Style and Styling

One Dress Five Ways

Happy day, dear reader!

I hope your week has been full of only pleasant surprises! When I published my summer travel capsule post earlier this week, I analyzed how many outfits could be created from the 10 pieces I took on holiday. I didn’t really explain why I took what I did, as I have with other travel capsule posts. One thing I am often asked about is why I pack a dress. Some people don’t think it’s practical to take a dress on vacation. I love me a dress and have written about why before, but if a dress isn’t something you wear, let me give you a taste of its versatility. (That’s one of the reasons I hear for women not choosing a dress…)

For this little experiment, I grabbed my basic LWD (little white dress), and styled it a variety of ways for our hot and sticky Georgia summer. This is just a simple cotton day dress, about five years old, from the Gap. Nothing fancy about it. My coloring is distinctly cool (I’m Sublime in the Absolute Color System) and my coloring is predominantly light, so a LWD works for me. If your coloring is warm, a little warm-toned dress is going to be a better option for you. Your dress might be ivory, blush, khaki, or olive. Just pick one that looks great on you! (And if that is something you are struggling with, I’d love to help!)

All the looks you see here are made with items I pulled from my closet. No borrowing. No style blogger gifts. No loans from sponsoring companies. Just my own stuff. A last minute appointment came up, so flat lays in my living room with the iPhone are the order of the day. No lovely outdoor shots. Sorry! I had a pretty place picked out too, but life got in the way. So, in no particular order, here we go…

LWD + Flat Metallic Sandals + Tote + Hoops + Colored Bead Bracelets

This is a very casual look, and a variation on what I wore while on vacation to church, and out in town. There’s a cool wrapped ring here, too, near the waistband of the dress, if you can biggerize (my grandson’s word) the shot. Hoops are my go-to earrings. They are my favorites with a scarf (endless hoops don’t get caught). I’ve had this pair for close to… um… 30 years? (No way! Way.) Oooooh, I can still fit into them! That’s lovely. My sandals are pewter, the tote–grey, and the bracelets–turquoise and grey. That’s because my palette is cool… For a warm woman, this would look amazing with gold sandals and hoops, coral and bone bracelets, and a straw tote! Makes me wish my coloring were warm, and I had a Little Olive Dress!

LWD + Striped Tee + Sneakers + Floaty, Dangly Earrings + Ring + Long Pendant Necklace

Number Two is another play look. I am happy to layer over and under a dress. Under makes the dress into a jumper (pinafore for those across the pond), and over the dress makes it look like a skirt. Before you get the schoolgirl image stuck in your head for the pinafore/jumper, imagine a sheath with a sleek turtleneck, patterned tights, and heeled boots, with big bold earrings. Not so school uniform, now, is it? OK! Back to the outfit here. This achromatic look (No color. Black and white aren’t actually colors…) with rose gold colored accents is for those days when any color just feels like too much. I don’t have those often, but am looking forward to trying this one out!

LWD + Short Colored Necklace + Trouser + Hoops + Colored Shoe + Watch +Ring

Number Three is the outfit I wanted to wear yesterday, but when the day went a little pear-shaped I realized that I needed to make another choice. I have loved these light denim colored (they’re not denim, just denim colored) cropped kick flare trousers worn with dresses this summer. The chambray colored patent pumps have a block heel, so they are comfy for walking, and still say “Yes, I mean business.” while balancing out the fullness of the skirt. A turquoise colored necklace draws the eye to the face (Where it belongs!) with color. A Short Colored Necklace and Colored Shoe are two of the Style Staples I always look for in a client’s wardrobe to help pull separates into an outfit. This feels both playful and adult. I’ll leave my cardie in my sea green bag unless I need it to ward off enthusiastic A/C.

LWD + Wedges (really comfy) + Patent Belt + Structured Clutch + Jean Jacket  + Colored Necklace & Bracelets

One more for: Number Four is another “work or play” look for me… If I was needing to look more adult/professional, I would swap out the jean jacket for my short navy suit jacket. The green necklace and bracelets add color, but since green is adjacent to blue on the color wheel, they don’t shout COLOR, like red or yellow would. I had never heard the trope “Blue and green should never be seen.” until a few years ago, but if blue and green should never be seen, no one bothered to tell Mother Nature! If it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for me! I wear the peep-toe polka dot wedges with the top two straps crossed in an X to lower the vamp and create a more flattering line on the foot! These rather “chunky” shoes (compared to my personal scale) work with the wider skirt in a way that they might not with a skinny pant. The shiny patent belt gives the outfit a more polished vibe than a woven leather belt would.

LWD + Floral Pumps +Patent Belt + Structured Clutch + Fringe-y Earrings + Neckerchief (I had to get my signature neckerchief in here somewhere!)

Last, but not least, at Number Five: I was feeling a garden party vibe. Or possibly for a baby or wedding shower? I would even feel comfortable wearing this for a casual garden wedding, as long as I knew I could stand on the patio and not sink into the grass. (Wedges save the day, people!) Again, the narrow heel, and patent belt create the feel of a higher level of refinement, as does a clutch rather than a shoulder bag. A neckerchief skews more casual, but this one is a sheer chiffon rather than a cotton bandana, edging back toward a higher level of refinement.

Bonus… LWD + Fringe-y Earrings + Ankle Strap Sandals + Patent Belt + Throw + Flowered Clutch (Sorry, I was having too much fun to stop!)

I felt like a date night look was in order! I know, this isn’t a cleavage-y date night look, but I’m not a cleavage-y girl. It works for pretty much any restaurant we have in the area. High swank is not the dress code at any of our local culinary establishments! And yes, that clutch is one of those inexpensive zip organizer bags you find in the wallets/accessories department at your local big box store. I find they make great clutches, especially in a pinch. I regularly put one in my tote when we travel to keep things organized, and then I have a cute clutch for when I want to leave the tote behind, and look more polished.

As you can see from the looks above, it’s not really about the dress! The dress is the canvas on which you create the look you want with the accessories. That’s why I love to travel with a dress. I want a versatile canvas!

If you are thinking this only works with a solid dress, or with only this silhouette, here are a few Camera Roll snaps from the past year showing some of the different ways I have worn my favorite dress, in all seasons, this past year. This abstract animal print sheath has been in every capsule I’ve created for the past five years. It’s been worn as casual day wear with those pewter sandals above, to work with pumps and a jacket, and to a wedding with metallic pumps, bling, and a silver shawl.

And yes, in cool weather, Boots + Dress is one of my go-to outfit recipes. It never lets me down! Ah, for fall to come again… You can see that these outfits are a lot more colorful than the ones above; most are from seasons other than summer, when my wardrobe capsule is heavily neutral.

How about you? Is a dress for everyday, or only for special occasions? Has this inspired you to try something different with a dress? Which look above is your favorite? I love to hear from you… Let’s start a conversation in the comments below!

Stylishly yours,

Thank you to Shelbee at Shelbee on the Edge, and Nancy at Nancy’s Fashion Style for the Link-Ups! You ladies are fabulous!


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