Al dressco: how picnic chic became the look of the summer

0
8


So we have a new dress code: a picnic with an exclusive six-person guest list. Sorry, did I say dress code? I meant new social distancing rules. Anyway, like I said: a picnic – or a barbecue – in the park or in the garden, with an exclusive six-person guest list.

A stroll through my local park confirms that the new behavioural guidelines are being read as a new uniform. Anywhere on a sunny patch of grass, you are guaranteed to be exactly two metres away from a picnic dress. There are puffed sleeves and broderie anglaise. There are ditsy florals and polka dots. There are midi-length gingham dresses in chic monochrome, by Ganni.



Summer dress, & Other Stories.

There are green-as-grass colours and puffed cotton sleeves, like this dress from Zara. There are tiered al-fresco frocks with folksy embroidery, such as the dreamy lilac number from & Other Stories, above. The women who spent last winter wearing modishly austere, Little Women-esque prairie-style long-sleeve, high-neck dresses with ankle boots to the office are now to be found in pale florals and ruffle-trimmed picture necklines.

The picnic dress is the new tracksuit. If the tracksuit was the uniform of Stay at Home, the picnic dress is Have Fun (but Sensibly, and Outside.) This is what a picnic dress stands for. Polka dots and florals are upbeat, but civilised. Smocking and puffed sleeves are summery without being provocative. Even the many gatherings in my local park, which are picnics in the impromptu sense – silvery tins of gin and tonic from the Tesco Express over the road, 99 Flakes from the ice-cream van – feature women adorned with vintage florals and delicately gathered pintucks.

The psychology of the picnic dress is fascinating. Is it OK to wear celebration frocks in a pandemic? Where does Keep Calm and Carry On end, and Marie Antoinette at the Petit Trianon begin? No one knows the answer to these questions, which is precisely why the picnic dress is emerging as the go-to summer look. The iconography of picnicking, with its teddy bears and wicker baskets, is wholesome fun rather than hedonistic abandon. If we can agree that it is acceptable – even desirable – to find joy and love and beauty where we can, in the midst of all this, then the picnic dress channels summery pleasures at an appropriate pitch. Broderie anglaise says, I am here with my friends and family, and not to swap bodily fluids with randoms. Gingham says, I will go home before it gets dark and I start bumping into each people.

Floral dress, Zara.com.



Floral dress, Zara.

And picnic dressing is more practical than it looks, as we head into a time of daycations and staycations. The unseasonable heatwave of the past week has given us an easy ride into a summer in which it seems that what socialising we are able to do will mostly take place outdoors. Al-fresco dressing in the British summer means keeping warm as well as keeping cool, and a picnic aesthetic works in scenarios where your swimwear-and-beach-cover-up holiday wardrobe will not. A good picnic dress knows how to look summery without being skimpy, which is useful on days when it is a bit goosebumpy in the shade. A picnic dress can be fitted around the waist but it will be loose around the thighs, which is important because it means you can sprawl comfortably on a blanket rather than clamp your knees demurely as necessitated by sitting on the floor in a short skirt. Oh, and a picnic dress is always a dress, not a jumpsuit. If your al-fresco socialising is taking place anywhere other than your own garden, this is a time for a dress, not a jumpsuit.
And picnic dressing isn’t just about the dress. Love Shack Fancy, an American brand with an irresistible Laura-Ashley-goes-to-LA sunny-boho vibe, is the escapist fantasy shopping label of the moment, not just for dresses but for gossamer-fine cardigans – the Folley, in a wool-mohair blend with vintage style rose buttons, comes in a perfect summer-sky blue. Shoes should be easy to slide off, for picnic blanket etiquette. The Loupe sandal by Dune  will work as brilliantly on holiday, if you should ever get one, as it does in the park. This strangest of summers calls for uncomplicated clothes. Real life isn’t exactly a picnic right now. But your summer wardrobe can be.



Source link

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here