Fashion Trends

Dresses to Live In.

By: Jen Shoop

*Wearing Emerson Fry’s Frances dress above with these handmade earrings. The jeweler has assured me they are working as fast as they can for a restock! You might try messaging her!

I am overjoyed that dress season is nearly upon us. Trivial to be sure, but I feel at my best — most inspired, most complete, most prepared to take on the day — when I am wearing a dress. It’s just uniform for me. And so after months of begrudgingly wearing pants, I am ready for warmer weather. As a dress expert (ha!), I have come to find a couple of key points make for a perfect “everyday dress”: sleeves (short or long — I think most women, myself included, feel less self conscious when wearing a sleeve; there is less to mess with at the neckline, no straps to fix, no bras to hide, etc), midi or maxi length (comfortable and also demure when sitting on the floor with children), and a loose, smocked, or belted waist that does not feel constricting in any way.

Today, sharing some of my favorite dresses to live in for the season ahead. These are the kinds of dresses that are perfectly appropriate whether taking children to school, attending a meeting (obviously contingent upon where you work), grabbing a cocktail with friends, or running errands.

1 // CARTOLINA NANTUCKET OPHELIA DRESS — As described in the copy, this dress is “next level sophistication.” I love the color, the length, the collarless neckline. This looks like something by Emilia Wickstead or Carolina Herrera.

2 // DAPHNE WILDE STELLA DRESS — I love this exotic Liberty print, a perfect moody spring pattern before we hit full on summer. I have had a crush on this brand for ages and am absolutely in love with the oversized fit and dramatic pattern.

3 // JULIA AMORY SHIRT DRESS — I have been living in these. They are insanely, insanely soft — almost like a brushed cotton. And I love the print she did with my girl Pam Munson!

4 // BODEN TIERED MAXI DRESS — Vibrant colors and happy tiers. How can you have a bad day wearing this dress?

5 // VELVET BY GRAHAM & SPENCER GINGHAM DRESS — Somehow on sale for $108 in a fabulous sage green gingham.

6 // REFORMATION MARIANNE DRESS — A saucier, sexier take on the everyday dress look. This would translate well into date night; the fit is a bit slimmer and more body-conscious. I would wear with espadrilles during the day and switch to mules for cocktails.

7 // MILLE RUFFLE DRESS — OK, I’ll stop blabbing about this dress soon but I simply love it. Something spectacular about the boyish shirting stripe against the ruffle at the elbow and flounce at the hem.

8 // MANGO BELTED LINEN DRESS — Such a great value to serve up some Meryl Streep in Out of Africa vibes. I simply love this dress — the color, the cut, the shape. Pair with simple leather sandals and great shades.

9 // JCREW SMOCKED DRESS — I bought this for myself; the pattern reminded me of SEA and the price was right.

10 // EMERSON FRY FRANCES DRESS — This arrived and I could not love it more. It is super flattering on (I love the drawstring waist) and the colors are wonderful and unlike anything else I own.

11 // DAYDRESS DAKOTA DRESS — Such a fabulous bold pattern. I imagine pairing with canvas flats like these.

12 // VICTORIA DUNN FLOUNCE DRESS — Reminiscent of Sue Sartor and Julia Amory (though I do love both of those brands and in particular own several Julia Amory dresses that I live in — they are just so soft), but at a more accessible pricepoint. I love the oversized belt and the punchy pattern, and the sleeves add interest and dimension.

13 // BANJANAN BAZAAR DRESS — The print alone…! I love this brand. She makes dresses in a really light, breathable cotton.

14 // ZARA BELTED PRINTED DRESS — A great everyday dress in a fantastic print. The green color is superb!

15 // ANTHROPOLOGIE SOMERSET DRESS — This dress just looks like a dream to wear. Light, forgiving in all the right spots, in a fun pattern!

16 // TALBOTS GINGHAM SHIRTDRESS — I’ve mentioned this a ton but I just love the length, color, sashlessness! So chic. You can get the look for less with this $30 steal.

17 // MADEWELL COVERALL DRESS — My one exception to the “long length” rule is this coverall dress. I saw it and had to have it. This will look fantastic with a bold patterned Hermes scarf and flats or with sneakers!

A few accessories I would love to pair with this fleet of dresses: this Marni bag (!), these Celine sunnies, these Rothy flats, these canvas furlanes, Hermes sandals in the whipstitch blue colorway, a pile of gold necklaces featuring this cute Logan Tay style, and these mules.

P.S. Great swim for the season ahead. A lot of us have taken the plunge with this dramatic Maygel Coronel. Join the flock!

P.P.S. On valuing presence over productivity.

P.P.P.S. New year’s thoughts.

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6 thoughts on “Dresses to Live In.

  1. These dresses are beautiful! I’m 5’0” and love the look of maxi dresses, but always worry about the proportions. I know you’ve also mentioned being a petite lady, so wondering if it’s mostly trial and error on fit or if they tend to require a trip to the tailor! (Especially curious about the Emerson Fry!)

    1. Hi Erica! I am the same height (twins!), and I will say I have to get the Julia Amory dresses hemmed quite a bit. I like them to nearly graze the floor but they are way too long unhemmed. The Emerson Fry fits perfectly WITHOUT a trip to the tailor thanks to the cinchable waist — you can cinch it in and sort of blouson up the top portion. The Mille one was fringey (actually brought it with me to the tailor, but we decided together not to) but I ended up not having to hem it, which is good because of the flounce — sometimes hemming with a flounce messes up the proportions of the dress. This one, too, works because of the self tie waist. I do think you could hem it by half an inch or so and not tamper too much with the design if you want something that hits at the top of the foot versus skims the floor.

      Hope this helps!!


    2. I had the same questions as Erica, being the same height — I’d been eyeing the Emerson Fry and the Mille as well! Your detailed response was very helpful.

      So many great options in this post! Like you I prefer to live in dresses in spring/summer — easy, comfortable, and still polished for whatever the day might bring.

      By the way Jen, I ordered the Cefinn blue and white shirtdress you linked to a while back (it got marked down to under $100 on Matches) and I love it! While I already have a number of blue and white dresses, the print is so different from what I already own. I was a little hesitant due to the voluminous skirt as I feel like that kind of cut tends to overwhelm me but somehow this one doesn’t — there must be some magical tailoring going on!? Thank you for the recommendation!

      Oh and I might have said this before but I have you to thank for introducing me to Banjanan. I’ve collected maybe 4 of their dresses at this point! They are so light and floaty.

      1. So glad the details helped my fellow shorties 🙂

        I’m so glad to hear that about the CE Finn! I know the exact style you’re talking about. Matches has such fabulous end of season discounts…


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