Help me find casualish summer dresses
June 11, 2008 3:35 PM   Subscribe

Help me find some excellent summer dresses for everyday wear. Specifics inside.

I'm looking for some nice, cool, not too fussy summer dresses. I work in a fairly casual office, and I'd like to be able to wear the dresses on the weekend or to work with nicer shoes and jewelry and a wrap or sweater.

Here's what I'm looking for:
-For this purpose, I'm not really into strapless, spaghetti strap, or halter styles. I want to be able to wear a regular bra, so tank, cap or short sleeves I guess.
-No "sexy" details, I don't want backless, corseted, plunging neckline etc.
-Above the knee is okay, mid-thigh is not (J Crew, I'm looking at you).
-Despite the above points, I don't want anything frumpy - I just don't like really bare clothing, especially at work.
-Bonus points for cool summer fabrics like silk or linen blends.
-More bonus points for machine or hand wash.
-No white.
-Less than $100 each.
posted by robinpME to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
Dresses are about all I wear in the summer ... especially since I've spent the last decade in climates too hot for anything more.

Is there a TJMaxx or Marshall's near you? If so, get there ... fast. Their dress selection this year is better than in past years. Also, Ross has a dress bonanza this year. I generally don't like the store for anything more than amazing housewares but their buyer snagged some great cute, cheap (and admittedly, some are too cheap) but if you just need a cool, comfortable dress to wear under a nice shrug or cotton sweater, Ross is the place to be.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 3:44 PM on June 11, 2008

I've found Eddie Bauer to be a good source of dresses one can wear to work. The stores don't always carry all the dresses in their catalog, though.
posted by needled at 3:49 PM on June 11, 2008

I'm a huge fan of this and this at J. Peterman. Yeah, they look standard, but they're flattering as hell and great quality. Right now, they're over $100, but J.Peterman runs sales pretty regularly where they'll drop into the price range you mentioned.

You might also want to try your local Brooks Brothers outlet (not retail) store At the right time, they have ridiculously good deals on casual-ish dresses that can be worn to work.
posted by joyceanmachine at 3:54 PM on June 11, 2008 [4 favorites]

Target has some nice dresses this year... I don't know if they'll fit your requirements, but they have some cute stuff, and it tends to rotate regularly.
posted by MadamM at 3:55 PM on June 11, 2008

Best answer: I found several potential dresses for you.

Black Wrap Dress from Ann Taylor Loft.

Essential Summer Dress from BodenUSA. Available in multiple colors.

Printed Wrap Dress from Old Navy.

Twin Print Twist Dress or Garden Route Dress from White House Black Market.

Marseilles Dress from Shabby Apple.

Cap Sleeve Jersey Dress from Nordstrom. It's barely under $100, but it's super cute.

Brown Mock-Wrap Dress or Black Shirtdress from Dillards.

Dot Print Dress from Banana Republic.

I hope you'll like at least one or two of these!
posted by shesbookish at 4:02 PM on June 11, 2008 [10 favorites]

Response by poster: Shesbookish - thank you!! There's tons of potential there, and a couple of stores I forgot all about (BodenUSA!!).
posted by robinpME at 4:06 PM on June 11, 2008

Coldwater Creek is very classy. You have to look hard for machine wash or hand wash options, but here are a few.
posted by crazycanuck at 4:10 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Have you tried vintage? My whole closet is full of what you're describing, most of it from eBay (and with pockets!), nearly every dress under $25 and some never worn (new old stock).

Just make sure you go by measurements, not size, because vintage sizing is a pain in the ass.
posted by padraigin at 4:11 PM on June 11, 2008

Man those dresses are hot! Guess I have to get that stimulus check out of the savings account. Thanks, shesbookish!
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 4:12 PM on June 11, 2008

How about this?
posted by boy detective at 4:21 PM on June 11, 2008

JC Penny has a lot of dresses like this - and nearly everything there is machine washable.
posted by selfmedicating at 5:47 PM on June 11, 2008

I love the dresses at Shabby Apple. They seem to fit your criteria.
posted by mewithoutyou at 5:48 PM on June 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

I've found lots of cute, inexpensive, washable dresses at Kohl's.
posted by xsquared-1 at 5:52 PM on June 11, 2008

Seconding the Target suggestion. I'm a teacher, so I had to buy pretty much an entire causual wardrobe of non-teaching clothes for the summer. $100 at Target and I'm set! Plus, I get tons of compliments about my cute dresses...people are always surprised when I just smile and say, "Tar-jay!"
posted by Edelweiss at 6:02 PM on June 11, 2008

Forever21 has a ton of knit dresses under $25. My roommate has a closet full of them, and they're much better quality than you'd think given the price.

Here are a few:

Keyhole Floral Dress

Diamond Knit Dress
Qamra Gathered Dress
V Neck 3/4 Sleeve Dress
V Neck Bubble Dress
Isis Gathered Knit Dress
Jennifer Knit Dress
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:10 PM on June 11, 2008

If you go to Shabby Apple, my friend over at Simplemom has a 15% discount code! Yay!
posted by misha at 7:41 PM on June 11, 2008

Seconding the suggestion for TJ Maxx and/or Marshall's. Also, if there is a Loehmann's in your area, I would recommend trying there as well. I just purchased a great black cotton dress in Loehmann's that would fit your criteria for only $25.
posted by saturn25 at 7:43 PM on June 11, 2008

You may be of amazonian proportions, but at 5'3", I find that most of the "short" dresses at J.Crew are too long and hit awkwardly (and unflatteringly) around mid-calf. Otherwise, I love their stuff and find that it lasts a long time in my closet, given both good design and quality.

I have good luck at H&M and Zara.
posted by supramarginal at 8:47 PM on June 11, 2008

Response by poster: If anyone plans to order from Boden, make sure to request a catalog online. Mine came within two days and had a one-use code for 10% off and free shipping and returns.
posted by robinpME at 12:10 PM on June 17, 2008

Veronica Dress from Penguin.

Cafe Dress from Christa Taylor.

Buttercup Sundress from Shop Mamie.

Okay, adding even more to my list of dresses I want. I thought they might be of interest to others who have favorited this question.
posted by shesbookish at 2:07 PM on June 19, 2008

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