As I mentioned last week, it was obscenely hot last week in Chicago. So hot, in fact, that I basically couldn't bear the thought of wearing any more clothing than absolutely necessary, and I came to realize by the end of the week that I'd accidentally repeated my "Seven Dresses" experiment from last May. At that time, I had tons of dresses that I never wore, so I launched a mission to explore the depths of my closet and let my dresses see the light of day.
I ultimately didn't learn much from my experiment other than that I perhaps shouldn't over-analyze things so much, but it did break down some of my mental barriers to wearing dresses when I'd spent the vast majority of my life in pants. Ever since that week over a year ago, I've tried to wear a dress at least once a week, and given my desire to look nice for my boyfriend and when I go out to see my friends, I've been sticking to my goal and then some.
However, since I also hate shaving my legs, pants still play an important role in my wardrobe. This week though, I just couldn't stand the thought of fabric touching my legs in the oppressive heat, so dresses became the order of the day, and I still haven't broken down and put on pants yet this week either. Since you guys seemed to enjoy that voyeuristic glimpse into my closet last year, I thought I'd recreate last week's line-up of dresses, none of which were repeats from the last "Seven Dresses," due to my weight loss earlier this year. Some of the pieces were new, and some of the pieces were holdovers from a skinnier time in my life that I optimistically hung on to over the years. Without further ado, here they are:
Day One: I bought this dress back in March, when spring and summer clothes were just starting to show up in stores. It was still way too cold in Chicago to wear it, but that didn't stop me. Initially, I paired it with tights and some purple flats and just tried to think warm thoughts while I wore it out to such events as seeing Working with Justin, and Mother's Day brunch. I like that it has just enough pattern, but not too much, and above all else, that it has sleeves. As I mentioned on Day Four of last year's series, I don't know why dresses with sleeves are so hard to find, but given the heat, it was nice to not have to throw a cardigan over this dress. This dress has definitely gotten a lot of wear the past few months, and it's one of my favorite things in my closet right now.
Day Two: This dress came to my closet courtesy of my best friend, Lisa, who very generously gave me a Macy's gift card for my birthday. I could have used it for something practical, and I actually intended to use it on shoes but I couldn't find any that thrilled me in the entirety of the State Street store's enormous shoe department. A new dress was the next natural step, and this one caught my eye. It's perhaps the most flattering of all the pieces I wore this week, and it even looks acceptable without the matching cardigan, despite the fact that I generally don't like showing off my arms in public. I think the vertical stripes and embroidery serve to elongate my body or something. The studded details on these sandals from last year go perfect with the beading on the dress (which is hard to see in this picture, but is very much there). I think this dress has somewhat of an Eastern European folk costume aura about it, and I've noticed various Eastern European men checking me out when I've had it on. Ladies seem to like it too, and I've directed several to the dress department at Macy's so they can get one of their own.
Day Three: I found this dress when I was out hunting for something to wear for my birthday party this year, and it stood out to me both because it was purple (which is my favorite color for clothing) and because it had ruffles, which might just be my favorite clothing detail. I feel like it strikes just the right balance between casual and dressy, and as a result, I've worn the crap out of it ever since I bought it in late March. It's a perfect transitional piece for wearing to the office and then out for after-work activities with either Justin, friends, or both. In fact, I've worn this dress so many times that I actually noticed a hole in it when I wore it that day, and I'm a little bit devastated about it, to be honest.
Day Four: Ordinarily, I would consider this dress too fancy to wear to work, but after sweating all day in the first three dresses, they all needed to be washed and I was running out of work appropriate dresses. Considering this was the hottest day of the week, there was no way I was going to wear pants, so I sucked it up and wore this sundress that I originally purchased to wear to Easter brunch. I'd originally brought a different dress home to wear that weekend, but it was a wardrobe holdover from college and while it once again fit, Mom and I agreed when I tried it on the day before that it didn't fit well, so we ran out at the last minute and found this dress. I liked the graphic nature of the pattern, and the bold contrast between the flowers at the bottom and the black and white body of the dress. You might also notice that I skipped wearing a shrug that day, despite my policy of never going out with bare arms. It was just too damned hot, and after a certain point, I just didn't care anymore.
Day Five: I cheated a bit on Friday, since I was officially out of work-appropriate dresses, but I included a skirt on Day Six of last year's "Seven Dresses" so I figured I was still in the clear. I had to perform a bit of DIY trickery to make this outfit work, because I actually don't have any summery skirt options that still fit me. This skirt was a full two sizes too big and a bit too long (I didn't discover until I was looking at the pictures from last year's "Seven Dresses" that anything below the knee actually makes me look shorter and I've subsequently adjusted my shopping strategy), so I hiked it up Steve Urkel-style, folded over the waistband so it was the correct size, and secured it with a bunch of safety pins. Since my top wasn't going to be tucked in and the skirt was relatively full, nobody could notice my ad hoc tailoring job. And do I really even need to explain what drew me to this skirt in the first place? One word: circles.
Day Six: I dusted off this look after pulling it from the closet and trying it on a half dozen times or so already this summer but never working up the nerve to actually wear it. I got this little number back in the summer of 2007, and wore it to a variety of events in conjunction with my graduation from Washington University in St. Louis, including both my graduation party and the family party my aunt Faye held in my honor. It technically fits again, though it's too long for my current taste, but it is by far the most form-fitting, body conscious outfit in my entire wardrobe. There's nowhere to hide in this dress. I figured I was safe wearing it today because the only people who'd see me would be Justin (who I'm fairly sure is fond of my figure) and my friends Natasha and Travis, who we'd invited over for dinner. Because this strapless dress has always had a tendency to not stay in place at the top, I paired with with a t-shirt underneath that also rarely makes it out of my closet. I'd ordered it from the Gap's website, where it looked like a lovely shade of pink, but when it arrived, it turned out to be roughly flesh-colored. I couldn't exactly wear it in public, but I thought it might make a nice layering piece, and I think this outfit proved me right.
Day Seven: Since I'd committed to going to Ravinia with Justin and would be spending a substantial amount of time outside, I needed another dress to stay cool. With the pickings getting slim in my closet, I decided to go with this dress, which I bought on end-of-summer sale last year. Due to the unfortunate timing of its purchase and my subsequent weight loss, I figured I'd never get a chance to actually wear this dress, as it is now too big. It's probably my least-flattering look of the week, but I tried it on with a variety of bras until I found one that allowed me to situate the embroidered bust properly. The sweater served to obscure the straps. I still got compliments on this look (and not just from Justin either), so it must not have been too bad, but it was definitely my least favorite dress of the seven I wore this week.
Ultimately, this installation of "Seven Dresses" was less of an experiment and more a matter of practicality. I did notice, however, that when it's brutally hot outside, dresses seem more a practical choice than a stylistic one, and virtually nobody comments on you being "dressed up." I do feel like I got better mileage from my wardrobe than usual, but at the same time, I would just as soon the temperature cool down so I can stop waking up at 6:30 every day to shave my legs to make them presentable in a dress. Seriously, Mother Nature, enough already!
And now, my question to you: Which look is your favorite?