Summer dressing can be tricky. You want to be cool, so this means nothing clingy, but equally you don't always want to look like you're about to go poolside - you want to dress appropriately for city life as well... so what to wear?


 via Camilla


Well, judging by the runaway sales of Camilla worldwide, one of her floaty, silk, multi-patterned and embellished Caftans are the way to go. These have become something of a staple amongst the mothers at any Summer school function in Australia, and you'll see them at weddings, Black Tie balls, poolside at a resort or beachside in January on Aussie beaches, and given they're one size fits all, you could say that they're the most versatile piece of clothing out there.

via Camilla

Sadly, I do not own a Camilla caftan, as on the few occasions I've tried them on they have a tendency to overwhelm me. I'm not fond of busy prints on myself (love them on others), and being rather short they drape on the ground. The salesgirl helpfully informed me as I stood in puddles of multicoloured silk that I should just tuck it up into my knickers on either side, but I haven't done this since year 7 "Pop Bang Go" handstand competitions in the school yard, and don't feel so inclined to do that again. And if you're paying upward of $590 plus for an item of clothing, I don't want to have to tuck it up, or tie it up or whatever other tricks are required to make it fit shorty me.

via Camilla

But one reason why they work so beautifully is that the silk is light as a feather, and drapes beguilingly around the female form. Even if they're long and loose, you get a suggestion of shape underneath, which saves it from being a sad sack.

But I've noticed a recent fashion contender for the Camilla Caftan crown - Peasant wear.


Vita Kin, via Matches Fashion 

Firstly it was in the form of Ukranian style peasant dresses with their voluminous sleeves and heavy embroidery. This look can be seen all over the world in cities as diverse as Sydney, London and New York and about as far from the wheat fields of the Ukraine that they originated in.


Perhaps it was Yulia Tymoshenko, the former president of the Ukraine who entered the world stage when tensions were high with Russia in plaits and peasant garb, that managed to get the sisterhood to adopt her style of dress in worldwide solidarity?


a Vita Kin design via Matches Fashion, £1,988

But unlike Camilla, they don't translate to lounging by the pool in a resort, while doing double duty down at the local shops. So, really, you need something else simple, and peasant like, to while away the days on a beach in the Bahamas.

via Moda Operandi

And the perfect dress has been found by Pippa Holt. It's the Mexican Peasant dress. They're boxy, practically standing away from the body stiffly on their own allowing plenty of air flow to circulate under their tent like structure in the tropics.



via Moda Operandi

They're mostly cut mid calf length, therefore allowing not the slightest hint of chub to be seen - you could be any size at all in these! Unfortunately though, for anyone not 6 foot tall, I suspect that they will give the distinct impression of squat, peasant like proportions. It would also appear from all the model shots on the beach, plus the manner in which Pippa is standing, below, at her Bergdorf's opening that you have to stand at all times with your legs apart, and preferably one popped out to the side to make this look work.


Just like Angelina Jolie did that time at the Oscars.



Otherwise you just won't carry this look off. I suspect the peasants find having to do this quite exhausting when they toil in the fields.

Pippa has a team of Mexicans hand weaving these dresses, and they're available for US$850.

Which goes to show why most peasants don't own more than one dress - these things are eye-wateringly expensive! It costs a lot to live the simple peasant life, clearly.

24 comments:

  1. I've looked at Camilla clothes and I can't say they do much for me (not my style and the patterns too busy). Which is a good thing because I'm 5 foot 4 and not super skinny (and they don't fit my budget). I am quite happy with a dress from Boden. I use to see quite a few Seymour mums in them at functions. I got a bit over some of them being dressed up to the nines at drop off or the swimming carnival. I'm glad Brisbane is a bit more casual. I've spent the last two years filling my wardrobe with linen dresses for the heat and humidity.
    Interesting post.

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    1. Linen is perfect for the tropics, although I do like silk too. THe problem is the creasing!! Appreciate what you say about school functions etc with Camilla. They are quite ubiquitous - I think they tick a lot of boxes for a lot of women, and given the range of prints you'd be fairly unlucky to have someone in exactly the identical kaftan at an event. As for dressed up - I have seen a full sequinned mini dress at the school gates on a mum at 3pm on a random Tuesday, but it's more likely that you see a lot of women in Lycra... certainly it's a very mixed bag!

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  2. LOL, love the light hearted tone. Feel like a fraud in Camilla, boxy dresses make me look bigger (I call it the Small Clothes Paradox), ditto the voluminous Vitakin dresses, though I appreciate the artistry of all. My summer uniform was Uniqlo tees and Kit & Ace silk culottes this year. I would adore an Alix of Bohemia jacket for winter but I'm not very bohemian, to be honest.....have you bought into any trends recently that you regretted?

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    1. Anything big on me really overwhelms - the big sleeves on the Vita Kin dresses would look quite weird on me as I'm not tall enough to carry it off... I think if you're short these peasant things just make you look very peasant like.
      I'm trying to think of trends I've bought into lately - I've been fairly boring with clothes recently and have only really bought classic basics. In fact my husband seems to think that I only buy the same things over and over!! Same dress styles, same pants, same shoes, same same...! I think the one thing you can successfully say about my style of dress is I'm not particularly fashionable. I bought a wicker handbag a year and a half ago, which would be the most trend driven item probably?

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  3. Too funny!!! At nearly 2k you're right. Fancy potato sacks aren't really flattering are they? X

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    1. I'm sure there must be something at that price range that is more flattering?! x

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  4. If you ever find a maker of chic 'petite' clothes please do share the info. Like you I am less that 5'4 and now find that, having reached a certain age, that I am getting shorter. Who knew? I've just had a pre-winter blitz of shortening pants and jackets. Yes, jackets. We shorties can't take too much volume. Makes us look like beer barrels. Judith

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    1. Agree re the volume Judith - I guess as an alternative I tend to wear tunics, like the Tory Burch ones, with slim cut cropped pants. The Tunics are light weight, give good sun protection as they have sleeves and high necklines, and at the beach or poolside I just wear them on their own over bathers. I think ultimately you have to find something that has shape to it when you're on the shorter side.
      Shrinking?! Oh no!! Now you've given me something extra to worry about!! xx

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  5. I apologise about my negative comment about the Camilla caftans. I was feeling irritable last night when I wrote it. I can't believe the sales girl suggested you tuck it into your knickers!!
    Yes I like silk too in the sub tropics. I miss lots of things about Adelaide, but do enjoy people being a little more casual here and less pressure. Having said that I hate when people don't dress appropriately for occasions.
    I always enjoy your blog posts.

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    1. It's hard to strike a balance I think between not dressing up too much and the pressure that puts on other people, and not being so casual that you feel overdressed if you're not in a tracksuit :) I found Brisbane fairly dressy when I was there last, but in a different way to Adelaide - it's definitely a more casual feel in that it's very summery, but lots of colour and bling that isn't seen here in Adelaide. Here I always think of the Seymour mums in head to toe Sally Phillips, so big feathery neck pieces and drapey tops and drop crotch pants. The very casual tropic feel up North is Cairns to me - no shoes at the supermarket mall, and shirts optional!!

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    2. You are spot on about the Sally Phillips :-)
      Yes there is definitely a lot more colour, even in winter I'm rarely wearing grey or black (which I think of as an Adelaide winter uniform). Thankfully Brisbane is not no shoes or shirts.

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  6. I have some Camilla things. I do not like those Holt peasant frocks. And $850 is a lot.

    Behave xxx

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    1. You look great in Camilla! I think it's very you with your love of a Kaftan, colour and bling. Plus you're tall.
      $850 is a lot for something so boxy in cut and so unflattering. But people are seemingly falling all over themselves to wear it!! xx

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  7. Love the Camillas but they don’t suit me at all either and I’m not short. I think its a confidence thing too. I’m a bit enamoured with silk at the moment and have been collecting floaty, cool dresses and the odd caftan shape long top. I love linen shifts too as I seem to wear mostly dresses and they can be dressed up or down. T-shirt jersey is good too for really casual. But hey, it’s wintery weather now and I’m now dreaming of hot weather! I found when I packed for a European summer last year that silk was the most practical. Rinsed out and dried easily and didn’t crush. Linen - not so easy. Tonkath

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    1. You could be right about the confidence thing - I think a lot of people can carry things off with a bit of confidence, rather than feeling a bit silly and uncomfortable.
      Linen requires a lot of ironing when travelling, which is a bit of a pain I think. It's good in Asia where laundry services are cheap, but in Europe I don't think you'd want to send it through the hotel due to the cost, and washing it in your room wouldn't really work at all. x

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    2. Still like to wear linen shirts over long pants when travelling - with a tank top under. Can so easily dress these up or down. French hotel laundry services can be remarkable. This klutz managed to spill almost a whole spoon of red berries in juice down the front of her fave white trousers. Tried rinsing it out myself but looked as though I'd made it worse. The hotel laundry here in Aix en Provence was given the challenging task of removing the stain. They actually did it!! KIND OF A MIRACLE! Have nothing but praise and admiration! So worth paying for!
      Weather here warm and sunny so have to obey my skin specialist and wear long sleeves - hence the linen tops - Don't want any more probs with skin cancers. I do like some of the Camilla scarves with their sparkles.
      You and FF both know exactly what suits each of you - different things of course - and always look wonderful! Pammie xx

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    3. I'm so glad to hear they managed to remove it! But anything organic in origin (like berries) can be taken out by UV - just wet it and let it dry in the sun. If it's still there repeat until it goes. Possibly a little tricky in a hotel, but something to remember at home. Your trip sounds so wonderful, hope you continue to be blessed with good weather and good times x

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  8. Camillas just too busy; Vita Kin's quite nice. As a flagrantly hetero white male, GSL couldn't even say 'Mexican Peasant' without facing Hate Crime charges.
    Those Yulia braids remain the most fab Iron Curtain Headdress.

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    1. "As a flagrantly hetero white male, GSL couldn't even say 'Mexican Peasant' without facing Hate Crime charges."
      Lol, GSL!

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    2. I had a feeling you wouldn't be a fan of the Mexican peasant look G!
      Agree - I love Yulia's braids. Still waiting for them to catch on...

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  9. Lol! Thanks for the funny post! I love your clothing reviews and all your clothing related posts.

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    1. THank you! Glad you enjoyed it x

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  10. I am super tall (180cm) and adore peasant dresses. I have several, the ones I own are short though, sitting well above my knees. I do have very long legs though. I adore wearing them and most summer days I will wear one with a pair of sandals. I also have several silk dresses that I frequently wear and are fabulous for travelling with. As for Camilla they are far too loud and busy for me. I have never actually tried one on, but at my height I would definitely be making a statement were I to attend an event in a Camilla Caftan and I would be so self conscious. Emma xx

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    1. I had no idea you were so tall Emma!! We have opposite fashion problems then - I have to hem absolutely everything. Interesting though to hear your thoughts on Camilla. I too would feel like I was trying to draw attention, and when I think about a common thread with my wardrobe choices it's probably fairly tailored and pared back. I think that's partially my height restrictions, and partially just my liking... carries through with my interiors too I think! You'd look great in a peasant dress though - unfortunately with my height I really do just end up looking like a peasant...! x

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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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