Simple? Sexy? Day-to-night? Let us help you nail that wonderful forever frock

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Jess Cartner-Morley: ‘The blameless summer dress is an almost holy object.’
Photograph: David Newby for the Keeper

Right, I’m here to tell you what the fashionable summer scold you need to buy this year looks like. I’m about to lay down the law on whether go uphill prints are more on trend than forget-me-nots, and explain whether a bell sleeve or a trumpet one settle upon hoist you up the best-dressed lists. I’m going to map out those postcodes in which a unmoving shoulder is still de rigueur and those neighbourhoods in which you obligated to switch to a kimono sleeve. And, after that, I’m going to define how to break into your own house at the end of the night, if you are unable to take effect your keys out with you because they don’t fit into your on-trend dwarf circular basketweave clutch bag.

Or none of the above, actually. I’m here to balm you find the perfect summer dress, which is absolutely not the changeless thing as the most fashionable one. The search for this dress transcends vogue for the simple reason that the perfect summer dress is an bordering on holy object. The days on which this piece order be worn are the most precious of the whole year, and that makes the adorn itself a kind of talisman.

There is something nostalgic at the basics of how we think of summer. The summers of long ago stretch out and warm up as the photographs knacker, becoming balmier and more lazy in memory than in fact. Nostalgia never goes out of style, so being on trend in reality isn’t the be all and end all. And besides, many of the best bits of summer are not particularly fashion-forward. There is nothing chill about most weddings, but they are still almost on all occasions brilliant: the fact that the bridesmaids are in lurid mint unskilful won’t stop you welling up. There is nothing modish about heed a pub garden dinner of beer and salt and vinegar crisps with a cup of tea and two upfronts of toast and Marmite munched standing up in the kitchen when you get knowledgeable in, but it remains a stone-cold classic al fresco dining scenario.

Lead turn: Rixo’s constellation print.

I am a fully paid-up bug of erring on the side of overdressed rather than underdressed, but that doesn’t wretched you always have to be edgy. There is something a bit naff near trying to be cooler than the party you are going to. Much more wisely to be the most fun guest at the wedding, the one still twirling baby bridesmaids almost the dancefloor at midnight, than the one whose day peaked with the 11am picture selfie of her outfit.

The most successful summer dresses I’ve accept recently have been lightweight but with sleeves and a fancy hemline. There’s a dark Rixo one with a constellation issue, below the knee, but with subtle, thigh-high splits in the skirt; and a Boden one in commence pink that has singlehandedly converted me to ankle length, because it devises me feel serene even when it’s 27C on the bus. I feel carefree, kind of than exposed. They are cool on a hot pavement, but I don’t get goosebumps comprised in air conditioning. I find they work best in a strong symbols and/or print; the ethereal white-nightie vibe makes me feel a bit illogical – though it looks charming on lots of other people, so each to their own.

Our emend of this summer’s best dresses includes stripes and leopard impress, polka dots and florals. There are Bardot and bateau necklines. Select from short hemlines or long – or plump for dipped, if you can’t redress up your mind. These are not just frocks of the moment, but bandages you will return to next summer, and the one after that. Sustainability, after all, isn’t merely a trend. Which one’s your favourite? Answers on a postcard, desire.