Reviews: Era Plumes Dress, Revisited Impressionist Dress, Stone Harbor Dress, Becca Halter Dress, Striped Fitnflare Dress, Denim Bustier Dress

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A garden in a dress.

Era Plumes Dress ($138) by Maple, size up
style # 25037276; multi (095)

The Era Plumes Dress ($138) has such a beautiful mix of colors. While visiting Anthropologie's store at The Grove in Los Angeles, this dress pulled me across the store and demanded, try me! How could I say no? It's a got a long, slimming shape with side pockets and a v-neck that is generous but not revealing. It's made from viscose and has a lining that is somewhat tighter than the dress. In the back buttons run down the dress while a pictureframe opening showcases the back but will also reveal the bra. There is darting on the sides to create a nice fitted look through the waist.

I started off in my usual size which didn't work. Not even close! So up to an 8 I went...and that didn't work either. Finally a 10 slid over my hips for these shots above, though it was of course tight around the hips and loose up top. So while the name doesn't imply it this dress is a shift and it's cut very narrow through the hips. It means no matter what size I go for I'd be wrong, and that means this dress is a pass for me. I'm also not a fan of the side pockets, which add bulk in the worst possible spot on my thighs. But if it works on your shape I think it's lovely.

Revisited Impressionist Dress ($298) by Tracy Reese, TTS
style # 24853541; green motif (038)

Tracy Reese makes fantastic party dresses. The Revisited Impressionist Dress ($298) is a wonderful garden party dress! Or perhaps a brunch dress? A beautiful mix of sky, flora and greenery are imprinted almost photographically. In the back of the dress four panels come together for the expert fit you see from the front. The tank-style dress is cut inward through the shoulders which I don't like -- I think it makes me look broad across that area. But otherwise I love every little detail. Down in the skirt, the lining is topped by a think layer of crinoline before the skirt itself cascades. It makes the skirt flowy but not too poufy. It's a really nice touch! The back zip is a pain to close but there's some air before a button brings the neck together. It could be worse.

I fond my usual size 6 to fit fine. It was comfortable up top which is what usually forces me into an 8 in Tracy Reese. Not the case here. In-store the dress was styled with the Gleamed Bark Belt ($58). The color combo worked well together. The belt runs large -- they gave me a M/L to try and it was so big I had to tie it around my waist instead of cinching it. But it shows how nice your waist can look in the dress which I appreciate. I own enough party dresses to last me a lifetime, but this one's wishlisted anyway.

I also reviewed the bowed version of this dress in this post.

Stone Harbor Dress ($128) by HD in Paris, TTS
style # 24484024; turquoise (046) or black (001)

I'm not much for peasant style. Still, the Stone Harbor Dress ($128) has many things going for it. The teal color is beautiful. The sleeves have a nice drape from the front and the length is good (just scraping the tops of my knees). Lightweight cotton makes this dress and there's a separate slip in the same blue color included. I love that the slip is removable! The dress has an elastic waist and some shaping darts in the back. It's pullover style which totally ruined my updo but was probably worth it.

I felt comfortable in a 6, my usual size. The keyhole front wasn't too revealing. I guess I almost felt too covered up in this dress if that makes any sense. I think it would be lovely for church or maybe an after-school function but I'm not sure where I'd fit it into my lifestyle. If you like peasant dresses I think this dress does an excellent job of creating more of a shape than the style normally lends. For me though it went back to the rack. 

Becca Halter Dress ($168) by Girls From Savoy, TTS
style # 24564387; red (060) or black (001)

Last year the Gull Wing Dress was mighty impressive (jog your memory with the review here). Girls From Savoy seems to want to repeat that triumph with the Becca Halter Dress ($168), a light and breezy frock that's silky and summery. In my store only the persimmon red version was out and man is it bright! Almost too intense a color to look at. I envision myself sunburned, wearing this dress and blinding people with my radioactivity. Or not, hopefully. The dress has a two front cascading ruffles that criss-cross, a generous sash and a cool split strap. In the back though the fabric falls loosely in a deep scoop and my bra band was clearly visible.

I am between a 6 and an 8 in Girls From Savoy dresses. In this case the looseness meant a 6 was fine, bordering on large. The sash in particular had lots of extra fabric but that's not a complaint! I much prefer a plentiful sash to a disappointing one. I love the length of this dress; I just wish the back wasn't so low. Likely a pass for me.

Striped Fitnflare Dress ($118) by Free People, TTS
Style: 24933509; antique, black or neon ocean

I'm breaking convention for a moment to head over to Anthropologie's sister store Free People. More and more recently I've been wooed by the dress selection of Free People. They've come out with some really nice knee-length, easy-going summer dresses this year. And I want to review a couple in part to make the community aware and also to remind Anthro that these are dresses they should be making!!

The Striped Fitnflare Dress ($118) is a mesh dress with thick horizonal stripes running from top to bottom. Though it is lightweight it is opaque (yay!) and has straps thick enough to conceal a bra (double yay!). It's made from an unfortunate mix of nylon and spandex but I have to admit that it's very breathable. In store this dress was styled under a leather jacket. It's way too hot right now to even think of replicating that but come fall I'd be down.

From the three available color choices I selected antique, which is an ivory color with a beige base. I often have to size up at Free People but here my usual size medium worked well. Don't be fooled by the model shot -- this dress came almost to my knees on my 5'8" frame. It's maybe half an inch above. The skirt flares away from the body gently and I think it would look lovely with a sweater over it in the office. A perfect, delightful, easygoing dress. I bought this.

Denim Bustier Dress (now $70 at FP, $118 at Nordstrom and Shopbop) by Free People, TTS
Style: 24219149; polka dot, railroad stripe or solid
A couple of years ago Anthropologie came out with the cutest polka dot dress. And of course it was strapless. And of course it didn't fit me right (it actually fit hardly anyone correctly, but I'm jealous of those that it did work on!). That dress was the Sun Dot Dress from January 2010. Two and a half years later Free People comes along with the  Denim Bustier Dress (now $70) which answers basically every quibble I'd had with the Anthropologie dress. Instead of strapless we have straps! Instead of bodycon we have a flared skirt! And a defined waist! Have Anthropologie and Free People switched brains?!? I'm beginning to wonder.

This dress is certainly not work-appropriate. But on a hot summer day I'd wear this to a picnic in the park or maybe on a day date. I found the straps thin but surprisingly supportive, and they're adjustable to boot. The bustier cups were somewhat revealing on me (I'm a 34D) but nothing too bad. About what you'd expect from a summer dress. It hits about an inch above my knees on my 5'8" frame when standing but when sitting it barely clears my bottom. This is likely due to the flare style of the skirt. I tried on both a large and a medium and found the medium to fit best (the large was very loose at the sides, and the straps were a little too long even when adjusted).

The dress has a left-side zip. I really like this indigo polka-dot version, though it also comes in a lighter blue railroad stripe and a solid dark indigo that strolled straight of the set of My So Called Life and into Free People's 2012 stores. 

Here's a full body look at the dress. Why, oh why can't Anthro make dresses like this? I bought this dress too, but one final note: it smelled heinous. Like it had been next to a batch of rotten eggs on the delivery truck. A washing took that smell right out but be warned if you try this dress on. It smells no bueno.

Coming up next week: tops. I have sooooo many tops in the review queue, plus a few jackets. Requests? Let me know in the comments! I'm also eager to hear what you think of the Free People dresses. Would they fit in at Anthropologie? Or am I off-base?