The current dress mania is driven in part by the popularity of Mad Men. The secretaries, wives, and mistresses all wear dresses reminiscent the 60s and 70s which is exactly why many of the ones that look the most modern right now look familiar. We’ve either worn them before or remember our mothers in them.
Use volume and design details to call attention to what’s not there. Color, pleats, draping, tucks, and strategically placed gathering are design features that move the eye toward some body parts and magically conceal others. Soft fabrics such as chiffon and jersey create fluid forms that generally need extra volume. Fabrics like crepe, gabardine, and twill are more substantial. They can fit closer to the body and usually need a little more tailoring.
Call it Carnaby Street, Mod, or Mondrian: The visual created by the blocks of color has huge practical advantages in fashion. It’s slenderizing, especially when the design forces the eye to travel vertically. 1. Maggy London, $148. Nordstrom. 2.Calvin Klein $80, Macy’s. 3. Maggy London, $138, Nordstrom. 4. Knit Dress $70, Lane Bryant. 5. Rag & Bone Fulton Colorblock $325, Bergdorf Goodman. 6.Calvin Klein, Macy’s.
The difference between us and the ladies of the Mad Men era, is that we’ve made it from the typing pool to the corner office in style. 1. Keyhole Dress $128, Ann Taylor. 2. Cowl Neck Dress $149, Talbots. 3. Shirt-dress, Lane Bryant. 4. DVF $385, Bergdorf Goodman.
Draping is magical, if you’re curvey, a draped style creates the illusion of an hourglass figure. If you’re slender as a twig draping gives you curves. 1. Donna Morgan Faux Wrap $128, Nordstrom. 2. Suzi Chen Bluefly. 3. Lanvin Dress $3896, Barney’s. 4. Pleat Neck Dress $148, Nordstrom.
Red is showing up as the standout color for the season. In fact maybe red and animal prints are the new black! 1.Beaded Empire Waist $79, Macy’s. 2. Charter Club $60, Macy’s. 3. Wool Sheath $199, Talbots. 4. Animal Print $85. Ralph Lauren.
Pleated style with a little volume can soften and minimize curves (like 1, 3, or 4). If you’re slim, pick a style that’s closer to the body ( like 2 or 5). 1. Donna Morgan $138, Nordstrom. 2. Donna Ricco $138, Nordstrom. 3. Pleated Dress $189, Talbots. 4. Pleated Tie Dress $119, Jones NY 5. Maison Martin Margiela $1055. Neiman Marcus.
It’s become Hollywood legend that under their magnificent dresses, the gorgeous wearers are crisscrossed with duct tape. It’s unappealing to visualize and painful to think about clothing literally being taped to the body. Does removal require one quick agonizing maneuver, or does it take place slowly and painfully over a number of hours? Dressing and undressing should NOT have to hurt.
Here’s how to wear a dress with maximum success and minimal pain.
Buy the right size, then have it altered. It’s practically impossible to buy a one piece garment that fits the body without some alteration. Buy the size that fits the biggest part of your body, and then go straight to your tailor.
Don’t consider any alteration a one-shot deal. People who look like everything they wear was made for them, almost always have their tailor on speed dial. No matter how fine the quality, if the dress doesn’t fit, that’s the first things people will notice.
Watch out for pulling, grabbing, and bunching. The dress shouldn’t pull across the hips or bust. Hemlines and slits should not cause over exposure. No one needs to see your Spanx, or anything else that’s holding you together.
From neck to waist should be smooth. If the dress has a waistline, it should hit your natural waist, with some wiggle room. There should be no extra fabric above the waistline. Anywhere the garment is too loose or too tight needs altering. If the fit exposes a midriff bulge, wear an undergarment that makes it disappear.
Try the dress on before you take it home from the tailor. Take that few extra minutes to make sure the alterations have been done correctly. Whether it’s a special occasion gown or an office worthy day-dress, the last annoying thing you want to happen is to find out at the last minute that the dress doesn’t quite fit right.
Foundation garments can make or break the dress. Shapewear is the closet equivalent of power tools. It can magically minimize midriffs, back fat, tummies, waists, thighs and hips and anything else that interferes with the lines of the dress. If you don’t already own it, buy what you need and wear it to your fittings
If you can’t stand the bra, don’t wear the dress! Even if you’re flat as a Florida highway, a bra will fill in the blank spaces and make the dress look and fit better. If you’re even slightly endowed and think you can get away without one, RESIST. Almost NO dress has enough built in support.
A beautiful dress deserves beautiful footwear. Wear pumps or sandals with a 2 to 4 inch heel, depending on what you can tolerate. A heel that’s too low will look dowdy, and a higher one will cause unsteady teetering. Wear your shoes to your fitting.
Sit, stand, move, bend and breathe. Don’t bring the dress home until you can do these things comfortably while wearing it.