What should my summer uniform be?
March 15, 2018 10:11 AM   Subscribe

I want to buy 5 copies of the perfect dress so I can wear the same thing to work every day this summer. Help me find this dress!

This fall/winter, I started a work uniform. Black tunic & black leggings. It was phenomenal - kept me comfortable, looking professional, and dressed in 30 seconds flat.

It's about to be summer (or at least spring) and I'd like to replicate this for the warmer months. I generally don't shop at all (hence the winter uniform) and have been really struggling to find a dress that works.

It could be the same dress with different patterns/colors, or literally the same dress I buy multiples of.

These are my requirements:
-- has pockets (and use-able pockets, not just for looks)
-- is made of a natural material that works for summer (linen, cotton, maybe jersey)
-- is machine-washable (but totally fine if I have to air dry it)
-- is sleeveless but won't show bra straps
-- has an effortless wear it and go. I don't wear any jewelry or accessories, so it has to be something nice enough where I look dressed and ready for work once it and my work shoes are on. I don't work in a super fancy office (no suits) but it should look professional. For very formal days, I wear an outfit outside my standard uniform.

I do NOT want to look for five dresses I like a lot -- I would very much prefer to buy multiples of all the same dress for whatever psychological reason.

In terms of style, I carry all my weight in my belly, so a-line and a shift dresses look great on me; skintight and fit and flare and empire waists do not.

So far, I've been torn between something pretty neutral like this black maxi or this, buying all five of these, or splurging and getting some beautiful but very noticeable pieces like this and this

Any price point is fine.

Okay -- do you know the perfect dress? Links to specific dresses (versus designers) would be very much appreciated!
posted by neematoad to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 73 users marked this as a favorite
J.Jill Seamed Linen Dress :: has pockets, linen, machine wash and dry, sleeveless, three colors (two patterns and a solid), nice conservative neckline for when you're putting a cardigan or jacket over the top.
posted by anastasiav at 10:16 AM on March 15, 2018

The margot with pockets and cap sleeves almost fits your criteria. I own the phoebe dress which has a higher neckline as well.

Boden washes very well on machine wash, hang-dry.
posted by typecloud at 10:23 AM on March 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

Land's End sleeveless ponte shift dress. Currently on sale for $24.99!
posted by zoetrope at 10:26 AM on March 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

Karina's Nora dress comes in a variety of prints; see also their Penelope. Both sleeveless and pocketed. (You would have to judge if their microfiber blend works for your purposes; I have found it light and breathable.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:36 AM on March 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Similar to zoetrope's suggestion, I love Land's End's sleeveless ponte A-line dress. I am pear-shaped, so A-line seems to be better than shift-dresses for me.
posted by radioamy at 10:43 AM on March 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

I was just coming in to link the same Lands End A-line dress radioamy linked. I have two, and and I wear them twice a week all year round -- with a cardigan, tights, and boots in winter, and with no cardigan and sandals in summer. Sturdy fabric, pockets, a couple of years of heavy wear and they don't look worn, they're perfect.
posted by LizardBreath at 11:00 AM on March 15, 2018

I just wanted to point out that eShakti exists and all their dresses have usable pockets. They have lots of shift dresses and you can customize the dress so that you get the options you want! I love my eShakti dresses.
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:04 AM on March 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

I have this Athleta Nectar faux-wrap dress, which I bought used for $11, and it is perfect in every way. I carry all my weight in my stomach too (possibly more than you, if you look good in A-lines!), and this dress makes me look professional and slightly staid-yet-sexy. Also I could probably wear it five days in a row without it looking the least bit bad.
posted by tapir-whorf at 11:04 AM on March 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

The Drench Dress (made by Toad and Co., sold in a few places like Title Nine).

Also here in other colors/patterns

Has a little bit of a sleeve, but is super comfy.
posted by instead of three wishes at 11:18 AM on March 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Omg, these answers are all great and have already introduced me to options I would have never found on my own.
posted by neematoad at 11:23 AM on March 15, 2018

Not made of natural material, but it's a testament to how awesome the Arc'teryx Contenta dress is that I've bought it in every color (two in black) since it was released. I'm apple-shaped, and the ability to wear it loose or cinch the waist in makes it easy to switch up looks.
posted by evoque at 11:31 AM on March 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

J Jill sleeveless center-pleat knit dress - machine wash and dry, super comfy. The pockets are more obvious if that's a drawback, but nice and roomy for actual using.
posted by current resident at 11:39 AM on March 15, 2018

Sahalie has Bella Coola dresses. I can't personally vouch for them, but I do admire them every time I get the catalog. Also comes in an above-the-knee version. Both are on sale right now.
posted by sarajane at 11:40 AM on March 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

I have also had good luck with eshakti. (Like, they made a shift dress that looked great on my very oddly post-partum proportioned body!)

The stuff I bought from Gaia Conceptions was great, comfy, made-to-order, held up through years of abuse, it's made in the USA and each design comes in a bunch of different colours. Natural fabrics and dyes too. The overall aesthetic leans toward boho/hippie, but she does a ton of variations and you shouldn't have any problem putting together a combo that would look fine in an office. I'd buy tons of their stuff but it's pricey for me.

Ureshii Design is also made-to-order and made in the US, but I haven't had the excuse to try them yet. Similar though, in that they have a core stock of cute comfy looking things you can have made in a bunch of different colours.
posted by jrobin276 at 1:46 PM on March 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

Thank you for this question! My contribution is this Nau Flaxible Tank Dress. It has really great pockets.
posted by yarrow at 3:31 PM on March 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Please note - Ureshii is made in Canada. Their stuff is AMAZING and it's a woman owned, all handmade company. I've never regretted a thing I've bought from them.
posted by bibliogrrl at 6:52 PM on March 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

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