 50 per cent less emissions and water impact. Not only does this score highly on fit, style and timelessness, it’s also cleaner for the environment. Bonus.

Topshop blue bow back poplin midi chuck on dress

This pale blue poplin midi is the perfect chuck on and go dress that you didn’t know you needed. At 100 per cent cotton, the soft to touch fabric makes it a dream to wear, and we’re obsessed with the tie back detailing. Due to the fit being slightly oversized, we’d advise sizing down if you want a tighter across your waist. A timeless classic that can be worn ample of times.

Nobody’s Child lenzing ecovero cream and red spot alexis tie sleeve midi dress

This midi tee dress is form fitting and easy to wear. The bold vintage style polka dot print is bang on trend, while the tie detailing at the arms adds a nice touch. A timeless piece that you cannot fault. Similarly to the other Nobody’s Child dress in this round-up, it’s made from a sustainable alternative to viscose, and is soft to touch. Wear with trainers or sandals and throw on a cardigan for cold summer evenings.

Weekday Telma dress

While a figure-hugging dress might ordinarily feel less summer wear more eveningwear, you can’t go wrong with a plain black midi dress, especially when paired with a tie sandal or plain white trainer. And Weekday’s iteration is easily a wardrobe staple that will see you throughout the season and into autumn. The smooth viscose blend fabric feels like it’ll whip away any residual sweat, and the fit is flattering. We’d advise sizing up for something a little more roomy.

The verdict: Women’s midi dresses

Choosing our favourite midi dress of this selection was no mean feat. If you want a throw on, easy wearing number it’s got to be Topshop’s blue bow back poplin midi chuck on dress. But for an all-round winner, we can’t fault the All Saints Tierney dress; easily worn throughout summer and into autumn and winter, it’s transitional, a great fit and a true hero staple in your wardrobe. If you do have the cash to splash though, Realisation Par’s the Alba in rosalita is just as faultless.

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