Dress Report: Stalking The Cotton Shirtdress

By | April 4, 2008

I’m very into shirtdresses right now. Particularly cotton shirtdresses. I expect this is due in part to my unabashed longing for spring to, you know, actually start. Regardless of the reason, I’m constantly on the prowl for this surprisingly elusive item lately.

Sinister but she was happy.

Exhibit A: The Sizzling Shirt Dress, by Mlle Gabrielle, currently on sale at alight.com. I dig this one because, with its big-button front, piping-embellished edges, and big collar, it vaguely reminds me of 1950s-era waitress uniforms. This dress is 100% cotton, which means it does not stretch, and it wrinkles if you merely look at it funny (the impressively-wrinkled version above is the unsurprising end-of-day result of my desk job).

On the plus side, it’s 100% cotton. I’ll never understand why it’s such a trial to find plus sizes in natural fibers. Though I don’t claim to speak for everyone, I will always take a nice crisp cotton dress over a slinky polyester jersey if given the choice. While it wrinkles like nobody’s business, and doesn’t have that luxurious stretch (at least not without a bit of spandex), cotton can always be relied upon to breathe beautifully, to launder without pilling (like so many cheap jerseys seem to do; see every Old Navy dress I’ve bought in the last three years), and to just plain feel better, in my opinion.

Overall I’m very pleased with the above dress. Sure, the shoulders and arms are a bit more closely-fitting that I’d ideally like, but then that’s a common experience for me and my giant ham-like upper arms. And sure, the included belt broke within literal seconds of my removing the garment from the package in which it was shipped, but hey, it was on sale.


Bridgewater Studio Print Shirtdress

Exhibit B: The Bridgewater Studio Print Shirtdress, from the Jessica London catalog, also currently on sale (I cannot honestly recall the last time I bought something that wasn’t on sale, but I digress). The image above is from the catalog, because I don’t have a picture of myself in this one as of yet. I bought this in the navy and white print, which I like a lot more than the color above.

The Jessica London website has fairly recently added user reviews to its item pages. This is pretty awesome of them, I must say, because my experience is that buying from catalogs is at best an inconvenient annoyance and at worst a major catastrophe. If I think too long about the amount of money I’ve lost to Jessica London and Newport News and their ilk in shipping fees for items I’ve had to return, I start to go all deranged and Hulkish. Thus, the reviews are pretty sweet, as it gives others the chance to warn newcomers off an item that looked just precious on the page but was in reality a horror upon receipt.

And sometimes I ignore their warnings.

The reviews for the above dress are pretty uniformly bad. Most of the complaints are about the size being too small, and the fabric feeling “cheap”. Hey, it’s cotton again. This partly answers my question of why plus sizes in natural fibers are so hard to come by – maybe lots of fat folks don’t like them. Regardless, I took a chance on this dress – thinking that the complainers were expecting something other than a light cotton dress – and I’m pleased I did. The fabric is a very nice, soft, woven cotton, and the dress fits like I expect a 26W to fit. My only gripe is the length. It’s just above the knee on me (I am just over 5′9″), which isn’t really a problem, as I enjoy shorter dresses, but I’d expected it to be longer based on the image of the model. (And besides, it’s really my fault for not paying attention to the skirt length measurement listed, which I just noticed, just now.)

That wraps up this dress report. Next time I hope to have good things to say about this dress and this dress, both from Lane Bryant. Given my recent failures at LB, though, I am not optimistic.

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