THE dress of summer 2016

Nikki ParkinsonFashion, How to 48 Comments

HELLO. It’s me.

No, not Adele. It’s ME. I’m back.

How good is a summer break if you can swing it? We did indeed swing it and had a week at the beach (more on that here).

Today I had the need to touch on a wardrobe subject that’s become something of an obsession.

I’m talking about black frocks in summer. Specifically black frocks with a bit of shoulder action.

I cannot get enough of them. And I can’t stop wearing them.

I may need an intervention – or a support club.

But it’s summer, you say? Shouldn’t I be bursting out a riot of colour every day?


Sure, there are plenty of days when colour is my outfit partner of choice but there is something so effortlessly chic about slipping on a little black dress with the heat is on.

So, I’m declaring it – the off-the-shoulder black dress is THE dress of summer 2016.

Well … my “THE” dress. Here’s why I’m calling it.

Why the off-the-shoulder/cold-shoulder black dress works

1. The black fabric is very much balanced out by a show of skin. Contrasts in any outfit are always a good thing. This is the easiest contrast to achieve.

2. Said skin doesn’t need to be tanned to look good. Black looks fabulous with porcelain skin. See point #1 re contrast.

Blue Bungalow dress | FRANKiE4 wedges | Secrets Shhh bangle

Blue Bungalow dress* | FRANKiE4 wedges* | Secrets Shhh bangle*

3. Arms are covered. This is a big win for those who may not want their arms out on show. The off-the-shoulder style will sit just off the shoulder and cover the upper arms, without heating you up. You’ll still feel cool because shoulders, neck and back are exposed. WIN.

4. Most styles include some kind of detail or interest in the patterning or fabric. Cut-outs, broderie anglaise, sleeve design – all of these things lift your off-the-shoulder look up a notch.

Country Road dress | Salita Matthews necklace and earrings | FRANKiE4 Footwear wedges

Country Road dress (sold out – but you can still get the white top in same design, which I may have secured as well) | Salita Matthews necklace and earrings* | FRANKiE4 Footwear wedges*

5. Your choice of accessories is limitless. Add colour; don’t add colour. It all works. Go with how you feel on the day. Shoe-wise, black very much works but why not switch out black for tan or nude for a leggy summer look? Or surprise spice things up with a metallic or leopard print.

Hunt Kelly Label dress | Uberkate necklace | Secrets Shhh bangle | Franki and Maggs bag | Misano heels

Hunt Kelly Label dress (contact via Instagram for details on how to order) | Uberkate necklace* | Secrets Shhh bangle* | Franki and Maggs bag* | Misano heels*

I know from the comments on Instagram and Facebook when I wore these outfits that many struggle with this style of dress because of the necessity to wear a strapless bra.

I hear you.

If it weren’t for the five valid style points I listed above, I probably would avoid it too.

Instead, I strap my 16Ds into a strapless bra for the day or evening and take it off as soon as I’m home.

I get asked a lot about finding a strapless bra that is comfortable. Truly, this is such an individual thing.

What might work for me, may not work for you. It’s not just boob size, it’s boob shape and how wide your back is.

My back is WIDE, so in the quest for a black strapless bra, I took myself off to David Jones after Christmas and tried on about six different styles.

I need a bra – strapless or conventional – without a full cup because there isn’t a whole lot of fullness in the top part of my girls.

Most strapless bras err on the full-cup scenario. It takes a lot of searching, trial and error to find my ideal.

But find I did.

I dropped a crazy-but-worth-it-amount of money on a black lace strapless bra by Simone Perele. What also lead me to this holy grail of strapless bras was a little experimenting with sizing.

I tried going up a back size and down a cup size – so 18C instead of 16D.

And guess what? It worked. Worth every cent. No empty space in the bra where my boobs should be and (relative) comfort.

My suggestion to you – make time to try on lots of strapless styles and sizes. Get advice from specialist fitters and make it a mission to find a strapless bra that works for you.

Black in summer?

Still not convinced about wearing black in summer? Check out these recent posts from my bloggie comrades:

Style and Shenanigans

Flat Bum Mum

So, tell me … do you want to sign up for my black off-the-shoulder support group? Embraced the off-the-shoulder but in other colours? (oops, me too!)

* These pieces were gifted to me for editorial consideration. Full disclosure policy here.

Comments 48

  1. I made myselft a crisp white off the shoulder top which was way out of my comfort zone but I love it! Now I want to try it as a dress in black. But – and maybe I’m a nanna – am not a fan of this look in an office environment. A little too casual for me.

  2. You look lovely in those black dresses Nikki 🙂 So glad I read the comments too as I have a similar sounding bust to you ie flat on top and wide back , D-DD depends if I get 14 0r 16. So I will look at that brand of strapless , thanks heaps for that info.
    I bought a cream lace dress beginning of summer in a waisted style and flared skirt I did not think I could wear with my bust and straight waist but went up to a 16 and it’s soo comfy and elicited some lovely compliments, that I went back and bought it in black in the sale .
    I would never have looked at the CR black off shoulder , as thought my shoulders too wide now with extra weight on , but it looks so good on you ad I like that you say it doesn’t ride up.
    Anyway I just wanted to say how much you have encouraged me to stepout of my box and explore further with styles and brands. Im also loving the Olay regenerist products, everything about them,except maybe the price is a bit more than I like to spend now so I watch markdowns.
    I am decluttering slowly ie over the last year or two, so that I spend on the things that really work and I like , as I tend to buy too much cheaper stuff when I really wanted the dearer item.You get the drift ;-).
    Im home based so Im a bargain hunter of old lol.
    Sorry this is becoming an novel now , just wanted to say one more thing, that I appreciate you telling your health story too as thyroid problems are in my female family , so far Im the exception I think.My daughterinlaw is another story having being affected so young with it.hence I like to keep an eye on articles about it. With thanks and love , Maria xx

    1. Oh thanks so much Maria. I hope your daughter in law can get support to help her – just such a tiring thing to live with. And I love that you have enjoyed the Olay products – agree that if you keep an eye on all the supermarkets and Priceline, you’ll pick them up for less. And LOVE that you’re decluttering and buying less – can still hunt down pieces that last and you love on any budget but the key is making sure every piece you buy makes you feel fabulous! Happy 2016!

  3. I thought I was the only one who hated shopping for and wearing strapless bras! This post and comments gives me hope in finding a better strapless lift contraption. Thank you Nikki and everyone else!

  4. Just ordered the Hunt Kelly black dress! Living overseas, you make it so easy for me to shop online Nikki as we are the same size and build and I know when I see it on you, exactly what it will look like on me. Love the description of the strapless bra scenario – can totally relate! Even gave my hubby a laugh as he has been on the receiving end of traipsing from store to store to find the right fit!

  5. Love it Nikki – nothing like a black and leopard combo in summer too. I’ve got a couple of Simone Perele strapless bras but I reckon my black one’s the wrong size. Need to get a new one so I can embrace the off the shoulder trend before it’s too late! Thanks so much for the shout out too! x

  6. Ha – you’ve got 3! Love them all. And I love black in the summer and all year generally. The finding of the perfect strapless bra is another topic tho’ as I hate bra shopping generally ugh! Happy 2016 🙂

  7. I love the Country road version so much- I saw a girl in it a month ago and have been looking for it ever since, didn’t realise it was Country road. Seeing as it is sold out, what is the next best thing? Looking for something similar for a beach wedding.

    1. Hi Atlanta,
      If you’re a size 12 you’re in luck because Country Road still have this dress available for purchase online (size 12 only).
      That said, the white top version is rather stunning…I’d even consider mixing that top with a structured yet sexy skirt like this one (pants don’t suit my shape very well so I tend to lean towards skirts and dresses):
      I hope this helps 🙂

  8. I love black dresses, any time of year! The best strapless bra for me (14E) is the Intimo strapless bra. Its been the best one Ive found.

  9. I love this dress on you Nikki,it’s stunning and I do like an off the shoulder dress or top,I have 2 maxi dresses and a white top and a black one!
    I’m still not a fan of the strapless bra but I can get away with a bandeau type bra as the girls are on the small side.The only problem I have with off the shoulder dresses as they tend to slide back up,other than than it love Xx

  10. Oh, you look so great in these dresses Nicki…. of the 3 which were the 2 that didn’t slip back up? I have small shoulders and I find that off the shoulder top and dresses tend to ride back up. Would love to find one that doesn’t…..

  11. I have never worn strapless or spaghetti straps for the same reason of not being able to find a strapless bra I could bear on my 14DDs….then I bought a $7 Target ‘boob tube’ style one when I went away for a weekend and somehow forgot to pack any bras (wanted the cheapest I could get). IT IS AWESOME! So confortable and does the job…not vice like, doesn’t bite in, and keeps the girls in place.

  12. I too avoid off shoulder numbers as I can’t find a strapless bra (I’m 14E). Although I recently discovered More Than a Handful at Concord in Sydney (they also have store in Druitt Street CBD) all the bras & swimwear I’ve bought there are perfect. They aren’t cheap but the bras a great quality and last a long time. So if you’re in Sydney and looking for the perfect bra strapless or otherwise give them a try …. I might even buy a strapless one – who know!!

    1. More than a handful are brilliant. They are expensive but worth spending the money to have a well fitting, comfortable bra! I have been fitted by lots of other shops over the years and they were all wrong.

  13. That style and colour looks fantastic on you. I am tentatively embracing (is that possible) the off the shoulder style. I too purchased a new strapless bra in the post Xmas sales so I am all set. So far I have one white broderie off the shoulder top and I love it. Next stop – the black dress! Welcome back xox

  14. I avoid black in summer because as much as I like the idea of black and especially an LBD anytime, I really look better in other colours.

    Having said that, I have an off the shoulder black maxi with splits and a tiny floral print that I bought much reduced at the end of last summer and I do love all the revealing/not revealing cooling elements.

  15. I had the worst experience with a strapless bra in the 80s and never worn them since until now. I sprung for strapless Simone Perele and I love wearing it. I’m a size 18 with small boob’s 18b and I got properly fitted by a woman not a sales girl, it made all the different. Thank you Rozelle Lin & Barrett …..So yes I will bear my shoulders but not my arms lol

  16. hello hello! happy to see you back nikki!
    “I go back to black” everytime hun!
    I love the off the shoulder frocks on you in your holiday shots!
    I can’t wear them as I have matching shoulder moles! … that’s great!;(
    I have been swanning in my loose tops though and if it falls off the shoulder so be it!
    enjoy you day! love m:)X

  17. Definitely love these dresses. Would invest in one myself if I had some dollars left after Christmas and Back to School expenses. Thank you for the recommendation of the strapless bra too. Oh and welcome back. Hope you had a relaxing holiday. x

  18. You are back! Loved seeing your holiday photos on IG. Great dresses, I love black too. I have a Simone Perele strapless bra, it is pretty comfy. I also have a couple of shirred elastic boob tube things I bought from a market, they might be a bit daggy but boy, are they comfortable. 🙂

  19. Welcome back! I do love strapless in any colour and funny you should mention strapless bras. I went shopping for one on the weekend and the shop assistant at Myer told me the same about going up a back size but down a cup size. I ended buying one from Pleasure State.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.