Shopping-filter: Husband's reunion?
February 23, 2014 11:04 AM   Subscribe

I need help finding versatile and preppy-like dresses.

My husband's reunion is coming up and I am completely lost about what to wear.

The whole event is a weekend long with two full days and evenings followed by a Sunday morning. Activities range from campus walking tours to evening parties.

I already have plenty of options for the Sunday morning but I'm hitting a wall with Friday and Saturday. For those days I would need two outfits that transition extremely well from day to night. Saturday night has the highest level of formality (jacket and tie for men and cocktail attire for the ladies).

1. Outfits that are $100 and under would be perfect.
2. The school is fairly preppy and it would be best if whatever I'm wearing sort of fits that (with classic cuts, etc).

TLDR I need a couple of preppy style dresses but really can't afford Lilly Pulitzer and Vineyard Vines.
posted by donut_princess to Shopping (16 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I find a lot of Ralph Lauren and preppy-type stuff at Marshall's and Stein-Mart, I'd definitely recommend looking there.
posted by radioamy at 11:06 AM on February 23, 2014

This is what Lands End was made for.
posted by fancyoats at 11:25 AM on February 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I get a lot of my clothes online at Talbots and J. Jill--they have good end-of-season sales.

You might also have some luck with Modcloth -- lots of preppy, retro stuff, with reasonable prices.
posted by tully_monster at 11:28 AM on February 23, 2014

J Crew has a nice sale going on now.
posted by Ideefixe at 11:29 AM on February 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think Shabby Apple is great for dresses that are classically feminine enough to be multi-occasionally appropriate, but also have enough character to not be classically boring (to me at least). Plus the prices look like they're right in your ballpark.
posted by hegemone at 11:36 AM on February 23, 2014 [5 favorites]

I would either go with J Crew or Banana Republic, or if you wanted to save a little cash, Marshall's and TJ Maxx are great options.

I don't know if there's anything like this near you, but you might want to check out places like Buffalo Exchange or similar "clothing exchange" type stores. I have a lot of luck there because there's a range of brands and styles, and also everything is mega-cheap which is good for occasion shopping. You have to dig around a little (they sometimes accept very shoddy/unstylish clothes), but it's worlds better than someplace like Goodwill.
posted by Sara C. at 11:48 AM on February 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Seconding J. Crew and Banana Republic. You may have even better luck finding something under $100 by going to a store, if there's one near you, than looking over the online sales. It's been my experience that individual stores are able to price some sale items even lower than the prices that appear online, and you can still take advantage of the "40% off all sale items!" deal.
posted by Austenite at 12:00 PM on February 23, 2014

Instead of thinking about specific stores, I'd think a little more closely about defining "preppy" a little more closely.

Vineyard Vine dresses / skirts look like they fit into three categories:
- Sheath dresses
- Fit and flare dresses
- Pencil skirts

Preppy - for me - often means stiffer fabrics, ones that are shapely without clinging.

You can easily find these sorts of dresses and skirts paired with the right jewelry at Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Zara, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, J Crew, Ann Taylor etc.

One possibility could be a neutral (gray or beige) sheath dress that is paired with a sweater during the day and jazzed up with a new necklace for the cocktail party. A pencil skirt could be paired with a white button-down shirt by day and a fancier blouse at night.

Good luck!
posted by frizz at 12:03 PM on February 23, 2014

I'd suggest Boden US. Their "work dresses" are pretty perfect for this.
posted by bearwife at 12:54 PM on February 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

For example, check out the Alexa dress or (a little pricy) the Fleet Street dress or the Portland Place dress. All are classically cut and good looking.
posted by bearwife at 1:01 PM on February 23, 2014

Seconding Boden, BUT full-price Boden dresses are going to be well over your $100 limit. Instead, get thee to the Boden eBay store, where you can find tons of dresses for half their retail price. (It's actually run by Boden, so they've got a returns policy and all the non-sketchiness you expect from a real store vs. an eBay rando.)
posted by goodbyewaffles at 1:04 PM on February 23, 2014 [6 favorites]

There's a 70% off sale going on at Benetton right now.

Ann Taylor is having a sale, and a few of their dresses are just under $100.
posted by deanc at 1:13 PM on February 23, 2014

Eshakti just came out with more spring dresses and there are some I think that would be perfect, including the fifties' striped color block ones in white/black or white/navy and many of the solid colors. Their other prints are maybe not quite right for this? Most of their stuff is under your price limit and there are always coupons and sales going on.

I also love Lands End! Most of their dresses unfortunately don't fit me that well except through Canvas which is probably not the line that you want for this, but it's harder to get more old-school preppy.
posted by jetlagaddict at 2:03 PM on February 23, 2014

LL Bean Signature is also good for this.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 3:09 PM on February 23, 2014

If you're thinking of going with something from Banana Republic, sign up for their email list. They usually send a code for 40% off one full-priced item every Wednesday.
posted by JenMarie at 5:12 PM on February 23, 2014

Thanks for all the tips! It'll be great to have these resources in my back pocket!

I went with eshakti this time but I have checked out the other and am excited about future shopping!
posted by donut_princess at 5:47 PM on February 23, 2014

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