Saturday, June 11, 2011

Floral shift dresses & ways to wear them

An "e-friend" of mine has expressed a like of floral dresses in simple shapes.

So she came to mind when I saw Princess Beatrice at the recent Epsom Derby.
Seems that Beatrice has lost alot of weight (& she looks wonderful for it), but she is also making better sartorial choices. This post highlights the ways you can wear this style of dress and the body shapes most suitable for it. Enjoy!

Notice that even Princess Beatrice's recent choices in headwear have shown marked improvement - phew....

Beatrice's floral shift instantly reminded me of a main line Dolce & Gabbana floral dress which Madonna wore to launch her first children's book (in 2003) outstanding choice for a children's book launch given her up til then raunchy reputation....

But you know what I totally love about this type of dress?

It would be totally appropriate in 2011 as much as it was in 2003. I adore clothes which have staying power. After all, that is the best way to get cost per wear (CPW) down. For me, CPW is the true measure of the cost of an item - in contrast to the outright cost of an item. I have written about CPW quite a few times previously. Its a gem of a concept IMO.

This Dolce dress was also featured on Claire Daines in Shopgirl (with Steve Martin) .....shown here with Bridgette Wilson Sampras (married to the tennis player & they have 2 kids).

It was also worn by Eva Mendes (the other women) in The Women (darned, I cant locate a photo...let me know if you can find one please).

May I digress?
Thank you...

If you haven't seen The Women - its a funny, uplifting, drama about women friends, featuring no men whatsoever in the cast nor in the extras.

If you love fashion, there is an opening sequence with Annette Bening (the corporate high flyer of the group) where she scans the women's Saks Fifth Avenue floors like a hawk with bionic
eyes - my role model.

It also stars Debra Messing, Meg Ryan, Jada Pinkett Smith, Candice Bergen, Carrie Fisher, Bette Midler.....

and a Birkin or two (thank you stardusttrailers)

PS: Both these photos are shot in Saks....a must movie for fashion loving girls!

Ok - I got too carried away...back to the floral simple dress.......

*Why does it work?

a) Eye moves up & down

The key (as my friend has realised) - when the pattern is busy, keep the lines & accessories simple.
That way the eye moves up & down with the dress.
And we all know eye moving up and down = lengthening & slimming.

Notice how Eugenie is cutting herself in half by belting her shift in high contrast colour? In comparison, Beatrice's lines are smooth up & down lines - much more lengthening)

If you mix a complex design with a busy print, the eye can tend to get confused and doesnt know where to look.

b) Waist emphasis

Lets face it, - emphasising the waist to create an hourglass shape is pleasing to the eye. If a garment (like this) can be make to show off an hourglass, then by all means, it a BIG plus!

* Body shape variations?

Flabby arms? - lower the sleeves
Winter? - long sleeves, wool mix fabric
Toned arms? - cap sleeves or sleeveless
Big boobs - lower the neckline to a scoop
Small boobs - Give it a higher neckline or perhaps a sweetheart neckline
Great legs? Turn it to a mini and/or with a split
Flabby middle (darned childbirth!)? Keep the fabric structured, add boning (dont use a soft clingy fabric)


Evening version - amp up the heel & the satin & the floral, red & black maybe?

Work version - keep the florals a bit "corporate" (black/navy & white?), wear with a tailored jacket

Church version - with a cardi, in soft pastel florals or swap the florals for a pale lace (white lace is huge ATM thanks to Dolce & Gabbana SS 2011)...seen here.....

Year round? - absolutely, cotton or linen in summer, wool or wool mix in winter.
Keep it lined for work & dressy occasions, unlined for more casual occasions.

PS: Here is a SS Dolce & Gabbana white lace dress....a definite pseudo floral shift....TDF...

*Body types?

YES - Hourglass with a defined waist and especially if you are short waisted
Even a plus size can wear this, as long as she has a reasonably defined waist

NO - Pears, apples, thin and especially if you are long waisted

*Easy to make

Absolutely! All the pattern companies do this type of style...

* Aussie stockists?

At high street level, we tend to see this style of dress at Review, Alannah Hill & Veronika Mayne.
At designer level, we tend to see it at Anthea Crawford, Perri Cutten & Collette Dinnigan.

Enjoy & please add comments especially if you already have a well loved dress like this or want one or simply hate this post! All comments welcome!


  1. Thanks Val - Love the cut of that dress - would also like to see it in plain black or red :)

    1. Jacqui - I am SO sorry I didnt see your comment...You do realise there are LOADS of that shape of dress in stores now (ie: Plain red or plain black)...try Review, David Lawrence, Sportscraft, Saba. I even saw a black one in Zara today.....

  2. Goish, you make me want to tear into my wardrobe and pull out my floral Dinnigan! Bought a few seasons ago cos I love it but still haven't worn it so CPW is rather high.....xx sighs xx

    1. You have to ren - & now its getting colder, you wear it with tights & a more saving it for summer.

      But frankly if you can stand it, I love florals dresses with fishnets or Leona Edmiston Pins & maybe a coat so the legs dont get too cold...