Thursday, June 3, 2021

Thinking About Summer Dresses

We had such a cold and rainy weekend that it hardly feels like the time to think about summer dresses, but that's still the wardrobe category that's been on my mind recently. NYC tends to be hot and humid in summer, and it doesn't cool down much at night. Outside of days when I'm adhering to a more formal dress code for work, I generally wear very light dresses throughout the season, often somewhat flowy and relaxed-fit, in summer-friendly fabrics: typically linen, cotton, silk, rayon, and blends thereof. (If it's a casual dress, the lining also needs to be made of one of those summer-friendly fabrics, I've become a stickler about that detail.)

I find these casual summer dresses are generally the most fragile items in my closet. Out of any other category of things I've added to my wardrobe since I started documenting all my purchases in January 2015, my summer dresses are the most likely to have experienced significant wear and tear. 

Probably unsurprisingly, given the nature of the material, silk and silk-blends are particularly fragile. My casual dresses in silk that have a front center seam have an unfortunate tendency to start tearing at the bust, away from that seam (perhaps because my top-heavy figure causes a bit of strain to the fabric there; cross-body bag straps may also be a factor). I gave away my Everlane short sleeve silk dress from April 2016 to my younger sister around 2018, before the tear could really develop. In 2019, I clumsily sewed up the tear in my Grana slip dress from November 2017, though I'm not sure how much longer that dress has. I also have another Club Monaco silk dress from before 2015 that I've mostly retired due to similar issues. It's enough that I should probably have learned by now that unlined silk or mostly silk dresses with a center seam are just not a good idea for me! Oh, and there are also little rips in the embroidery at the hem of my Madewell silk-cotton dress, which I bought used back in May 2017, just because I wear it so much. Though that's a more superficial bit of wear and tear that's easier to live with. 

I generally don't have great luck with laundering rayon, so with summer dresses in that category, the wear and tear is mostly from laundry mishaps. I machine-wash most of my clothes in cold water in a mesh washing bag to protect it - and then line-dry it all on a drying rack - but some rayon items still mysteriously and randomly shrink up from that gentle treatment, sometimes after months or years of previously being washed that way with no ill effect. I lost two H&M rayon jersey dresses that way, and also an Old Navy dress in "smooth" rayon, they all shrank up so much they became indecent to wear outside. I do my best to avoid 100% rayon clothes as a result of these experiences, but I can't guarantee I'll be able to stay away from all rayon blends, now that they're so common at various retailers. 

Because my summer dresses tend to be ragile, I typically add two or three new ones to my closet each year and also need to cycle at least one or two old ones out due to wear and tear. But because I stayed home pretty much all of last summer due to COVID-prevention social distancing, there was also no added wear and tear on my current summer dresses, so I technically don't need any more this year. Still, it's nice to daydream about new summer dresses that feel comfortable and relaxed. 

The dress that's caught my eye the most is the Jeana Sohn Casa dress pictured above, which is extremely fancy! Though that exact dress is probably not the right fit for my body shape and style preferences. The Casa dress is only available in one size and the bust is said to fit up to 38'', which I'm right on the edge of. Plus, I tend to not like any kind of ruching or smocking on any item of clothing, I don't think it suits my more curvy figure at all. (Though I think that detail on this dress is small enough - only a thin stripe of it above the bust - that it could be workable.) I generally also can't do with open backs on tops or dresses, since I always need to wear a relatively un-cute bra to feel comfortable. (But with summer dresses, I often don't mind exposed bra-straps, even relatively un-cute ones, so the keyhole openings in the back of the dress is also not an absolute impediment.) 

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Because of the long list of reasons the Jeana Sohn dress probably isn't right for me, I'm thinking instead about a Linenfox slip dress in a pale color - maybe the "sea green" - to get a similar feel. Linenfox even offers a striped fabric, see this expired Poshmark listing for an example of this dress in that fabric, though I think I'd still prefer a solid color in white, pale blue, or pale green instead. 

If I order a Linenfox dress this year, it will be my third Linenfox piece, I also own the Mona top in white and the pinafore-style Summer dress in emerald green (that color looks teal in a lot of Linenfox's store photographs, but in real life it's more of a true green, I don't think there's any discernible blue in it, or if there is, it's extremely faint). I've always been very satisfied with my Linenfox items, and I like that they provide detailed product measurements that are extremely helpful for ordering the right size. Their pieces are made to order, with a current production time of of four to six weeks, so I should try to make a decision soon if I want a new dress for this summer! 

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