..oh hello dress blog. Dilemma time. Well, it's not really but at least it's a focus (otherwise researching dresses online is like searching for a needle in a haystack - seriously, where do you start?)
So the issue is... do you go expensive or do you try and find a bargain?
Yesterday was the tale of two dresses. Both bargains. One is a fairy tale and the other has turned into a nightmare. One from M&S and one from Topshop. Both under £50 but even at that price, I would still expect buttons not to fall off a dress after one wear. And I know I can sew them back on but frankly, I don't think I should have to.
Yes Topshop - looking at you. Plus, on closer inspection of the dress (which I may just have hung back up after wearing - slut that I am), it is absolutely creased to boogery on the lap. Which to me, just screams cheap dress. So it's now a cheap faulty dress that is going back. And I'm rather gutted about that as I was going to wear it last night. It filled a great hole in my wardrobe that I wouldn't be surprised to hear other people have too.
The "not quite warm enough for a Summer Dress" shaped hole. When you want to wear a dress. This is coupled with the "too much white flesh on show" issue and so fake tan is needed. But with the copious amounts of bare flesh, brings the massive margin of error for cocking up the fake tan. The more there is to tan, the more there is to make a mess of.
You can hide your legs under a table for the majority of the evening but the arms - and god forbid the shoulders and back - which are at eye level, need to be spot on. And the first couple of times you apply your tan, I find is like making the first couple of pancakes. They never quite work out as well as you'd hoped......
Sleeves are your friend. The advantage of these is that they are also the best bingo wings disguiser ever. I actually don't mind my arms but the two kettle bell sessions that I did last week haven't exactly made a dent in gravity's sagging from having done nothing for the past year. Give me a couple of weeks (so it may be months...) though and you can call me Popeye. In the meantime, I am resorting to the quick and easy option of sleeves.
Which leads me back to last night. Topshop dress was thrown on the floor in disgust (swear words may have been uttered. I really REALLY like the print and the shape but for nearly £50 the quality is just not good and I am sick and tired of being expected to accept "disposable" fashion by the High Street) and I nearly threw on some jeans. But I then spied my good old M&S navy and blue dress that in fact I have only worn once.
Well. Total and utter result. This was less than £30 in the sale and it's the sort of dress that restores my faith in the more reasonable end of the market. It is pure polyester but of the crepe variety which means it honestly doesn't look or feel cheap at all. It does mean that it doesn't crease in the slightest and hangs beautifully. And yet again, everyone thought it was DVF and couldn't believe it was M&S. Teamed with my blue and black Reiss sandals I was really pleased with my outfit.
But I have hardly any dresses with sleeves. And I have lots of occasions coming up in June that I need dresses for. I am sorted if it's warm - some really great options to wear but if it's on the chilly side and I don't get round to perfecting my fake tan (this actually means me not being so lazy and doing the whole regime properly. Exfoliate you lazy fool) I am going to want some dresses with sleeves.
Seeing as I was so pleased with my M&S one (pic at the bottom - yes it is M&S) I thought I'd return to the scene of the crime and see if there were any other gems. The one good thing about M&S is that they don't make their dresses too short. (Warehouse and Mango...... there are women of a certain age who buy a lot of your clothes and don't want to flash their lady bits at the world every time they bend over). And the quality is nearly always spot on, especially for the money. Ok so that's three things.
Starting with one I have high hopes for.
Animal Print Shirt Dress from M&S £39.50 in three lengths I've ordered this with the 20% off (MAY15EM till the 25th May) as in my head it will look great. I think the sleeves might be too short though and there is a teensy risk with a shirt dress that you look like a Coach driver ..... it should arrive tomorrow so I'll report back. I also ordered it in the long and that might be granny length. I'm going to go and order it in the regular length as well.
The other dress I ordered as, whilst I loathe the styling here, I think this could be a fantastic little dress to have in your wardrobe for the odd dinner out. And for £16 it would be rude not to try it. I'm thinking it could go perfectly with my blue and black Reiss sandals. I think this is very XCos
Tile Print Shift Dress was £45 now £16
Ditsy Spotted Shift Dress from Autograph £55
Now this I think is quite interesting.... slightly concerned that in the flesh it might look like it should be worn over a bikini but in my head, it could actually be quite cool in a Marant boho style? (I'm slightly hungover....) This barely scrapes in under the heading of "sleeves"... Maybe one for later on in the Summer.
Mirror Embroidered Yoke Dress £39.50 I think fab with gladiator heels but just as great during the day with flat glads.
This isn't really normally what I'd go for and I'm not sure if it's the one but there is definitely something about this one that is growing on me. Maybe it's that I don't normally do florals.....
Oriental Floral Kimono Tunic £45
Now the other place that has some great options that you won't find elsewhere on the High Street (always nice to know you're not going to run into someone wearing the same thing) is Atterley Road.
And in my current obsession with fabrics not creasing, this polyester crepe mix sounds ideal. It's also unusual to find a black dress for the Summer. This would also take you through to the Autumn with ankle boots. Perfect addition to your wardrobe. Personally I'd prefer a strappier sandal.
Black Crepe Shift Dress from Atterley Road £48 I would love this to be the same fabric as my jumpsuit from Kin by John Lewis. It's amazing. Totally uncreasable and comes out of the washing machine drier than when it went in with not an iota of ironing needed. Don't suppose anyone has tried it?
Another option also at Atterley Road. Now this is more dressy in my book but if you are looking for a dress purely to wear in the evenings, then this would make the grade for me. It may well be the shoes that make it super special though, it does have to be said. They are gorgeous (ponyskin if you look closely...). And I do have a blog on evening shoes in the making, fear not.
Atterley Road Black High Neck Dress £48
So moving onto a variation on a theme - black and white. Yes, I know this is hardly reinventing the wheel but it works. For me anyway. I have black shoes. I have black sandals. I have black blazers. Oh and I have black bags. It makes sense to buy dresses that go with the majority of things I already have so I don't have to then start buying a whole new tranche of accessories. (yes it was me who typed that. Clearly it doesn't stop me buying more accessories....)
Hence, this black and white number from Whistles caught my eye. And there is 20% off on Whistles at John Lewis at the moment. It would be rude not to have a look....
Whistles Louisa Dress £88 Mosaic black and white
Same style again in the Bloomsbury Print also now £88
Whistles Shibori Spot Shirt Dress now £88 But not in my blasted size and it's £110 everywhere else. This is not going well....
Still need to look at a couple of places. Cos and The Finery are always good but certainly with the former, their delivery is so slow (the perils of being part of the H&M stable)
So my M&S dresses are arriving instore tomorrow. And I also have to go and pick up the suede skirt which I may have returned and re-ordered with the 20% off making it £160 - far more palatable. I did panic earlier actually when I went to order it and it had sold out in every size bar an 8. But they now have restocked in most sizes.
Here I am in the outfit from last night - out for a dinner party, having plumped for the saviour of the M&S shirt dress from a couple of months ago.