Voluminous frocks are light and comfortable and can be worn for dancing. Retailers are betting that the big, bright dress will be the fashion choice for the socially distant summer as we remove our jogging bottoms.

Designers are using a variety of terms to describe the loose, midi-length style that is ubiquitous in current collections.

Marks & Spencer in collaboration with Ghost launched a range of patterned midi-dresses this week. John Lewis and Kemi Telford, an independent brand, will collaborate next week to create a range of brightly patterned, roomy dresses.  The current crop at Other Stories includes a marigold silk gown with a Bridgerton-inspired neckline.

Lyst, a global fashion platform, reports an 87% increase year-on-year in searches for “voluminous gowns”. eBay reports that year-on-year searches are up by 158% for “tiered mini dress”, and up by 130% for “puff-sleeve maxi dresses”.

The peer-to-peer rental app By Rotation reports a 600% increase in bookings since the lockdown roadmap was announced, with dresses making up 70% of that.

Eshita Kabra Davis, the founder of the company, stated that comfort is our top priority. She had spent much of the past year wearing loungewear so flowing, breathable dresses were a good compromise.

Jo Bennett, head of women’swear at John Lewis, stated that “the mood has undoubtedly changed” and reported an 89% increase year-on-year in dress sales. “We believe the ‘breezeable’ dress is the perfect transition piece. It offers great style and comfort without sacrificing the comfort we are used to.”

These dresses can be worn over thermals and polo necks, tights or trainers in beer gardens until the mercury rises. However, they are practical in many ways, with their generous proportions making it easy to forget pre-Covid preoccupations like depilation, fake tan, and tailoring.

“Crucially they feel like freedom – loose, light and bright – ideal for dancing in the sun, feeling happy, emancipated or even trying to!” Amber Butchart, a dress historian, said that it was an awful year.

The roaring 20s saw a shift in fashion that echos today.

She said that although these styles are not directly inspired by 1920s fashion, they do have a similarity to 1920s evening wear. These could include loose or low waistlines and light fabrics that encourage dancing. “Maybe, we’ll be charlestoning through this summer.”

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