Reviews: Twist & Refresh Dress, Anatolia Dress, Split Diamonds Shift, Flared & Cabled Sweater Dress, Lace & Light Dress, Tiered Stripes Dress, Dulcie Dress

Sunday, November 6, 2011

It's pretty dress time once again at Anthropologie.

Twist & Refresh Dress ($168) by Ganni, TTS
style # 20803672, color info to come

I'm not sure if this dress will still be called the Embossed Basket Dress ($168), but given the dress's reappearance on Anthropologie's website I'd wager this new black & cream version will be online soon one way or another. Update 11/15: it's online with its own name: the Twist & Refresh Dress. With almost the same top as the cream version and the same bottom as the black version this waffle weave combines into a cute dress that's part modern and part classic. Remember when Anthropologie used to make cute dresses like this all the time? Nice to see these kinds of designs back in play. The differences between the Embossed Basket Dress and this new variant are the sleeve length -- short sleeves are replaced by a longer elbow-grazing variation and a gentle v-neck replacing its ancestor's scoop.

A medium fit nicely. The waist is just long enough -- it still hits an inch or two above my natural waist but doesn't turn from regular to empire the way another dress in this reviews set does. The dress grazes the tops of my knees, making it about 36 inches long or so. The material is pretty soft and a back zip makes for relatively easy on and off with some contortion required. I love that this dress can play so many roles: work dress, night out dress, casual party dress. That makes it wishlist-worthy!!

Anatolia Dress ($298) by Leifsdottir, TTS
style # 22775233, black (001)

I had visions of making the Anatolia Dress ($298) from Leifsdottir my 2011 New Year's Eve dress. Unfortunately that plan was shot to hell once I started reading the online product reviews which report that this is less a dress and more a top. I was bummed out though my denial persisted -- maybe it would somehow be long enough on me? The Chelsea Market Anthropologie in NYC afforded me a chance to decide for myself.

Design-wise this dress is gorgeous. It looks like the night sky. Circular pieces of fabric line each shoulder Sequin beads line the neckline, including a keyhole and sheer panel. Pleated panels on each size converge and diverge as you walk. The design is exceedingly beautiful.

It's true however that this dress is really short. It may not seem like it from the photos above but as soon as I sat down full bottom was exposed. Not awesome! My usual size 6 was otherwise fine; maybe a bit boxy but I don't mind that out of a party dress, er, top...whatever. The reports seem to be that even more petite gals are finding the dress short. So that pretty much kills any chance of this being my NYE dress which is too bad because it's a beauty. Back to the rack.

Split Diamonds Shift ($188) by Tabitha, size up
style # 23416787, black motif (009)

Nouveau meets mod in Tabitha's Split Diamonds Shift ($188). This dress is the same shape as the Pom Flower Shift (jog your memory here and the Drafting Shift (reminder review here) with a new pattern but without the folded neckline. The material feels about the same and like its predecessors the dress hits me at the top of my knees. I love the black and turquoise combination.

Since this is a shift that meant I had to size up for my hips. An 8 fit well, nipping in nicely at the waist before expanding to accommodate my lower half. The overall look is flattering from just about any angle in a work-appropriate shape. You could easily throw a sweater over this dress if needed. I do have one quibble with the dress -- the exposed back zipper is tacky. I wish it was covered over. I've wishlisted this dress for reconsideration at sale time.

Flared & Cabled Sweater Dress ($148), size down
style # 23451958, dark yellow (071), bright red (063) or ivory (011)

The Flared & Cabled Sweater Dress ($148) continues my long tradition of not looking right in Anthropologie's sweater dresses. I've given up trying to figure out why cables and thick knits look really weird on my body. It is what it is. This particular dress is a thinner knit, with flared cables emanating from the waistline. There's no zipper -- it's pullover style or bust.

I found this dress to run large. The medium found the waist falling too low so I traded it in for the small you see on me above. I'm still not happy with the way it looks. particularly the way the cables stretch over the bust and the way the triangle pleats at the hips add bulk. This is the way it seems to go for me with sweater dresses so this comes as no surprise. On the plus side, the length is good (hitting mid-knee) and the wool is not itchy. This dress doesn't work on me but seems like a well-made option for cabled fans. Pass.

Lace & Light Dress ($258) by Lil, size up
style # 23541196, black motif (009)

Gathering Breeze Dress, meet your winter sister. Lil's Lace & Light Dress ($258) is a line-for-line remake of the summer cousin with a new added bonus: a beautiful silk sash. The sash really makes the dress in my opinion. While the Gathering Breeze never really tempted me grabby hands abounded upon spying this new version. A slightly structured light corset is overlaid with black lace while the jersey skirt tumbles below. Jersey is an odd choice here. I guess it makes the skirt durable but I would have expected something a bit thicker. There are no straps with this dress -- that's my bra.

I sized up two sizes to a 10 before the dress would zip over my bust. I am tempted here despite the impossible for breasts neckline. There's a problem though. The back is so low that you can't even finagle a strapless bra underneath this. It's a corset bra or no bra at all here. It could just be that I'm watching a Vampire Diaries marathon with some friends while writing these reviews and that makes me a bit emo, but why oh why does Anthropologie release all these pretty dresses that are strapless and low cut? How about some pretty tank-topped party dress? I'd even settle for a halter top at this point.

Pretty, pretty dress that I can't wear. Back to the rack.

Tiered Stripes Dress ($188) by Bailey 44, size up for curves
style # 23453269, purple motif (059) or red motif (069)
I guess this pattern will get every possible manifestation! Not that I mind. The latest version is the Tiered Stripes Dress ($188) which is basically the Layered Column Dress (reviewed here) with sleeves. And as we've learned previously at Anthropologie sleeves cost about $10. Another change is that instead of just basic black this new version comes in colors! Purple or red with stripes.

Bailey 44 has some great touches with this dress. My favorite thoughtful detail is how the pattern lines up at the seams! Hallelujah, it is possible! Though this dress hits at the calves it somehow avoids the matronly look many dresses of this length have. And somehow all the stripes woven zigged and zagged combine into a flattering shape.

I'm still not in love with this dress, mostly because the dress highlights the shape of my thighs more than I'd liked. I sized up to a large which helped somewhat. With an overcoat this dress would be a winner for me but on its own it's too body-hugging for my taste. This is mostly due to the rayon-spandex mix of the material. This dress is dry clean only which you'll want to consider before taking the plunge. I applaud the design but won't be buying this for myself. Pass.

Dulcie Dress ($158), size up if busty
style # 22932032, neutral motif (015), black motif (009)

Oh, Weston Wear. I love you. You make all your clothing in the USA and that is awesome. Sadly your Dulcie Dress ($158) doesn't love me back. It wants to make me look all bust and swimmer thanks! The design is so sweet. A lacey top portion meets a tutu-style skirt that hits right at the knees. They come together via a well-done raw hem that should fall at the waist. But if you have any sort of chest the dress rises up, leaving you looking like I do above.

I tried on both a medium (shown above) and a large. The large was a bit better in terms of where the waist landed but it was also too big otherwise. I would love to see a second version of this dress with a longer torso. I'm sad this version didn't work out.