With spring’s mercurial nature, we’re after hardworking garments to see us through to warmer days – and a long dress is the epitome of minimal effort, maximum reward. Some winter styles might spill over into your end of year wardrobe. But there’s nothing quite like the feeling of a new dress to recalibrate your style agenda. We know that maxiskirts are having a moment – these dresses in statement prints and pared-back silhouettes prove the hemline is here to stay.

Prints charming
The good news is that slipping a vibrantly printed dress over your head means you can call it a day on any other real styling effort. Florals for spring might not be groundbreaking, but they’re a classic – and there’s enough variety out there to keep it feeling fresh. La Double J’s long-sleeved swing dress certainly speaks for itself, with its almost retro-style floral print and bright sunset tones. Veronica Beard’s silk Anuli dress marries the structure of shoulder pads with a flowing asymmetrical hem and sweet daisy print, and Juliette Hogan’s graphic black and white silk Mei dress would look just as good with a black blazer as it would on its own later in the year.

If you’re into the eye-catching black and white vibe, Sir the Label’s Realisme twist maxidress channels the look with abstract aplomb. Lee Mathews adds to the line-up with its sheer overlaid Marina maxi. The Love Is All Around dress from Kiwi brand Twenty-Seven Names is the ultimate throw-on-and-go, with long sleeves, a high neck and custom red print – pair with ballet flats, your favourite sneakers or high-heeled sandals for (literal) elevation. And Matteau is a name not to be missed: the brand’s signature one-shoulder style and tiered square-neck silhouette deliver dainty additions.

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From nine to five
What constitutes workwear varies – but you almost can’t go wrong with a sophisticated dress in a hardworking fabric. Harris Tapper’s Andree dress comes in a beautiful herringbone tweed, while Wynn Hamlyn’s grey pinstripe woollen Tandi dress could be styled over a white button-down for bodiced office realness – and worn on its own for after-work antics. Shirt dresses are a fail-safe for ease and comfort; Camilla and Marc’s corseted Penny dress comes in black and white, while the brand’s Iris style shows stripes are always a winner. Jac & Jack echoes this mood with its self-tie belted Osman and Granada styles. Lee Mathews balances a long hem with short sleeves in the Nikita bib-front style and locally-made Yoko dress.

Daytime darling
Sometimes, you just want to throw on a dress for errands or a lunch date and feel put together but not too “done”. Ganni’s Broderie Anglaise maxidress adds just the right amount of drama with a smocked bodice and short puff sleeves, while Marle’s linen Sage dress takes a more pared-back approach to pair with platforms or sneakers. Kowtow’s tangerine cotton racerback dress adds a cheery bolt of colour, and Cos proves a blank canvas that you can accessorise up or down as you wish is a constant favourite with its contrast-panel T-shirt and lace-trimmed sleeveless styles.

Gimme the night
If springtime event dressing has you sweating or freezing, an elegant long dress is your new best friend. Pastels are coming to play from several Kiwi and Aussie designers; sidestep Barbie pink for Maggie Marilyn’s soft candyfloss Challenge Accepted dress, get icy (visually) with Camilla and Marc’s pale blue Karsten knot dress, and float about in Zambesi’s minty silk Tunique dress – all would be chic with an oversized blazer for warmth. Proving black is anything but boring, Harris Tapper’s beaded Andree dress is made from bonded satin and dotted with amber resin beads, while Verner’s T-shirt gown dress manages to combine a creative shape and interesting cut-outs with warmth and an effortless feel thanks to its Tencel jersey fabrication. Paris Georgia’s black and cream Talullah dress in a slinky ruched finish continues the long-sleeve theme.

Knit it good
The forecast is heating up but a knitted dress is the MVP for staving off any unwelcome chills that might still show. Wynn Hamlyn’s pale blue Derry dress is made from a heavyweight yarn, with the label’s signature cut-outs adding interest to the decolletage. You could go bold with a visible underwear moment in the Tanzania dress by The Garment – or layer over tights and under a gilet for cooler days. Kate Sylvester’s knitted Birdie dress is another cut-out cutie, while Paris Georgia’s Bobbie dress feels snuggly as it sculpts all the way down. Most comfortable in black? Anna Quan’s Larissa dress is the type of knitted frock you could live in daily, and Wixii’s Sphera cashmere silk dress is a party in the back – sleek sophistication at the front.

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