Reviews: Given Then Gathered Column Dress, Midsummer Flora Dress, Allegra Boatneck Dress, Changing Stripes Dress, Oleander Openwork Shift, Melora Dress, Scalloped Stripes Dress

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Anthropologie makes all their cutest dress designs strapless...what gives?

Given Then Gathered Column Dress ($128) by Bordeaux, TTS
style # 24724130; bright red (063) or turquoise (046)

Perhaps the longest product name ever, the Given Then Gathered Column Dress ($128) is actually a simple ruched dress in two beautiful color options. The ruching helps to cover any flaws, and as someone who both hippy and busty I appreciate the way the cowl on top helps to balance everything out. The dress is a modal-spandex combo that wants to slide along the skin; I'm not in love with this material but it's not awful.

This dress seems to run a bit large; there are lots of extra folds and such in the medium on me above but I didn't size down because the medium worked across my hips. So size down if you have fewer curves; stick with your normal size if you're curvy like me. I appreciate that this dress fully covers the knees without going all the way to tea length. It manages to not emphasize my calves which is no mean feat. This would make a great client meeting dress or a nice casual evening dress. Wishlisted!

Update 7/12: I had a chance to try on the striped version of the dress...

...which fits exactly the same as its solid cousin. You see a small on me above which was the only size available in the store. This dress is selling quickly in NYC but I personally prefer the solid version.

Midsummer Flora Dress ($248) by Leifsdottir, size down
style # 24351678; multi (095)

I'm willing to give anything by Leifsdottir a shot. With the Midsummer Flora Dress ($248) it was the color scheme that initially attracted me. I love the purple and red and blue and green all mixed together. It's made from silk so light and airy; the length is also great as it lands just below my knees. This dress has a lovely romantic quality to it.

It also has a lot of extra material. Seems as though with Leifsdottir I'm either sizing down to a 4(!!!) or up to a 10 and this dress was another case of the former. I tried my usual 6 but a 4 would have been better. The dress also seems a bit shorter in back than up front. This is odd. One final quirk -- there's no lining. The front v dips down generously so you'll need to layer something under this for sure. I ended up feeling like I was in a nightgown so back to the rack this dress went.

Allegra Boatneck Dress ($118) by Maple, size up
style # 24538688; sky (045)

For the last couple of years 50s shapes have been all the rage. You'd think this would fall right into Anthropologie's wheelhouse but their attempts thus far have been mostly lackluster. They've gone too far off the deep end with length, or cut, or shape. The Allegra Boatneck Dress ($118) is the best effort to date; a dress that is mostly successful with a few quibbles.

The dress is made from soft cotton. The back is mostly open with two wide straps bringing the sides together; my bra didn't show at rest but I wouldn't be surprised if it shows while moving. A wide waistband helps to define the waist and an uneven hemline of pleats and such.

If the Von Trapp household had striped curtains, I think Maria would have made a lovely dress like this. It's very flattering and easy to wear with a timeless style to it. It's not exactly a modern shape though; I think the uneven skirt is my biggest issue. The sleeves are just long enough to avoid flying away. I tried on a size 6 and though it fit I felt like my chest was being over-emphasized. I'd size up to an 8 to buy.

I do like this dress but will wait for sale to decide. For now, wishlisted!

Changing Stripes Dress ($158) by Maeve, TTS
style # 24575813; black motif (009)

*dusts off the ol' soapbox*

And now for the part in Effortless Anthropologie's reviews where I complain about how Anthropologie makes its cutest designs strapless, thus alienating the busty customer contingent. Thanks to the alluring quality of these designs I own 4 or 5 strapless dresses which is 4 or 5 too many. In the fitting room I always fool myself into thinking thhat with the right bra the dress will be fine and damn it's too cute to resist. But without either a) sewing a bra into the dress (as I did with Lil's Lace and Light Dress, OOTD here) or b) faking my way through the day with an uncomfortable, unsupportive strapless bra it's an utter failure.

Oh sure, the Changing Stripes Dress ($158) comes with "straps." But they're about as effective as dental floss. Would this dress look any less cute with thick grosgrain shoulder straps? I think not. But alas here I am again, in love with a strapless dress that I really shouldn't buy. Blargh, Anthro. Blargh.

*steps off the ol' soapbox*

Meave has taken varying degrees and thicknesses of stripes and combined them into one super-cute dress. Though it's hard to tell the bottom hem also has a stripe of green peeking out from underneath which adds just one more dimension of cute to this dress. I love how the bodice has different stripes, and I love the origami-like side pockets.

Sizingwise my usual 6 fit nicely, but was tight across the bust in the push-up bra I was wearing. The v-tip of the bodice will show some cleavage depending on which bra you wear and your cup size. I tried the dress later with a different bra and that worked much better. This dress is a cotton-linen-poly mix that's lined and machine washable and wonderful. But I really shouldn't buy it.

...which means of course that I'll probably give in if this dress hits sale. I am weak!!

Oleander Openwork Shift ($188) by Postmark, size up if curvy
style # 24540718; neutral (014) or black (001)

So I'm going to go in a different direction than the product page reviews for the Oleander Openwork Shift ($188). If you have curves, this dress sucks. Yes I know it's a shift which will of course be cut more narrow than an a-line or even a straight shot. But I have been able to make many an Anthro shift work. This one not so much. Even with the shift shape this dress still has issues. The shape of the neckline (conveniently obscured in the model shot) makes it hard to wear a bra. There's a back square vent which is a nice touch in a work dress.

The dress is a sturdy linen material that seems susceptible to wrinkling. It's surprisingly thick. The top portion features 3D florals. It's lined at least so nothing will show through. In the shots above I'm wearing an 8 but I had no qualms about trying a 10... 

...which wasn't really any better. I had a lot of bunching around the middle in both sizes, probably because the dress was squeezed over my hips. So yeah, this dress will be a pass for me. Too bad because it's very pretty.

Melora Dress ($118) by Moulinette Soeurs, TTS
style # 24518987; gold (070)

The Melora Dress ($118) is just a polka-dotted version of the Sweet Enticement Dress ($118, reviewed here). Back in January I'd wishlisted the original hoping for a sale on the winter-ready date dress. Joke's on me! It's still full price and Anthro keeps churning out new color and pattern options.

Like its solid cousin the Melora is a cotton-spandex mix that feels funny to the touch. The skirt is thick with pleats and the bodice has tuxedo pleating down the front. And like the Sweet Enticement Dress I found my usual size 6 to work well; it was maybe even a bit loose.

The real differentiator for the Melora is the back...

...where the contrasting white lace makes for quite the lovely picture. I don't think I'd buy this at full price but it's got potential on sale. If it ever hits sale. In the meantime, wishlisted!!

Scalloped Stripes Dress ($128) by Bordeaux, TTS
style # 24872442; blue motif (049)

Bordeaux puts a slightly different spin on stripes with the Scalloped Stripes Dress ($128). The stripes are actually little tiny lines of scallops that run across the bodice and skirt, meeting at a defined waist. Little sleeves have contrasting vertical stripes to give this casual dress a feeling of summery joy. The modal material is very soft and feels a bit fragile; a full lining is also modal.

I found a medium to work great. The skirt just grazes the tops of my knees (I'm 5'8"), thankfully a more plentiful skirt means it works fine. The sleeves are a little longer than short-sleeve but not unpleasant. This dress feels pretty light on and is fun to wear.

Here's a closeup of the scallops. Click on the photo to zoom. The price seems right but I'm waiting this one out. For now, wishlisted!!

If you have any review requests please let me know in the comments! I'll be back with more dress reviews tomorrow morning.