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July 18, 2017 1:47 PM   Subscribe

I want to spend a lot of money (for me, anyway) on a dress I may be unreasonably obsessed with. Give me the go-ahead or talk me down? Plus size dress question inside.

For absolutely no reason I can identify, I've become fascinated with Universal Standards' Geneva Dress. My enthusiasm for it has been met by blank looks by friends, who think it will make me look blobby. I am also scared I will be blobby, especially since I don't have much of a waist. I am also prone to falling into fat girl things like "this shows my belly and therefore I cannot wear it" kind of thinking.

This and this are full length photos of me. Can you make an assessment on the blobbiness that would or would not ensue? Is there a Universal Standard dress that would be so much better for me that I am clearly overlooking? Or can you tell me if you have this dress and love or hate the quality or its general attributes? I've studied the size photos they have and I still can't make up my mind.
posted by PussKillian to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (57 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
The dress is cute! You are cute! If you love what you're wearing (and for some reason this is especially true with dresses) you will glow and it won't matter if some people have the completely subjective opinion that it's 'blobby'.

But if all else fails you can create a waist- Would you be willing to belt it? That color would look so good with a brown or tan belt.
posted by Syllables at 1:50 PM on July 18, 2017 [10 favorites]

I am also prone to falling into fat girl things like "this shows my belly and therefore I cannot wear it" kind of thinking.

This is the exact opposite of the way you should be thinking (at least, if your goal is to match as closely as possible the silhouettes deemed attractive in today's society). You don't want to look crammed into any outfits, but the worst thing you can do as a large person, outfit-wise, is put on something sack-like. It will only make you look bigger and more formless. That dress doesn't define the waist at all. I imagine it's popular for people who are super-anxious about showing bumps and lumps of any kind (legitimate anxiety!), but, no, it will not do your figure any favors. You will look amorphous in it.
posted by praemunire at 1:51 PM on July 18, 2017 [8 favorites]

Do it! You can return it if you don't like the fit.
posted by homodachi at 1:52 PM on July 18, 2017 [12 favorites]

FWIW, I've heard from multiple friends that this particular dress is hella flattering and great. It's kind of directional -- so you're going to look possibly like a cool art gallery owner more than you would in, say, your classic fit and flare dress -- but I've only ever heard rave reviews. It's definitely kind of a Fashion Cool Girl silhouette, but it's very modern, and I think you should get it. I don't think it's blobby -- it's sort of a take on the classic bias cut, and certainly will be skimming your curves.

If you buy it and you try it on and don't like it, you can always return it. I would, however, not belt it, because the cut of the dress itself is not intended to be belted and that will muck up the lines and I think turn it goofy.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 1:53 PM on July 18, 2017 [49 favorites]

And I'm on the fence about it! I think your figure would probably do just fine in this dress (and you do not look "blobby" to me). It will all just be about how the dress fits on your form and how it moves. I'm a little concerned about how those sleeves look, they may be too gappy but who knows? It looks like a great dress to accessorize around and super comfortable.
posted by amanda at 1:54 PM on July 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

DO IT! You will not be blobby, you will look elegant and amazing and city chic. I ordered the Georgia dress from them a few months ago and was worried about the same thing, but it is THE most effortlessly glamorous thing I own and I wear it all the time. Like all the time, I've thought about ordering a second one that's how much I love it. I also think there is a lot to be said for ordering from a company that gets plus-sizes and doesn't make you feel like an afterthought--the whole experience made me feel like I was ordering from Madewell or something.

I don't have the Geneva dress, but I've been eyeing it. Do it!!! Worst case, you hate it and can return it--you'll know right away whether it makes you look blobby or not, but in my experience ruching like on that dress helps give it (and you) shape. The only thing is that I can't tell from your pics is how tall you are and where the Geneva would fall on you--I'm 6' and the Georgia is quite long on me. If I were shorter I might hem it.

If it helps, I usually wear a size L in tops from Old Navy and Gap, and a size 16 in dresses and jeans; I ordered a Small (14-16) and it's just right--I wouldn't go larger and could even go one size smaller, I think.
posted by stellaluna at 1:55 PM on July 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

I love the drape! Interestingly, I think the photos make the small size look slightly blobby but is much more flattering to the L and XL. I don't like the way the sleeves sit on the very busty models, so consider how that might hang on you. Give it a shot, and return it if you don't like it.
posted by aimedwander at 1:57 PM on July 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think that dress will look awesome on you! Order it... if you feel beautiful in it, it is worth it!
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 1:59 PM on July 18, 2017

I would say that it's definitely worth a shot, but you won't know until you try it on. IME, drapy stuff like that is really sensitive to precisely how it it falls on you, it might look great, or it might look like a potato sack. But that's the nature of shopping on the internet -- if it works, fantastic, and if it doesn't, it's not you, it's the dress.
posted by LizardBreath at 2:00 PM on July 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Free shipping and free returns! ORDER IT. I think it's awesome and will look great on you but if not at least you'll have tried it and can put it out of your mind.
posted by mama casserole at 2:00 PM on July 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

Order it! They do free shipping and free returns so it is literally zero risk. I'm about your size and I find dresses are really hit or miss for me, much more so than separates -- I have to try things on to know if they will look awesome or terrible. So free shipping/returns are awesome. :)
posted by rainbowbrite at 2:01 PM on July 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

Nthing the free shipping and free returns here means you have nothing to lose. It might look fantastic on you and I love the silouette of it. It's the one item I'm drawn to the most on the Universal Standard site. Agreed that it is cool and modern.
posted by purple_bird at 2:02 PM on July 18, 2017

check your MeMail
posted by a humble nudibranch at 2:03 PM on July 18, 2017

Buy it! Nthing the sentiment above that you can always return it if it doesn't work.

I have a theory that if you're the kind of person who agonizes over whether to spend $120 on a dress, it's fine to spend $120 on a dress. (I.e., If you're a thrifty person who doesn't like to spend a lot of money in general, it's okay to do it sometimes when you really really want to.) I have never regretted buying something I really want after staring at it on the internet for a long time, and there are plenty of things I stared at on the internet for a long time and did not buy and now regret not having.
posted by something something at 2:03 PM on July 18, 2017 [8 favorites]

I also love the look of that dress! Definitely the blob risk will highly depend on the drape and fit on your individual body. But I agree that you shouldn't consider belting it, though I think it might help to pair it with a long statement necklace to break up the expanse of the fabric that could contribute to a blobby look. Either way, if you love it, buy it and try it!
posted by snowleopard at 2:09 PM on July 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

Do it! Returning stuff is so easy these days.
posted by lalex at 2:10 PM on July 18, 2017

I really like the simplicity, drape, and asymmetrical cut and I think you'd look cute in it. (and I love the green. and now I want a dress just like this)
posted by millipede at 2:13 PM on July 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Also, the sack dress thing is everywhere this summer, so you will be wearing what everyone else is wearing this summer. I am on the smaller side, but look blobby in my sack dress. But I like the look! I think that IS the look (ie it is never going to do to your waist what an a-line will, but that's the point of this silhouette: a little blobby). Pair it with a cute long necklace and rock it out.
posted by LKWorking at 2:14 PM on July 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

I think you'll look fabulous in it! (And as everyone has mentioned - returns.) Go for the blue.
posted by Wylie Kyoto at 2:15 PM on July 18, 2017

I'm the same shape as you though slightly larger in size. That dress would make me look square because of the short sleeves. The shape of the dress is fine, depending on the draping of the material, if it clings wear spanx under it so it glides over any problem areas.

I've bought from that site before, the cut is usually pretty good, their return/exchange policy is also good. Buy it & try it on, life is short wear a fun dress that makes you feel awesome, if you put it on & it doesn't then return it.
posted by wwax at 2:15 PM on July 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you have not seen it already, here is an interview with Ashley Ford on Cup of Jo where she rocks the Geneva Dress. I would say that she has a very similar build to yours, particularly around the shoulders and upper arms, and the dress is hopelessly cool and awesome on her, so will likely be so on you.
posted by DSime at 2:16 PM on July 18, 2017 [7 favorites]

(I'd never heard of this place, and I'm now looking through the website and making excited little noises to myself.)

Free shipping and returns make this a no-brainer, really. But it might be interesting to ask their opinion as well, since visits to their showroom are by appointment. I made a plus-size-boutique-with-consultant shopping trip a few years ago, and still use some of the things I learned there to shop on my own now.
posted by gnomeloaf at 2:17 PM on July 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Um that dress is GORGEOUS and it would look AMAZING on you!! And yes you can return it if you don't like it!! But I think it would look great, especially if you have your hair down and/or a little bit fluffed up for more volume. Random Internet Stranger says DOOOO IT
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 2:19 PM on July 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

I disagree very much that the dress will automatically make you look amorphous, as someone mentioned above. Here is a woman I follow on Facebook for general social justice activism posts and also plus size fashion posts, wearing some Universal Standard clothing including that dress in yellow. She does not look blobby or amorphous at all. Also, this silhouette is ridiculously popular right now -- cocoon dresses and swing dresses and other garments meant to be less body-con are all over the damn place and have been for a while now.

I say get it if you're so taken with it, and return it if it doesn't work out for you. No harm, no foul. But seriously, get it. Don't deprive yourself of trying out a thing you want because it might not fit into other people's narrow definition of "flattering".
posted by palomar at 2:24 PM on July 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

From a great article (Can We Talk about 'Flattering'?):
Flattering. Flattering. Flattering. Is there any more backhanded word in the English language? It’s a word made all the worse by intent. When someone tells a woman that something looks flattering on her, they mean it as a compliment. What I hear, as a plus-size woman, is something entirely different. Flattering always seems to mean that a garment makes me look skinnier or covers up my supposed “flaws” well...

That is, pardon the language, bullshit. Fashion should not be about hiding one’s body...What a depressing worldview! If every morning I woke up and thought, “Gee, what will hide my body best today?” I would never get dressed at all...We’re trained to talk about clothes as if they’re magic bullets to fix all of our body problems. Well, what if we don’t think our bodies are a problem? What if they’re treated as gorgeous canvases for pretty garments?"
Check out the full article -- it's well worth the read. Long story short: you don't have to dress in a way that others consider "flattering" if you don't want to, and you don't have to internalize the shame that the "flattering/unflattering" idea tries to put on you. If you feel awesome and happy wearing something, that's really reason enough to wear it!

As a side note, if you have a friend with a sewing machine who is willing to give you a hand, you might look into making a similar dress yourself -- it looks like just about the easiest sew I've ever seen, no pattern required, shouldn't take more than an afternoon. The post I linked contains several different versions on a couple of different body types as well.
posted by ourobouros at 2:25 PM on July 18, 2017 [14 favorites]

Your pictures are gorgeous. That dress is gorgeous. Wear it, and prepare to be mistaken for an art curator, jewelry designer or high-end florist daily. Rock on.
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:36 PM on July 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

Holy shit, I need that dress too! (And I think you'll look lovely in it!)
posted by sperose at 2:40 PM on July 18, 2017

You're not a crazy dissimilar shape to the model; I think it's worth an earnest try, especially considering the return policy! The dress is great and I suspect it's really going to work for you.
posted by hollyholly at 2:53 PM on July 18, 2017

The dress doesn't have a defined waist, which would actually go with the flow of your figure. As long as you have the height to pull it off, which I reckon from your photos you do; I would not recommend the dress for a short person (5'2") such as myself. But to you, I say go for it!
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 2:53 PM on July 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

You look great in your photos - you wear those dresses really well and your colouring would be great with the Geneva's green. Do it!
posted by freya_lamb at 2:58 PM on July 18, 2017

I love that dress. Order it and see! As long as the return policy is decent, there's no risk and the reward is an awesome dress.
posted by snaw at 3:01 PM on July 18, 2017

Boy howdy, yes! With your hair up and dangly earrings!
posted by mochapickle at 3:36 PM on July 18, 2017

I'd get it. It seems like it would be really practical as well. You can accessorize the heck out of it, and conversely, leave it very simple. It will give you many different looks, which may get help justify the price for you (which isn't that extreme.).
posted by Vaike at 3:37 PM on July 18, 2017

I have a sister who is shaped more or less like you and see what works on her and what doesn't. I think the dress looks lovely and I think you can rock it. I think one of the things you should make sure you have is a really good bra! And also nice shoes. If your chest looks its best that is one of the things accentuated by that dress.
posted by jessamyn at 3:48 PM on July 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Is the $120 going to bankrupt you? No? Buy it.

Another way to look at it -- That's roughly 12 lunches out, so if you eat out for lunch 3x/workweek, brownbag it for a month. Then enjoy your hard-earned dress!
posted by Fig at 4:23 PM on July 18, 2017

I also have been eyeing that dress! I'm afraid that I'm too short for it. I think you should buy it, and I should also buy it. And maybe then we should go to meetup and both wear them.
posted by amarynth at 4:35 PM on July 18, 2017 [7 favorites]

I can tell the dress calls to you and you would feel cool in it-- that's the important thing.

But as to your question, I don't feel it would make you look "blobby," I think it would look chic and modern and what kind of shoes and jewelry are you gonna wear with it??? It's not voluminous really, if you look at the cut. It doesn't seem weirdly clingy. Try it!

I'm not just saying this because I HATE the idea that women necessarily always want to "look smaller" and "have a defined waist." Sometimes we just want to look cool, damn you What Not To Wear stylists who dress every woman over 120 lbs like business meeting Minnie Mouse.
posted by kapers at 5:49 PM on July 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

Oh I'm also obsessed with that dress (but I'm at the extreme low end of their size range). You should geeeeeet it! And just return if it doesn't work. It looks comfy and chic.
posted by jeoc at 6:34 PM on July 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

$120 is a lot for me to spend on clothing too, but that dress has a classic look that you could wear for many years. I think you can rock it.
posted by areaperson at 6:36 PM on July 18, 2017

I own this dress in 2 colors (red and yellow). It's really easy to take care of. So even though it's expensive I'm still wearing it 2 years later and it still looks good after multiple washes and drying in the dryer. Looks good on me and my not plus size friend who borrowed it during a travel emergency. I don't feel blobby in it. I'm not even tempted to try and belt it although that would work too. US also let's you return clothes for a different size if your weight changes. Just been really happy with everything I've purchased from them.
posted by DarthDuckie at 6:55 PM on July 18, 2017 [7 favorites]

That dress looks like it could go day to night and be styled for lots of different occasions, so go for it!
posted by Hypatia at 7:06 PM on July 18, 2017

That is a kick-ass dress and you will look kick-ass in it!
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 7:10 PM on July 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

1. You love it.
2. It's a cute dress.
3. You're a cute girl.

Go for it!
posted by mulcahy at 9:31 PM on July 18, 2017

Do it! That is a great color, it will feel fantastic, and you can always put a belt on if you want, but you definitely don't have to. You look fantastic already and I think this dress will look fantastic on you, too.
posted by jillithd at 6:24 AM on July 19, 2017

I'm going to do the thing! And thanks for all the links, especially to Cup of Jo, because there was some great reading to be had. I have the problem of loving a lot of more interesting looks and then defaulting to jeans and a tshirt out of fear or laziness or OMG fat women don't get to wear this, or whatever. So I'm trying to dip a toe in the pool. Shoes will also be hard, because I have big, wide feet, but I'm going to start looking for those, too!

People of AskMe, you are all the best. I'm going to give a talk about a sculpture at my museum in September, and if I can, I am going to wear this dress.
posted by PussKillian at 6:39 AM on July 19, 2017 [20 favorites]

PussKillian, thanks for posting a follow-up. I have the same issues and the same result (defaulting to jeans and a tshirt), and you inspired me to get the whole darn starter kit, which I've had in my cart for a while.
posted by amarynth at 6:55 AM on July 19, 2017 [9 favorites]

re: shoes, one of my favorite shoe brands that comes in WW widths is Munro. I always check zappos and 6pm (the zappos clearance site) for Munro deals. Even their heels are stable and comfortable. A similar investment to the dress. I'm wearing the Cookie today and they feel great (and I'm not a heeled platform sandal person in any other brand.)
posted by kapers at 11:13 AM on July 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

Well dangit, I've been intrigued by this dress for a while too, and now I want to order it.
posted by pyjammy at 9:25 AM on July 20, 2017

FYI - The tutorial that ourobouros posted is fantastic. I don't even really like the look of the Geneva dress, but it looked so easy to I read this post Tuesday night, and Wednesday afternoon I went to JoAnn fabrics, bought some jersey fabric, and Wednesday night sewed myself a dress. And wore it today! I still think it's an odd sort of dress, but it was comfy and I made it myself, and I did feel oddly powerful in it.

I bought three different fabrics (the other two are not jersey, they are a little more spandexy) for $30, so even if I make the one dress, it was still much cheaper, and if I make the other two fabrics into dresses, that's $10 each! What a great deal!

Let us know how the purchase goes!
posted by firei at 8:35 PM on July 20, 2017 [6 favorites]

Is never heard of this company and I'm excited to explore.

Just, if only, for heaven's sake, someday please, pockets!?!
posted by Salamandrous at 10:52 AM on July 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

Here is me in the thing! Photo 1 and Photo 2. It is incredibly comfortable and I like the fabric and how it moves, but I think I agree with my sister that going up one size for the more artsy, flowing drapy look may be better. Any thoughts? Do the shoes work?
posted by PussKillian at 4:30 PM on July 26, 2017 [4 favorites]

Nice! I'd suggest a bold necklace or brooch, or maybe a scarf. Something to make it pop and draw attention.
posted by Lexica at 4:43 PM on July 26, 2017

IT'S GREAT. I guess trying the size up wouldn't hurt but I like the fit and drape of this. The shoes are good. If you must accessorize, do a big cuff bracelet or sculptural clutch handbag that won't detract from the lines of the dress.
posted by mama casserole at 7:21 PM on July 26, 2017

That looks MARVELOUS on you.
posted by lalex at 7:33 PM on July 26, 2017

I can't get over the picture in the photostream with a little more light behind you. The drape of the skirt is amazing. You should really get a commission on the amount of these dresses you've prompted MeFites to buy, because I'm going to get one too.
posted by rewil at 7:37 PM on July 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'd go up one size for the fun and artsy flowiness! And either bracelets or some earrings or a lonnnnnng necklace.

I'm considering the dress, too, and plan to size up a little to play up the asymmetry of it.
posted by mochapickle at 8:05 AM on July 27, 2017

It's gorgeous on you! The shoes are great! Agree with some statement jewelry, and maybe a red lip. So glad you got it!
posted by stellaluna at 12:29 PM on July 29, 2017

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