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Educated Shopper: The Dress Series

I love nothing more than a good dress. In the summer, sun dresses are cool and refreshing to slip into. For colder months, sweater dresses make me feel like I'm walking around in a blanket.  They're a win-win year round. I also have a truly massive collection of dresses and you're about to see the highlights.

I have broken this series into three posts - dresses that work for my shape, styles that might work, and ones that definitely don't. In each picture, I tried to avoid heavy "styling". I'm wearing nude heels (Jessica Simpson at Marshall's, $20 on sale. Score!), but that's about it. My foundation garments are the Fantasie Smoothing Strapless, a Berkshire Shaper, and the Freya Taylor Plunge. In the first post I've added a belt to one dress, but there are no other accessories used in this series beyond that one.

With only a few exceptions, these dresses were purchased years ago so most of them are no longer available. Also bonus points to whoever can correctly guess the celebrity line at a big brand store that I was clearly obsessed with, circa 2008-2009.

Now, some basic findings:


  • If it doesn't fit, it looks like crap. This is pretty basic, but I think I may have some body dysmorphic issues going on. I always size up. I think some of the "bad apple" dresses would've looked better, if I'd just bought the correct size in the first place. In my defense, I do have a hefty ratio between my waist and hips so I might have sized up in the past to get the additional booty room.

  • It's all about the shoulders. Who knew!? This wasn't something I was expecting when I had the idea for these posts, but most of these dresses have some crazy shoulder action. You'll see a lot of cap, ruched, puff, and off-the-shoulder sleeves. I think these details balance my chest and, to a lesser extent, my hips. I have a relatively small frame so this trick might not work on everyone, but it's something to watch out for.

  • If you style it right, you can save an unflattering dress. I think that if I added a skinny belt or classic blazer to some of my "bad" dresses, they'd look completely different. While taking these photos, it was tremendously difficult to resist the temptation to pull on a sweater or add a necklace.

  • It depends on the garment itself. I tried so hard to make basic "rules" for these posts, i.e."no empire waist cuts". Then I'd find some slammin' empire waist dress that seemed to really flatter.  Like dating, apparently there are no hard and fast rules for dress shopping. It comes down to trying things on and the knowledge that the bust might run large (Awesome for me!). I have the sneaking suspicion/fervent hope that some name brands cater to my demographic and consistently cut their garments with more room in the bust.

Alright, with these conclusions in mind, let's take a journey into my dress collection...

Side note: I wanted to give a BIG thank you to Mr. Underpinnings who took every picture you'll see, was extremely patient with my less-than-stellar modeling skills, and provided several witty asides ("I didn't like the jungle dress with the skeleton inside.").

One Comment

  1. [...] It Works: When I first wrote about dresses, I mentioned the body con style and there were a ton of reader suggestions that this dress type [...]

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