WE TRY BEFORE YOU BUY
The Affordable Summer Capsule We Are All Completely Obsessed With
When it comes to pinpointing affordable pieces that look good year after year, the team at Who What Wear are, if I could be permitted to say, connoisseurs. We know a good buy when we see one, and this week, the arrival of 14 summer-friendly items—a perfectly formed capsule, if you will—has everyone here in the office excited.
Okay, so we're slightly biased because this sustainable range has been designed by the coolest people we know: YOU! Thousands of members of our community banded together a few months ago to start a very innovative and agenda-setting process alongside our editors, in which not only were the demands and desires of our audience first put forward as design inspiration but those involved had a chance to make the big and small decisions along the way once the aesthetic and mood started to form. Necklines! Colours! Prints! Hemlines! Even the product names are dedicated to our readers. Every detail was up for debate, and the fascinating feedback has allowed us to create Drop 01 by Who What Wear UK—a small-but-mighty range of items that has longevity and rewearing front of mind, caters to a broader sizing range (6 to 24) AND is sustainably produced thanks to a unique made-to-order model powered by Unfolded, which limits waste, allows for higher wages for garment workers and supports children in education around the factories where the clothes are made with impact partner Pratham UK.
We've combined the elements that we know provide the DNA for longstanding classics with a sprinkling of trend-driven details, and every piece had to go through the same rigorous list of questions we apply to all of our best purchases: Will this look fantastic in a few years' time? Can I wear it in multiple ways now? Is it easy, comfortable and going to be that thing I fall back on time and again? Yes, yes and yes to all of the above. We've thought about bra straps and comfy elasticated waistbands. We've considered print combinations that you won't find anywhere else and everyone will ask you about.
The range is available to order (now!), so to celebrate, we had our editors and some of the chicest women from our network cherry-pick their faves to road-test them before you decide which you'd like to add to your basket. Keep reading to find out all about the summer capsule we are completely and utterly obsessed with—and shop it for yourself as you scroll!
Wear Your Greens
At the start of the design process, our editors and audience were all in agreement: Green is really, really great! So great, in fact, that two shades came out on top: first, a punchy tropical green and then a more muted sage. Yes, these verdant hues are having a moment, but they are also very well suited to different seasons throughout the year (not just summer—that floral slip skirt would look so cool with a knit in autumn) and to many skin tones. Green is never not flattering, IMHO.
Introducing the beautiful Cader in green—you're going to love it. Shopping editor Remy Farrell's bohemian styling of this breezy summer midi is a great example to follow. "Summer is shorthand for bright colours as far as I'm concerned, and there's nothing easier than a lightweight dress in a bold shade for a holiday-ready outfit," says Farrell. "With trips abroad in mind, I had to pair this dress with a bandana and flat sandals ready for exploring the city or ending up on the beach. The best thing about this dress, other than how light and easy it is to wear, has to be the neckline—tie the straps around the neck to create a halter-neck detail, or my personal favourite, loop them into a bow to create a keyhole."
In a sustainable cotton-and-linen mix, affiliate editor Emily Dawes's shorts-and-shirt co-ord can be worn in so many different ways (more on that later). True to her normal layering ways, she decided to go open-shirt with a simple vest underneath. The silhouette of the shirt is purposefully oversized, and the leg of the shorts cuts an A-line shape to create a more flattering and roomier line. The overall effect is a smart look that still feels easy to chuck on and not worry about. And she's got plans for each individual item in the future. "I love these shorts just with a classic white vest for heatwaves in the city or beach days on holiday, and then the shirt looks great also with a classic pair of blue jeans too," she says.
Acting assistant editor Maxine Eggenberger first reached for the mix-'n'-match Georgia skirt and Avalon wrap blouse, which provides a chic alternative on those days when a dress just doesn't feel like the answer. By using the same print screens in different colourways, we were able to avoid additional waste, which would normally come with introducing further print scales or styles—so you get all of the impact of a print clash with a lot less environmental impact.
The Works-for-Everything Dress
Got a wedding coming up? Want something cute for the office? Love dresses but feel bored of the same old, same old? Then have we got the style for you! Our mixed swirl-and-floral tea dress is a real winner and super striking in flame red. It's flattering, classic yet completely unique.
Who What Wear contributor and brand consultant Sara Brown and I couldn't resist the charms of the, well, Hannah dress (!) and both styled it in a similar way for a more formal occasion, and multiple people in the street commented on how much they loved it on us. Heels, mismatched accessories and a smattering of jewellery add some extra personality to an already-upbeat style.
Sizing note: I'd recommend sizing up in this style, especially if you are in between sizes.
Our Perfect LBD
It was a veritable bun fight as to who could get their hands on the black Cader four-in-one dress first. With its ultra-flattering cut and versatile neckline/shoulder options (hence the four-in-one proposition), it is one of those winners that work on everyone.
Friends and content creators Lara Betiku and Eleanor Barkes (who can often be found on Instagram trialling out the same trends or pieces together), looked incredible in theirs, styling it differently for both low-key and dressed-up options. You can opt for all-black accessories, and a pair of chunky sandals offers a cool way to toughen up this pretty dress style, or you can go for a French-girl vibe with espadrilles and a red lip.
"I just know it's a type of dress that you'll be able to get lots of wear out of," says Barkes, adding that it's a chic classic in the making. What's more is that the linen/viscose/cotton blend fabric is really lightweight and cool to wear, giving good swish as you walk, so it feels great on too.
All the Wedding Guest Vibes
When designing a collection for this time of year, and 2022 specifically, we simply had to think about styles that could work for lots of different events—everyone's schedules are packed out. But more than that, it was incredibly important for us to create dresses and looks that could be worn outside of those fancy moments too. There is simply no point in buying something fabulous only to wear it once!
So depending on your occasion and location, we have options that look great with heels, jewellery and a cute clutch but also can be tempered with sneakers and layered tees, for example.
"My favorite piece from the collection is this amazing red patterned dress," says beauty editor Eleanor Vousden. "I think it's so versatile for summer. It can be dressed up or down. Here, I've paired it with a basket bag and heels to wear into the office." A red lip isn't essential, but it does look good, doesn't it?
This flame-red linen-blend fabric had many of us instantly falling in love, and this warm shade of red appears to suit everyone. But it's also the elegant darted waist and cross-back style that makes this seemingly simple piece a lot more considered than you might think on first glance. "It's that back detail that just elevates what could have been a very simple style," says social media editor Joy Ejaria, who combined her Claire midi with all-black accessories a slick look that could work for an important event such as a wedding or a day at the races.
Sizing note: Due to the fitted style of this bodice, we'd recommend sizing up if you're fuller in the bust. A multi-way bra works well with this style.
There's Something About This Slip Skirt…
Whether worn as a co-ord to look like a dress (great for those of us with different-sized top and bottom halves), layered up for a unique effect or combined with the collection's other tops—such as the linen Tejal shirt or a plain white boxy tee—there's just something special about this floral Georgia slip skirt.
First up, it fits like a dream (and we designed it with a flattering internal elasticated waistband to make it extra comfy and smooth). Secondly, it seems to be endlessly versatile. And thirdly, it's made from 100% Ecovero, which is significantly more environmentally friendly than your average slip skirt fabrics available elsewhere.
"I'm absolutely obsessed with the length of the skirt, and it's such a simple piece that I know I'm going to be able to style up in lots of different ways,” says Brown. "Plus, the green is such a good tone.” And she’s not wrong. There’s something about the vibrant-yet-muted green print that seemed to suit everyone, and the cut just skims over the body like a dream.
Hameedah made the most of the contrast waist tie by fastening it with a bow at the front—we made sure the ties were long enough to offer this cute detail. "You can style the skirts and the blouse in completely different ways all seasons long, and it would still be perfect,” she says.
Remy shows how you can put a trans-seasonal spin on a summery skirt—this shirt-and-boots combo will work well into the autumn and then once more for spring.
For those of you who aren't into ultra-saturated colours, we haven't forgotten you! Sometimes, there's nothing chicer than a black summer dress, and we have a few iterations that speak to different personal styles.
Acting assistant editor Maxine Eggenberger sums it up about the Cader dress. "I don't know about you, but I'm always on the lookout for easy throw-on dresses that I can just chuck on on a whim pair with my favorite sandals, a cute handbag and gold jewelry and just know I'm going to look polished wherever I'm going. And that's what I found in this dress," she says. "I love the versatility of sleeves and the strap neckline. It's really fun to be able to change it up literally in seconds and have a different look for day, night, beach, bar. Wherever you're going, it's going to work. I do love the green color. But for me, the black is just perfection. It's classic, it's chic, and it's going to go with a multitude of things in my wardrobe already."
Giving it a '60s mod spin, Emily took the retro-feel Elizabeth out for a spin to show how you can wear it on cooler days in between seasons. Of course, it works wonderfully with black accessories, but it's equally as good with tan, white or any other shade you can think of!
Sizing note: If you are in between sizes or prefer an easier fit, we'd recommend sizing up.
Eleanor is clearly a black-dress fan, as opted for the breezy Katie dress for a second look. By pairing it with pumps and a polished bag, she ensured this outfit has all the hallmarks of "lunch with friends."
Sizing note: With the Katie dress, it's worth taking a size up if you're busty because it's a more fitted silhouette around the chest and waist.
Linen and linen-blend fabrics are everything when it comes to styling out summer in the city (or on a beach, if you're lucky enough), so they are the backbone of this collection. From statement-making linen trousers through to floaty midi dresses and boxy shirts, you'll find a linen piece to love forever more.
Art director and content creator Seun Ogunsola is fantastic at making minimalist looks that still stand out. So it makes sense to top and tail those flame-red Gigi pants with a simple ribbed vest (that's Abbey, and she's perfect, BTW) and cool mules.
Okay, if you aren't persuaded by now that the Cader dress is the easiest, suits-absolutely-everyone style, then you haven't been paying attention!
Here, Eleanor combines all-black accessories for a slick look that could work on a hot day for the office as nicely as it could for a family get-together or balmy night on holiday.
Sensible from the front and all party at the back, the Claire dress is the kind of style that doesn't date but still looks entirely modern. My automatic go-to for a colourful summer dress is to add classic tan accessories—if it ain't broke! I have an hourglass figure and found that my size was a little looser around the waist than I wanted it to be, but I'm very used to adding waist belts to everything, so this still worked for me.
Minis are back
Minis are back and looking set to stay (autumn/winter 2022 runways are full of them), but we know it’s an adjustment after years of midis being at the fore. So our minis are designed with all of that in mind—a careful balancing act of shorter hemlines alongside demure necklines and more sleeve coverage in neutral, easy colours and prints that look understated.
Stylist and content creator Lara Betiku played into the monochrome base of the swirl-and-floral print mix featured on the Elizabeth dress and provided a masterclass in exactly how to give a shorter hemline a more casual spin—just add chunky flat sandals and go!
The Kate—a shorter black version of the cross-back Claire dress in flame linen—is a swishy, easy little number. Seun cherry-picked this minimalist number as her favorite piece and wore it in the coolest and most unexpected way with cowboy boots and a matching black bag—simpler is so often better. "I love taking typically feminine pieces and adding my own little twist to them. The cross-back detail really stood out to me, as it separates this dress from your standard LBD,” she says, adding that a pop of colour from a red lip was all that was needed to elevate it into more playful territory.
Super brights are go
Our audience clearly loves a hot shade for summer, and we landed on a couple of key hues that not only work together but are easy to throw on and combine with other more neutral colours you're already likely to own. Flame red and tropical green have entered the chat, people.
Sara styled the Claire cross-back dress in a unique way with her own gauzy blouse underneath—a perfect solution if it's a day where you want to cover up a little more. This shade of red works surprisingly well with pink and lilac tones.
"I love how versatile the neck detail is and the fact that you can style it in different ways," says Betiku. "I chose to style it with a pair of orange sandals and my oversized basket bag." A pair of clashing sandals plays up to the statement colour of this throw-on dress in a very simple-yet-effective way.
I'm a real "dress person," but there was just something very tempting about these flame-red linen-blend trousers. I think it was the fact that they were just a really comfy, easy fit. The elasticated waistband just means that they're a bit more versatile, depending on your figure. And I'm quite hourglass, so this really helped cinch in around my waist but give a bit of room around my bum!
The Gigi trousers still make quite a statement because of the colour. I wore mine with our perfect-fit Jude T-shirt plus sandals, bag, sunglasses and a little scarf because I wanted to fully accessorise the look and not be too minimalistic.They could work equally well for people with completely different styles, and actually, you could dress them up for more of an evening vibe. Plus, they're really very well suited to the office during a heatwave.
The ultimate linen shirt
By the end of our shoot day, it was plain to see: This green linen shirt is a winner for everyone! You can wear it in so many different ways and combinations that it's a sound investment for many summers to come.