Bonnie Dress

Discover: Free People

Free People is the brainchild of Philadelphia native Dick Hayne, of Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie fame. In the 70s, as the store grew from one to two, the name was changed to Urban Outfitters. And as demand for Urban Outfitters grew, Hayne decided to start a wholesale line which took on various different forms before it became Free People. Again. The British version of the website launched in 2012, 8 years after the US one and, according to Forbes, is performing strongly and showing an extremely healthy growth rate as of the the last quarter of 2014.

The brand says it designs for a 26 year old girl (oh…) who is ‘smart, creative, confident and comfortable in all aspects of her being, free and adventurous…’. And whilst I’m not quite convinced that their sales staff are ‘in love with the Free People customer’ as the blurb suggests, I have no doubt they believe in their product. It would be hard not to. The breadth of design in each section is astounding. I scrolled for what seemed like 20 minutes (actually quite a long time) through the dresses, and found it very hard not to include more than 10 in my selection below.

I’m guessing sales tend to hit the roof around the middle of April in the run up to Coachella Festival in Palm Springs, as the aesthetic is overwhelmingly California hippy girl, with plenty of frills, long sleeves, off the shoulder tops, sun bleached denim, dusty boots, and leather sandals. That said, there is a definite European feel to many of the clothes: Flamenco inspired dresses, Greco/Roman sandals and French smocking details on peasant shirts and dresses, as well as Arabic and Eastern influences in the Bedouin skirt (see below) and the Bali pants. I love the confluence of so many cultures and ethnicities, harmoniously merging together in cut, colour and fabric. Together they are worth so much more than the sum of their parts.

The price point seems quite high for a 26 year old girl (all the more reason to focus on us gals over 30), with most pieces ranging between £48 for a top, to £298 for a dress, but I think it’s fair given the huge range, and unique design in each section. It’s like a one stop bazaar of all your favourite hippy shopping destinations, so the savings made on plane tickets probably makes the price about right.

I have selected my favourite summer pieces from freepeople.co.uk ranging from £16 for a strappy bra to £338 for the amazing animal print Baroness ankle boots. I hope it provides some inspiration for your wardrobe this season.

DRESSES

Flirty, frilly, layered, open backed, animal print, long, short, dramatic, simple: Free People has the most incredible selection of dresses for summer. All of which are desirable: I found it so hard to select just 10 below – I could have chosen at least 100. If I had to pick a favourite it would probably be the Bonnie, for pure ease and versatility, pairing it with some beaten up ankle boots and a denim jacket, or just some converse, or roman sandals.

SKIRTS

I like that all of these can be dressed up or dressed down with ease. My favourite is the Shiva lace maxi skirt for the cut and detailing.

TOPS AND SHIRTS

I want every single one of these. I love the louche movement of the peasant top, and the sexy off the shoulder Barcelona tee, epitomising carefree summer days.

PANTS AND JUMP SUITS

Flares! So pleased these are making a comeback. They are very flattering even if like me you are short of leg length, as long as your pair them with some delicate, open-toe heels (people always suggest platforms but I don’t like the clunk-factor), or just with some Bensimon sneakers. I love the inventive twist on the jump suit in the Most Beautiful Romper – perfect for sun downers on the beach.

SANDALS, SHOES AND BOOTS

I don’t care that the Rae sandal would probably wind up around my thighs, they are just too pretty not to include here. Bit of an arse to tie them up every morning but no pain, no gain. The deep red of the Hunt The Plain boots will look amazing with tanned legs and some ripped denim, and the Hierro heels are to die for.

BAGS

How many nice bags is it possible to find on one website? More than I have included here I’m afraid, but to avoid endless scrolling I thought I’d just give you a taster of what can be found on the FP site. My favourite is the Evita backpack, a fun twist on the trad rucksack for hot-desking freelancers.

INTIMATES

Some of the prettiest underwear on the market, and such a great range of items too from bramis (Bra/Camisole) to bralettes to slips, FP has the loveliest array of undies around. And they’re multifunctional too: you could just as easily wear the French Courtship slip in bed, or to a festival.

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