One dress, five ways: How I styled my favourite dress for summer

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Tradlands Nico Dress in Caroline print

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Over the past year or so, I’ve become increasingly aware of what goes into the clothes I wear: who makes them, what kind of conditions they’re made in, what materials they’re made of and how company practices impacts the environment.

I’ve been participating in the #20in2020 challenge, an Instagram challenge where you, as you might have guessed, purchase only 20 items during the year. While I haven’t fully succeeded (I’m already close to my limit and it’s only mid May), it has forced me to think even more consciously about my purchases and opt for items I’m going to wear dozens of times instead of the one-and-done approach to fashion that has become so common place.

Summer dresses are one of my favourite wardrobe staples — I love the ease, femininity and beauty of them — but since I’ve been trying to cut back on purchases, I knew any I added this year had to fit in line with my ethical, sustainable purchasing philosophy.

Enter the Tradlands Nico Dress. I’d had my eye on this since the brand gave a sneak peek on Instagram a few months ago, and I was lucky enough to get my hands on this dress in the world’s most beautiful Caroline print before it sold out (which was literally in a couple of days!)

After weeks of lusting, I finally received this in the mail a couple of weeks ago. This dress is absolutely perfect. The unique print was designed by artist Caroline Corrigan, and it’s truly so special, and unlike anything else I own. The dress is slightly oversized without being baggy; to me it reminds me of a perfect vintage dress, but more flattering. It’s made of a 70% tencel/30% linen blend, which is super soft and lightweight, yet not clingy or sheer.

While it’s definitely not “cheap” (it retails for $197 USD), one of Tradlands’ key pillars is cost per wear — which basically means that if you buy something well made (and sustainable, and ethical...) and invest more up front, the cost decreases as you wear it more and more. So whereas it’s more expensive than a $50 dress from a fast fashion retailer, the idea is that you’ll wear it more consciously for years to come — which I definitely will. Plus, Tradlands is a sustainable and ethical company that I really respect and adore, and they make beautiful clothes that I can feel good about wearing, too.

To further the cost per wear philosophy I’ve been trying to adhere to more and more, I wanted to show five ways I’m styling this dress for summer — for everything from scorching hot days to chilly nights. Check out my styling below, and let me know what you think in the comments.

If you’re looking to snap this gorgeous dress up, unfortunately it’s completely sold out in the Caroline print — but if you sign up for the waitlist, you’ll get first access to restocks (which I’ve been told will be in June - I’m already signed up for the Cameo!)

And if you can’t wait that long, Tradlands actually just released the Nico Dress in a new, gorgeous pale blue colour: Surf — and if you’re looking to purchase, you can use the code WFH15 for 15% off.

The Nico Dress in Surf

For full transparency, Tradlands generously gifted me the Nico dress and Box top — all other items included are items pulled from my own closet!

Look 1

Tradlands Nico Dress in Caroline and Everlane Day Glove flats

This is the easiest way to wear this gorgeous dress, and the way I feel most comfortable! I love the slightly oversized nature of this dress and the lightweight (yet not sheer, don’t worry) fabric. I’m a huge summer dress fan because dresses really require no work — you just throw them on and go — and especially if they’re this pretty. For this easy breezy look I paired the Nico dress with my favourite flats (I have six pairs), the Everlane Day Glove, but I’m also thinking about switching the flats out for a pair of slides (I have my eye on these Wilder ones).

Look 2

Tradlands dress and blouse

For the second look, I paired the Nico dress with another Tradlands favourite, the Box Top in Vintage Denim. This ultra-soft short sleeve blouse is a favourite tucked into jeans or shorts, but I also love it tied over a summer dress. I love the print of this dress combined with the perfect blue denim, and I find tying the top accentuates my natural waist, since the dress itself is so flowy. To make this look a bit more dressy, I wore a pair of woven Loeffler Randall heels I picked up on sale.

Look 3

Luna was too tired to move (I feel ya, girl)

This is basically a version of the outfit I’ve been wearing for the past week, as it finally starts to warm up in southern Ontario. As the days get warmer, I can’t help but slip into a pretty dress like the Nico, but I need a little extra warmth when the sun disappears or when the wind picks up. For this particular look, I paired the Nico dress with another Tradlands favourite, the Jude sweater, which I purchased a couple of months ago. This photo doesn’t do this sweater justice — it has the most unique honeycomb knit pattern, and is so soft and lightweight while still being cozy. I’ve worn this at least three times a week since I purchased it, and love how it looks paired with everything from jeans to dresses. It also features a curved hem which I find ultra flattering, especially over a dress. I paired this casual look with my Everlane Tread trainers.

Look 4

Another cozy sweater

I paired another Tradlands sweater with the Nico dress for the fourth look (do I own other brands? Not really....). The Shelter Cardigan is a Tradlands customer favourite — and something I wear literally year round with everything from sweatpants to dresses. The easy shape makes it perfect to throw on over a pretty dress when the temperature drops. My footwear of choice (Everlane ReKnit mule) is a bit out of my comfort zone — at first, I thought the lilac shade ~clashed~ but then I realized A) who cares, I love the colour and B) the gorgeous shades in the Caroline print are muted enough that they’re basically a neutral. So the pop of pinkish purple makes this look all the more summery, IMO.

Look 5

Boots forever, even in summer!

This look is pretty similar to look 4, but I used my cardigan as a makeshift belt. I love wearing my sweaters around my waist because it gives me a bit of a ‘90s vibe, especially when toughened up with a pair of leather boots. The difference between this and look 4 is largely due to the boots — I love pairing a pretty, girly dress with a pair of boots to give it a bit of an unexpected edge. These boots are Nisolo, which unfortunately only ship to the U.S. (I bought them in Nashville!) — although I think you can get them via Garmentory!

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