Help me find warm dresses this fall/winter
October 8, 2012 12:56 PM   Subscribe

Help me find winter dresses!

Hi! I am a thirty-something female looking for warm winter dresses (i.e., long sleeves) to buy. Also, recommendations for quality tights and leggings (if appropriate under dresses? I never know.)

I like the idea of a winter uniform of dress, boots and tights but I can't find anything that is both warm and not too short. It doesn't have to be sweater dresses, but those are nice too. My work is fairly casual but I like to look "together."

I'd say my style is classy/fun -- anthropology/madewell, perhaps? But I've exhausted both of those stores.

Any ideas?
posted by caoimhe to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 99 users marked this as a favorite
Boden! Their prices can be a little steep but they have frequent sales. And if you get something there, you're unlikely to run into someone wearing the same thing. I also get a lot of cute dresses with sleeves on Target's website - it's hit or miss but it's easy to return the misses. And it looks like Lands' End has some cute dresses with sleeves too. Good luck!
posted by kat518 at 1:04 PM on October 8, 2012 [4 favorites]

Have you looked at Boden for dresses? I previously dismissed them as frumpy, but I don't know if they've improved or I've just gotten older (I'm 31), I love a lot of their winter clothes this year.

And Danskin are the only leggings worth a damn. They're pricey but they last and last and you never have to wonder if your butt is showing through!
posted by crabintheocean at 1:04 PM on October 8, 2012

Garnet Hill also loves the winter uniform of dress + boots + tights.
posted by apparently at 1:06 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Land's End and LL Bean and lots of layers. :)
posted by tilde at 1:12 PM on October 8, 2012

You don't say where you are, and that would be a help.

You're lucky you can wear boots, I have hellaciously thick calves.

I've always liked the look of a suede skirt with boots. I wouldn't pay that much for it, but I'd watch it to see if it goes on sale, and then I'd use my coupons.

Here's a skirt that's much more reasonably priced and it would be great with boots. Also nice and toasty warm.

Or a plaid one.

The skirt can be worn with a turtle neck, a starched blouse with a sweater vest over it, or just a nice blouse. Statement jewelry optional.

This dress in the red color would be pretty.

This is listed as a tunic dress, so conceivably you could wear leggings under it.

This color block thing is in now, although it's not my thing. But I like the shape of the dress and it would look nice with tights and a pair of low heeled pumps/mary janes.

This one is super flattering and can be a good basic black dress that you can change up with accessories.

There are a lot of sweater dresses, but to me they look dated, especially the ones with the cowl collars (yuk!)

I liked this Ralph Lauren. Spendy, but very pretty orange color and I see this as being in your wardrobe forever. You can get a nice, thick leather belt, or another statement necklace, or a scarf. Lots of options.

I like shopping at Macys, good sales and they let you meander if you want or they'll help you if you want.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:13 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Lands' End definitely has a lot of colorful, easy-to-dress up dresses this season (and a billion sales, seriously, sign up for their email list if you're interested.) Many of their dresses pair well with blazers or more structured/warm tops. I bought a wool blend sweater dress from Ann Taylor loft two years ago that has been outright amazing; it's got shorter sleeves, but it's easy to layer with tissue tees and tights. And it's warm. And fuzzy. I will say it looks substantially better when worn with a belt to cinch it in, as do most of my Lands' End dresses.

Tights: DSW and Marshalls often have really high quality tights, mainly cotton but sometimes wool. If you enjoy colors, I find that warm winter tights are a way to perk up layers of sweaters or more neutral colored dresses. Trouser socks and extra layers of decent socks hidden inside knee-high boots are a great way to add insulation; this would also work for wearing your leggings as tights with your boots. Be careful with the thickness of the leggings when dealing with thinner dresses if you're not wearing a jacket-- I have some lovely thick pairs of tights that show up like anything through any dresses in clingy fabrics. I And as some kind person pointed out to me last year, fleece-lined black tights are a thing and they are wonderful. I saw some at Urban Outfitters yesterday.
posted by jetlagaddict at 1:21 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

As posters have said above, I highly recommend Boden. Another somewhat similar British import that I'd highly recommend (although I'm not sure it has any brick-and-mortar stores in the States) is Brora. They're rather pricier, and specialize in luxury cashmere, but have beautiful, flattering, and easy-care dresses. I especially like their jersey dresses, but I also have ruched non-stretch wool dress from last year or the year before that is also comfortable and classy looking. They used to tend to run *slightly* big, if you're using the usual [British size - 4 = American size] formula, however I think over the past year or two they may have made things a bit smaller. For reference, I'm a curvy American size 6, and I usually now wear a UK 10 in Brora jersey dresses, although I have a couple of UK 8s as well (but I like dresses fitted). The wool dress that I have is a UK 12, but that's to fit my busty frame. Brora is very well made, albeit expensive, and I believe it's all made in factories in England that are clean and nice and pay British people fair wages. They also have occasional sales, especially at the end of season. I think if you order online from America, you probably get British VAT back (17%?), so the total price including shipping abroad may even be less than the quoted price online.
posted by UniversityNomad at 1:26 PM on October 8, 2012

To add onto the list of British designers, if your budget allows for the shipping, I adore Hobbs. Lovely fabrics, well-made, and their tweeds and knits are very well-lined and warm for winter. Their sizing tends to run small (this is great for me; it would be less great if I had any cleavage whatsoever) so check their conversion charts for American sizes carefully.
posted by jetlagaddict at 1:36 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

For tights, I really love Land's End Women's Opaque Tights. They are very opaque, so if you prefer more of a sheer look, skip these. But they are very comfortable and stay up without sagging.
posted by OrangeDisk at 1:44 PM on October 8, 2012

To elaborate, with specifics: from Brora I'd recommend these cashmere ribbed tights, and these cashmere lace tights. Both of them are reasonably warm (although expensive), and I think they look really nice with dresses and boots. You could also wear a pair of cashmere socks (e.g. these or these) on top of the tights and under the boots, for extra warmth and to try to prolong the inevitable time when the heels of the tights will get holes in them from wear.

Their dresses are on this page, and I think various of them are cute (especially this one), depending on your body shape and best features. I have one of their cashmere dresses, and find it super warm and really cute (this is the one from this season, but I have a cowl neck one from super-reduced clearance from a few years ago). I personally have a weakness for their wrist-warmers, which I find look nice with the dress/tights/boot ensemble, and keep my wrists and lower arms warm both outside in the winter and also inside if I'm typing and the heat is down. They have various (short, long, cabled, patterned) on this page; however I don't know if it's just me and my apparently burly hands (!), but the men's ones fit me much better.

Also, I seriously don't work for Brora or have any affiliation with them. I just found their stuff accidentally a while back and have been very impressed with it, and my winter style sounds similar to yours.
posted by UniversityNomad at 1:44 PM on October 8, 2012

re: tights, SockDreams usually has awesome cashmere and angora tights and knee-highs in the winter.
posted by elizardbits at 1:52 PM on October 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

I also second Hobbs! And also Jigsaw, where I've gotten some great stuff; French Connection (I've gotten wool skirts from here and I'm sure they have nice wool dresses); and Linea, from House of Fraser. Additionally, on occasion Phase Eight (although that can look sometimes decidedly too old for me, and I'm in my twenties), and various lines from good old Marks & Spencer (although again, sometimes too mature and/or frumpy - it's hit or miss). Also maybe Viyella, which is, again, hit or miss, but seems currently to have a nice jersey dress and a few cute wool dresses). All of these I believe are British - I've lived for many years in Europe, so I'm more familiar with the offerings on that side of the Atlantic, and I tend to think they do the whole dress/tights/boot thing better. My top two recommendations for warm day dresses would still be Boden and Brora, and possibly Hobbs too.
posted by UniversityNomad at 2:05 PM on October 8, 2012

Athleta has great winter weight dresses and they usually come in three heights and several colors.
posted by fshgrl at 2:33 PM on October 8, 2012

My favorite winter clothes are woolly dress, leggings and boots and a long coat. No split in the middle when its cold!
After I found COS, the high-end brand of H&M, I only rarely go to other stores. It's value for money, "timeless" enough to last several seasons, and simple enough for looking elegant at work and being dressed up with tights, bling and heels after work. I have no idea if you have a store nearby, but they have an online shop.
Also comfortable - a big issue with me. I am very curvy, and their sizes are good, but unlike many stores for curvy people, they don't make a big deal out of it. I'm not in Mad Men, and I prefer more serious clothes. My petite and not curvy sister loves them too, as does my 19-yo daughter, so they must be good at real women in a broader sense. obviously, we don't choose the same items. You must know yourself, or try out some stuff to get it right.
I like their neutral colours. I have scarves and gloves in various qualities and bright colours and some with patterns, and crazy cheap jewelry to brighten it all up. Sometimes I buy a pair of red or green wolford tights, if I feel too black or beige. Also, they do have colour sometimes. I have a lovely green dress from COS.
posted by mumimor at 3:49 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'd say my style is classy/fun
Have you considered thrift/vintage? Winter dresses predominate in such shops (due to their superior survival odds) and are often much warmer than the currently manufactured norm.
posted by feral_goldfish at 5:58 PM on October 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sweater tights are awesome! I saw a bunch recently at Nordstrom Rack.
posted by radioamy at 6:54 PM on October 8, 2012

I love Trasparenze Gennifer wool tights. Good compromise between expense and durability.
posted by mskyle at 8:58 AM on October 10, 2012

Because I am trying to find maternity clothes (for a twin bump!) right now I am unable to wear any of the lovely winter clothes I have from my favourite British, infact, Cornish inspired shop, Seasalt. Their clothes are beautiful, very often wool led, and intended for a place where winter is largely freezing rain and sea fogs All The Time. Cheaper than Boden, all have washed and lasted perfectly. Excuse me while I go weep about never being able to wear any of my old clothes again....
posted by Augenblick at 12:54 AM on October 11, 2012

« Older I'm a designer taking a Treehouse course on iPhone...   |   Help me outfit a budget home gym Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.