Monday, October 24, 2011

Adding Vintage Glamour Part 1: Rock the Frock: The big secret about Dresses

I might get in trouble for this... but I'm going to let you in on a big secret. Wearing a dress, or as I prefer to call it, "frocking up", is the very epitome of making an effort, right?  When you show up in a dress, people know you made an effort. You care about being wherever you are, and you put a little time into getting dressed for it. Wearing a dress is the way you say "This is important to me!" with your clothes. 

... right? WRONG.

That may well be what people THINK when you show up in a dress, but the reality couldn't be further from the truth. Without a doubt, wearing a dress is one of the laziest, easiest ways to dress.  Easier than track pants and a hoodie. Easier than tshirt and jeans.  And if you choose the right dress - just as comfortable.

With a dress, you can just throw it over your head and walk out the door. No fussing about trying to match top to bottom, just one piece and you're done. You instantly look "put together" and get all the benefits of the assumptions above. But the effort you've made is very little indeed. This is the secret that all dress-wearers, (and you, now) know! Maybe you already knew this, in which case I hope this is a helpful reminder.

There really is a dress for every occasion: 
A dress for every occassion

Oh, I can hear you. "Its not that easy!" some of you are saying. "Choosing the right dress is hard!" 

Well, that bit can be easy too. If you know how. 

So.. how to choose the right dress? Here's how I do it.

At the store, I ask myself..

  • Will I need to iron this, ever? (You can naughtily scrunch the fabric in your hand a little, and see if creases form. If they do, you'll need to iron.) Unless I really, REALLY love the dress (and everything else about it is perfect) AND I'm prepared to put in that time commitment every time I wear it, I leave it in the store.  See also - Will I need to dryclean this? 
  • Is it sturdy? Are the buttons/embellishments etc attached firmly? I don't want to be fussed with repairs or finding replacement buttons if one comes loose and gets lost.
  • Does this fit? If I am unhappy with how tight or how loose it is, it's not the dress for me. If it's gaping or straining across any point, it's not the dress for me (no matter how much I love the design). Take a good long look from every angle and decide if the fit is good or not. If it's not - leave it in the store. There's plenty of other options. 
  • Does it hit me in the right spots, on the sleeve, neckline, and hem? If my bra straps are showing, or it's gripping me uncomfortably on the sleeve, or the hemline looks frumpy or wrong - unless I am willing and able to alter the dress.. I leave it in the store.
  • Where would I wear this? It's all good and well to fall in love with the amazing ballgown with the bustle skirt (and believe me, I have, many times)  but unless you have a suitable formal event coming up, that dress is going to sit in the back of your cupboard gathering dust, a waste of money. Think about where you could wear the dress you're considering. If you can see yourself happy in it, out and about, then it's the right one for you.
  • Does this fill a gap in my wardrobe? If you already own something just like it, maybe you don't need this one as well. Keeping your current wardrobe in mind when you're shopping can save you a lot of money. 
So, keeping these things in mind you've acquired yourself a few (or more) lovely dresses.  How to choose which one to wear?

When dressing for an event, I ask myself..
  • What's the weather going to be like? Am I going to be mostly indoors or outdoors? What fabric weight and sleeve/skirt length is going to keep me suitably cool/warm? Maybe adding another layer or a different choice will be needed, and it's best to have thought about this before you've headed out and its too late. 
  • What is the formality of the event I'm attending? Is it a wedding? A shopping trip? Meeting friends for lunch? A job interview? Thinking about this will inform my decision on which dress to choose. 
  • What shoes (accessory, etc) do I want to wear, and which dress will match them? Sometimes the outfit planning doesn't have to start with the main piece. If I want to wear a particular pair of shoes, or my new necklace I want to show off, or something else, I'll start with that, and build what works around it. 
  • Will I feel good in this? Think about where you're going, how you will be feeling, and how you want to look. I always try to choose something I know I will be comfortable in and feel good in. Fashion's meant to be fun, after all - otherwise, what's the point? 
So - there you have it. Every reason in the world to "Get your Frock on"! I'd love to hear your thoughts. Are you a dress lover or a dress hater? Why? 

Go on to part 2, and Try A Cats Eye

This post is part 1 of my five-part series about "Ways to inject vintage glamour into your everyday wardrobe.. without looking like you're headed to a costume party." 

Dresses featured above:

Red Day Dress 
$68 -

Trixxi plus size dress
$180 -

Plus size dress
$55 -

Rose dress
$20 -

Plus size dress
$140 -

ASOS short sleeve dress
$105 -

Short dress
$97 -

Calvin Klein metallic dress
$140 -

$30 -

Print dress
$59 -

Sleeveless dress
$41 -

Sleeved dress
$99 -

Elie Tahari pleated dress
$134 -

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  1. I could count on one hand after a sawmill accident the number of times I have tried on a dress and felt good in it.

  2. I love dresses; actually I hardly own any trousers! Dresses are simple, elegant, & cover a multitude of sins. Frocking up for a particular event or mood is especially fun :-)

  3. Thanks for you somment! I couldn't agree more, though I do wear a lot of trousers as well.. :)

  4. It's weird, ten years ago when I was goth, I practically lied in dresses and skirts. Now I hardly wear them. Somehow they became too much bother. I suspect part of it is that I always feel the need to wear stockings or tights with them. When I'm carrying a little extra weight like I am now, bare thighs rubbing is not a good thing. Any suggestions for getting around this for summer?

  5. OOh yes, the dreaded "chub rub", as I like to call it :) Some people find that powder or moisturiser works.. you can also buy boy-leg underwear. I have a pair of cotton bloomers that I wear under dresses sometimes.. it's a bit kitsch but cute at the same time! :)