This article is about pretty and sophisticated summer dresses
for 2009. I will cover the latest silhouette, the fabric
type, colours and patterns. It is interesting to compare
trends of previous recessions with those of fashion looks in
2009. For example, increased modesty in dress with longer, fuller skirts,
more reserved necklines, wider shoulders and billowing sleeves
capping or encasing arms. Despite recession
hardship there will always be women who want fashionable clothes at affordable
In fashion history terms it is now very easy to see how the
dress for 2009 is moving from a straight silhouette to A-line.
The profile is
getting much wider at skirt and shoulder level, and is balanced
with a longer hemline.
Observe how many of the dresses on this
page illustrate the use of a wider A-line silhouette,
drapery, tucks, pleats and bows. Almost all are combined with
that other strong new fashion trend of greater modesty at the
Most of these frocks have more modest sweeping jewel or boat necklines
rather than ultra low revealing dιcolletι.
Less formal dresses are the easy A-line 60's shifts, or
Kimono sleeve dresses that morph into tunics when worn over
All manner of styles have appeared for Spring 2009 with
both customers and retailers taking the dress to heart. These two dresses above right are by Celine. Both Celine dresses
illustrate the fashion trendsetter elements with the
loose painted on dye fabric effect, the widening longer line skirt
and wider shoulder line.
This is a pivotal change in the everyday silhouette and
worthy of note. For not only is the dress now a norm, but it
also comes in a wide array of silhouette styles.
Plain bold colours, or monochrome schemes, produce powerful
yet summery looks. Newer
fabric decoration gives full rein to the paint box. Painted-on
colour using wide brushstrokes of watercolour, plus
soft dreamy Ombre effects, create a kaleidoscope of colour yet
are blended to art
Floral roses, trailing blooms of sweet peas and daisies
combine to create watercolour like prints. Fabrics done in a painterly manner
allow whole gardens to be brought to dresses, as shown by the
dresses above. Such patterns suit
the classic waisted fifties dress so well.
Right - TK Maxx Floral Print Dress. £49.99 Spring Summer 09
The tunic dress above left, by Michael Angel, is in an
watercolour material similar to the styles of fabrics from Celine
shown top of the page.
These dye print/ombre/brushstroke/tie-dye effects are so new
they blur the boundaries of traditional pattern and prints,
the result is to invent fabrications that have the look of hand painting
and hand-screen printing.
Blue is an important colour this year, and fused with
aquamarine green or purple mauve it becomes like a vibrant
The blue and sea green dress right, and which reflects all the
colours of the sea, is from Warehouse Spring 2009 Womenswear.
Warehouse Impact Print Dress £60/95, Necklaces start from
£14/22, Sandals £28/45.
Prints help to fashion a
more ethereal and exotic effect. Fabrics are layered or given additional
texture with brocade surface interest and the play of metallic,
satin and silk fabrics combine to add surface depth.
Designers are using the artist palette in its full range even in animal
prints. We are seeing patterns from zebra to leopard,
which are much more
exotic than in previous years; what makes the difference is the
rich jewel hues.
Bright colour is one of the strongest fashion
statements of the season. This vivid blue paint brushstroke
halter maxi dress left is from TK Maxx and bears striking print
imagery similar to the designer fabrications above.
Left - Multicoloured blue mix halter-neck maxi dress £29.99
Spring Summer 09 Dresses TK Maxx (Limited availability on items
at TK Maxx).
Stylised statement is the key to Japanesque
detail, for example, print fabrics with meandering motif ornamentation that have bold
Ikebana styled flora and grasses like this Monsoon maxi dress.
Maxi dresses offer a large
canvas of fabric, and are wonderful to display the largest of
lone motifs as a bold single work of art.
So many of the examples above featured blue
tones, Santorini blue, bright Yves Klein blue
through to sea green blue tones, all make the blue family a major
colour for 2009. These dresses below show not only the
variety of the blue tone, but also the changing silhouette of the year
The silhouette of the first blue dress begins
with an undefined drapery in the sleeve shoulder area.
Moving along the line, the royal
dress develops a slight A-line that compliments the asymmetric
shoulder line. Next is a simple blue summer shift with decorated
neckline, it has an easy
flared A-line silhouette. The final dress in the line-up
green dress with extra fullness in the form of medium restrained
pleats, but the skirt has visibly widened.
Far Left - Wallis Spring Summer 09 - Blue stingray dress
Centre left - Matalan Dresses - Et Vous ruffle one shoulder
dress £25 - Matalan SS09 Women's Apparel.
Centre Right - Wallis Spring Summer 09 - Beaded neck shift dress
Far Right - Dorothy Perkins Spring Summer 09 - Blue jacquard
mini dress £40/60.
Even with so many styles of dress available, the
noticeable trend for summer dresses 2009 is for a bold strong colour,
with drapery in a
gradually widening skirt silhouette. Fashion designers
achieve this by employing double layer skirts.
Volume, once a dirty word in
early noughties fashion, now seems so normal compared to just a few
years ago. The shoulder line has widened and covered bare
shoulders giving a fifties/early sixties touch of fashion. This is groomed
dressing. You can also see actresses wearing examples of this dress
style in the TV series 'Mad Men'.
In the line-up of 4 summer dresses below, the rich green strapless dress
shown left has a
fuller silhouette with a much wider skirt and a deep inverted pleat. The
prom bodice is also higher than in previous seasons.
green sleeved and yellow dresses all have draped soft pleats
which add volume fullness.
Far Left - Dorothy Perkins Spring Summer 09 - Green taffeta prom
Centre Left - Dorothy Perkins Spring Summer 2009 - Lime bow
front shift dress £40/60.
Centre Right - Dorothy Perkins Spring Summer 2009 - Yellow linen
shift dress £35/55.
Far Right - Dorothy Perkins Spring Summer 09 - Yellow bow front
In the warm toned dress line up below, the silhouette moves
from the popular A-line yoke shift, to the red
prom line full skirt. This red prom dress is also much more
modest than bustier styles of last year. The silhouette moves back to tiered half skirts on pencil
line underskirts and in the final pink dress the waist shows
1920 influence as it drops to a high hipline. As a result, skin exposure is
additionally much more restrained in the 2009
The silhouette is changing and it is obvious a wider
skirt will very soon be the norm.
Far Left - Dorothy Perkins Spring Summer 2009 - Gold
jacquard shift dress £40/60.
Centre Left - Dorothy Perkins Spring Summer 09 - Red bow front
prom dress £45/70.
Centre Right - Littlewoods Direct Spring Summer 2009 - Two
layered peplum dress £49.
Far Right - Dorothy Perkins Spring Summer 09 - Pink bubble hem
dress with bow £45 70.
For summer 2009 the dress fashion trend
most likely to win over every age group is the 60s A-line shift
dress, such as the orange brocade dress above left or these easy
A-line dresses left.
Left - Richard Nicoll for People Tree - Pink
Stripe Ruffle A-line Shirt Dress - £75.
Both embroidery and beads are also used to embellish these
especially at centre fronts and necklines. This transferred
trend really stems from the influence of kaftans in fashion.
Centre Left - Coral Pip Dress £65 / 110 - Fusion Monsoon
empire line dresses, like this bold bright magenta dress from Boden and the floral dress below right, are moving toward A-line
silhouettes. Right - Boden Spring Summer 2009 - Magenta
outfit of A-line empire dress and cashmere cropped cardigan,
rose covered handbag and sling back shoes.
Short, knee, calf or maxi length dress - it does not matter; just make sure you have at least one empire line dress in your
wardrobe this summer and preferably one with full kimono sleeves
to ensure you can instantly feel updated.
What could be more grown up than this raised
waist little black dress from Harvey Nicholls. It is the
ultimate grown up dress, yet combines youthful frivolity with
Left - The LBD from Harvey Nichols. Giambattista
Valli Rope Detail Sheath Dress.
The garden has
meandered onto summer 2009 frocks, and of course roses abound in
prints and create such stylish dresses. Few floral prints could be more delightful or epitomise
hazy summer days more than Harvey Nichols' empire line dress
Right - Twenty8Twelve Pixelated Rose Print Empire Dress at Harvey Nichols
Left - Posey Dress £75 / 127 form Monsoon Spring/Summer 2009
Centre Left - Dorothy Perkins Spring Summer 2009 - Brushed
floral shift dress £40 60.
Centre Right - Miss Selfridge Floral Blue Prom Dress - £45/68 -
Miss Selfridge Spring Summer 2009.
Right - Pink Waterlily Dress £60 / 102 - Monsoon High Summer
2009 - Fusion. This Pushing Daisies dress
is inspired by all things ladylike. It has blurred florals with the
classic Fifties silhouette of nipped-in waists with
sophisticated, mismatched styling.
Prints in Summer 2009 Dresses
Pattern is very important with botanical garden
prints, and there are also Amer-African tribal prints and animal designs.
Brushstroke marks and hazy watercolour blends of dyes that run
into each other add a touch of dreamy lightness to lazy summer
day frocks, tea dresses and occasion wear. Many of the
currently fashionable retro inspired prints examples above are reminiscent of
Vintage 1950s Calpreta cotton satinised fabrics.
One instance where pattern is shown to great
effect is in the kimono sleeve and Kaftan sleeve. Widths of
sleeve and drape vary, but the potential for even greater volume
is still growing.
may like the newness of the softer fondant colours with a watery
sorbet appearance. These soft flesh pink dresses have a wistful
femininity about them.
The summer dress far right from asos.com has a frilly
ruffle hemline interest in line with frill and haberdashery
trims so fashionable on 2009 garments. The rose-print dress centre also has a rose
corsage on the shoulder to emphasise the tiered frill frock.
Centre Right - Littlewoods Direct Spring Summer 2009 Corsage
detail summer dress £59.
Drapery focusing on the waist or side waist is a fashion style
being adopted everywhere. It's not just bold brights of lapis or sea
green, but also a choice of neutral creams, silver greys, expensive bronze
and flesh tones. The goddess draped fashion
dresses are especially suited to subtle colour ways and they can
be found in biscuit, dusty soft rose, creamy putty tones, white, grey
or copper gold. These are all tints that imply Grecian antiquity or
even 1940s goddess.
Who can forget the draped satin
curtains of their childhood when they visited the cinema.
Thus many of these draped and architectural
styles lend themselves to satin, satin backed crepes, knit
jersey or silk chiffons.
sheen and gleam of silk jersey and silk satin looks at its most
glorious when falling into luxurious swathes and drapes and the
maxi dress is the ultimate in Grecian goddess since the extra
length lends itself to create trains and layers.
Near Left - Wallis Spring Summer 09 - Draped deep
v-neck dress £40/60
Centre - Marks and Spencers - Bronze goddess draped dress. TBC
Right - Hobbs Spring Summer 2009 - Draped silver grey occasion
Often when describing must-have fashion looks
what, what we really mean is a must-have seasonal fad. The real trends
to watch are those of Monochrome, Nautical, Military, Vintage and Volume looks. These are all trends
that have had a growing impact every fashion season this decade.
Left - A real fashion trend - Volume in fashion
sleeves and skirts. Matthew Williamson Fuchsia Floral Dress With
Puffy 3/4 Sleeves available from Harvey Nichols.
Right - A true fashion trend - Monochrome Looks.
Dress by Episode Spring Summer 2009, available at House of
Fraser large stores.
If colour and pattern is not your thing then
there are two options. Firstly, seek out the classic nautical colour
schemes of navy/red/white/tan, secondly, choose the simplicity
of black and
Monochrome is a very easy look to adopt and
adapt in the credit crunch. A monochrome garment with the
boldness of retro chic blocks of contrast tones like this dress
from Marks and Spencer Summer 2009 range creates an optical
illusion of slimness.
Dropped shoulder 1980s style tops, and kimono sleeve Kaftans
create silhouette tunics with relaxed looks perfect for casual
and comfortable relaxed summer wear. Kaftan tops are ideal with
jeans, shorts or other trousers, or on the beach as cover up wear.
These short dresses use intense colour mixes, magnificent
border prints to create dresses with exotic flair and mystery.
The wide kimono sleeve left is important to note as follow-on styles will be led by this look.
Left - Keja Dress £85 / 144 Monsoon Spring/Summer 2009 -
Right - Monsoon High Summer 2009 - Occasionwear Kaftan Tunic
Kimono and loose easy Kaftan styles also feature strongly in
maxi dress silhouettes. These maxi dresses are both empire line in silhouette,
and follow the tiered styles set last year by Dolce and Gabbana.
These examples illustrate the designer version at Gucci or the high street
low cost credit crunch version from Primark. The full sleeves
signal new shapes to come.
Above right - Long sleeve chiffon maxi dress £15.00 due in store
mid March worn with wood heart pendant necklace £2.50. Crescent
flower drop earrings £2.00, Leather buckle gladiator sandals
£10.00 - Primark Collection for Spring 2009.
Copyright of images courtesy of prshots, Swarovski,
TK Maxx, Celine, Harvey Nichols, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis, Miss Selfridge, Oasis, New Look,
River Island, Marks & Spencer, Accessorize Monsoon, Matalan,
Gucci, Principles, Hobbs, House of Fraser, ASOS.com,
Warehouse, Primark, Boden, People Tree.
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