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What I wore this week: the maxi dress | Jess Cartner-Morley

There are some things that you have to leave behind when your holiday ends. Lunchtime rosé. Reading a book as a legitimate daytime activity. I’ll stop there before we both get weepy.

On a happier note, bits of your holiday wardrobe can transition back into real life. The bikinis, the pool sliders, the denim cut-offs, and anything with colourful pompoms hanging off it: those all have to go. Your trad sundress with the spaghetti straps, fitted bodice and full skirt isn’t realistically going to see the light of day for a while. There is, however, a chance of a reprieve for the maxi dress.

A lot can be said for a long hemline in shoulder season when it is too early for tights yet can get goosebumpy with minimal notice. You can swap out those sliders for a pair of flat loafers now and think about Chelsea boots in a month or two. Unless you are super-picky about your silhouette you don’t need a heel, because your legs are covered. Being a klutz, I avoid heels with long dresses, no night out ever having been much improved by falling flat on one’s face.

Even offset by an extra-demure skirt length, almost-naked shoulders are still almost naked. Just as wriggling into and out of underwear half‑shielded by a towel is perfectly civilised behaviour on a beach but would be odd on the 7.47am train, so you need to consider whether the top half of your maxi dress can make the transition to real life. Obviously this is up to you, but the kind of long dresses that have just spaghetti straps and are made of sheer, clingy material with which you can’t wear a bra work really well if you are, say, performing an expressive barefoot solo on stage as part of your job as a rising star of an avant-garde dance company, but less well in your common-or-garden office. If there are layers, or sturdier straps, then the transition is easier.

Finally, do not take floor-length too literally. Yes, gowns look amazing when they puddle generously around your feet, red-carpet style, so you appear to be rising from a lake. However, even if you make it through an evening without breaking an ankle, the hem will get trashed. An inch above the floor – in flat shoes – is better. I am average height, but bought the Next dress I am wearing here in the petite option, so it would be shorter. And, therefore, I could wear it for longer.

Jess wears dress, £45, next.co.uk. Sandals, £62, office.co.uk.

Styling: Melanie Wilkinson. Hair and makeup: Laurence Close at Carol Hayes Management.

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