this month in shopping ii: dresses

There is no doubt a new dress is a help under all circumstances.

                                                                  –Noel Streatfeild, Ballet Shoes


[I don’t necessarily mean this month exactly. I mean, the last while. Roughly the last month-shaped distance into the past, with the caveat that my sense of time is often fluid and imprecise, so it could be more like two months…or three. What does it matter? Why am I telling you?]

Yes! So! Shopping!

[vendor images]

Lately a lot of dresses have caught my eye. As little as 4 years ago I didn’t have that many, really (? maybe this is not at all true?), at least not that many I wore, but I identified in myself a desire for more that I would wear. I have probably too many now.

[I am sometimes too much for even myself.]

Here are some recent additions sharing a common denominator of comfortable, no-fuss fabrics and casual yet easily escalated style. In other respects, though, they are all over the place.

My favorite summer look right now is this Grecian-style sleeveless tunic dress from American Apparel, the drawstring tank dress. The fabric is thin enough to give wonderfully crisp pleats, and the quantity of fabric used is generous enough to make a lot of them. Waiting for a sale with AA is so worthwhile (to me kind of the only way it is worthwhile) – in some colors these are $12 right now. Wore this to a party and got nicknamed Andromeda. Don’t even pretend you don’t want that to happen to you.

rsa0304_offwhiteAlso pleased with this open back maxi dress from GoJane, quite plain in the front and then the stunning surprise of the entirely open back (which you know I like). When the draping of the fabric is right a maxi dress can be everything I want it to be. Also, had to get it in black.


With autumn in mind, and I am the kind of person who always has autumn in mind, the long-sweatshirt dress from UK brand Hush, the Two Tone Sloppy Joe dress –which I’ve been eying for a good year, and don’t think the liking is going to go away– was (is!) on sale, and I jumped.

joe4-grna-01 joe4-grna-02A lot of the time with style I think: if you can’t see the appeal here, I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to explain it. We’ve got the classic two-tone baseball design injecting a certain all-American wholesome approachability, a comfy, rumpled boyfriend-sweater look contrasting with the delight of a rather short hemline…I don’t often find this word useful, or even interesting, but this dress is just sexy to me. Like, En Vogue Don’t Let Go sexy. This is a testament to the untrustworthiness of how things look on hangers.

I keep going back and forth about which I like better: loose or tight fitting dresses. While I concede that loose dresses are friendlier in almost every way, I keep finding body-hugging options compelling…and I keep getting them. Picked up a few in the American Apparel summer sale for so cheap. $6 cheap. I like both the long sleeve and the short sleeve  styles. AA has its issues, inconsistent quality, murky leadership, wacky sizing, but they have brilliant color options (images show colors I got) and when I like something from them, I really like it. These do kind of show every cookie…but I say they are versatile.


rsa8358_seablueOn a slightly fancier note, also love this simply draped viscose skater dress by Motel (via asos). I hadn’t been tempted by the skater skirt trend until I saw this, a really pleasing combination of loose and revealing. I like the version with long sleeves, too.


It is really short, but I am not uniformly against that. I think it’s part of the charm here.

In the current era of ready-to-wear [that is, no tailoring (really want to start tailoring things, though – something beyond hemming, which is all my skill level is really up for so far)] you need luck to have something fit well, especially something structured, non-stretchy, zippered, etc. It comes down to the silhouette the company is cutting for, and whether your body is in accord or not. My shoulders are a lot bigger than most companies anticipate, for example. With all of these I tried them on and there was that moment of surprised delight – it hasn’t got anything wrong with it.