Women's Fashion | The Reconnoisseur

This versatile maxi is a summer staple

Found – the perfect summer maxi dress

This versatile maxi is a summer staple

June 26 2011
Avril Groom

Now that global weather forecasts pop up on every electronic device, there is no excuse for getting one’s travel wardrobe wrong. As a fairly frequent visitor to Provence, I know what to expect climatically at most times of the year and don’t always bother to check. For early summer, I’d dress for about 5 degrees C above London, plus some light cashmere for still-chilly evenings and a brolly for thunder showers. Planning a recent visit, while our sunny and dry late spring was actually quite cool, it was only at the last minute that I checked the méteo and saw that temperatures in Provence were already in the low 30s with balmy summer nights.

Cue a quick dash to find a dress for the informal evenings on friends’ or restaurant terraces that constitute Vaucluse summer life – yes, I have one or two, but not this year’s nostalgic maxi. With very little time to find one that would not make me look as if I had resuscitated a number from my hippie youth, I turned to Comptoir des Cotonniers, good at casual-chic French style and famous for dressing mothers and daughters with equal aplomb. And there it was – a long ivory dress (pictured, £128) with a deep, off-the-shoulder ruffle in the 1970s paysanne spirit of Yves St Laurent, and plenty of cream eyelet embroidery channelling this summer’s white lace trend but more flattering to the untanned.

The summer idyll lasted two days before an electrical spectacular and torrential rain ushered in more seasonal weather, but the dress goes on. In a matt, almost cheesecloth texture and fully lined, it works equally as a beach cover-up and sightseeing dress this summer and is about to go, dressed up with pearls, gold sandals and a cashmere throw, to a country-house ball. Eventually it will make a great nightie.

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Dresses