How Can You Miss Me If I Won't Go Away?

ebay item 6205434674
So. It seems that not only can I get online in Beijing, but I can do it from the comfort of my hotel room. (Also, I need to keep myself awake for another hour or so unless I want to be really screwed tomorrow, jet-lag-wise.) Here's a cute dress that's listed on eBay right now. Click on it to bid. (B33)

It's in a lot of four patterns, but this one is the cutest one. Go ahead and check out the other ones, but you'll see that I'm right.

Cultural Appropriation Time

rose cheongsam

I love cheongsam dresses: they're so pretty and elegant and fairly easy to wear (except for the no-pockets thing). This one in particular I adore — it's cotton, so easier to wear than the usual silk/rayon versions, and it's in a big English-roses print, which is another step away from the traditional. There's a brown colorway, too, which looks even more like a sofa. (That's a good thing, in my opinion. I like upholstery prints.)

Click on the link to buy it; I'm really tempted because it's only $35! But I won't buy it today, because I leave for China in a hour or two and who knows what cheongsams I might find there?

Yep, that's right, I'll be gone through Labor Day. (For work, not pleasure, but how can I avoid taking pleasure in a trip to China?)

If I have internet access I will update from the Forbidden City. Otherwise, this space will remain static until Sept. 5. Aren't you glad you have this dress to look at until then?

[insert bad pun using word 'wrap' here]

eva franco dress

Sorry this picture is so small — I couldn't get a better one. So go ahead and click through to see this great wool-blend wrap dress at Bluefly. It's $150 or so, but don't you want to look like an agate? I do.

I hesitate, though, because I am fairly klutzy and an overly-enthusiastic gesturer, and wrap dresses? They don't stay so wrapped on me. So my advice is: if you are like me and tempted to wear wrap dresses, always wear pretty underwear and slips. That way the embarrassment factor is not as high. Avoid safety pins: they either come undone and poke you, or they don't hold and then you have a TORN unwrapped dress. Much better to sew in extra snaps if you must.

This one only goes up through a size 10, unfortunately. Which is bad because wrap dresses look great on curvier figures!

This is what I know.

Penney's Dress

This is what I know about this dress:

  • It's $49.99 (click on the pic to visit the web page)
  • It's at JC Penney's.
  • It's matte jersey (no fabric content given, so I am assuming it's poly).
  • It's a basic dress that will look really pretty good on: nice sleeves, great neck detail, and the banding really defines your waist.

    I don't know:

  • Where the heck to find an actual JC Penney's store, since I haven't been in one since I was about fifteen;
  • If this is that horrible matte jersey that sticks and snags, or the really nice kind that flows and isn't too hot;
  • Where the top of the model's head went. I'm assuming there is visible gray matter under a glass dome, pulsing, pulsing, or they wouldn't have cropped the picture like that.

    Come to think of it, if this is an evil-scientist dress, it would look GREAT under a lab coat.

  • Now and Later

    dvf dress
    This dress is on sale at Bloomie's (okay, on sale at Bloomingdale's is still $200, but …) so click on the link if you are interested. It's silk-cotton jersey, so it will hang like a dream, and, although I'm usually not a fan of the uneven hem, here it really works.

    This is a good now-and-later dress — you can wear it now with sandals and bare skin, and it should also work in cooler weather, too. I'd wear it with a gunmetal-gray silk undershirt (3/4 sleeves of course), tights, and boots. (These boots, by preference. And if you are the person that sold them to me on eBay would you please mail them NOW? kthxbye!) That would look very cyberpunk, to me. With a silver leather cuff watch and silver beads.

    There's a similar (and much cheaper — $50) v-neck dress at Bloomingdales. Click here for that one, which is washable wool and also available in red and petite sizes. I'd wear the red one with a white Peter Pan collar blouse, tights, and lace-up high-heel oxford pumps.

    Ask Ms. Dressaday

    Dear Ms. Dressaday,

    Winter's approaching, and I know it doesn't affect you from your Malibu beachfront bungalow, but how should the rest of us prepare for dress-wearing in cold weather? How can I winterize some of my cross-seasonal dresses? Where can I buy thick tights? Are tights going to be in this fall/winter?

    Thanks for your help,
    Loyal Reader

    Dear Loyal Reader,

    Ah, if only it were so, that Malibu bungalow! Instead, Ms. Dressaday lives in blustery, snowy, icy Chicago, where dress-wearing in the wintertime requires studied preparation.

    First off, there are many dresses made of wool. Find them and make them your friends. Lightweight wool will keep you warm but not steamy, and makes for elegant, nicely-structured dresses. Eileen Fisher makes wool dresses that are very simple, but can be worn forever. Do not think that polyester is as warm as wool! It is very warm, but it not, as they say, a "dry heat." It's like wrapping yourself in a plastic bag: it doesn't breathe. And think of the poor jobless sheep! Buy. Wool.

    Don't be afraid to layer both over (cardigans) and under (undershirts) your dresses. There are as many different cardigans as there are dresses: I prefer three-quarter sleeves (for ease of access to my watch) with jewel necklines, but try wrap sweaters, sweater coats, and even knit jackets. A warm undershirt will not only keep you toasty, it will also help protect winter fabrics from you (and too-frequent drycleaning). Don't let your Cuddl Duds peek out from a low-cut neckline (unless you are extraordinarily gifted: one FABULOUS London fashmag editor I know wears thermal tees under everything and, by all accounts, pulls it off), but a thin camisole (yes, camisoles were originally intended to be worn UNDER other things, believe it or not) might make the difference between comfort and shivers.

    For your last question: good-quality tights are always in fashion, and even if they weren't, who cares? Readers of A Dress A Day set the fashion; they satisfy their own eyes, first and foremost. You can buy them at, or for the more adventuresome, Buy good ones; you won't regret it.

    Will you be as warm in a dress as you would be in pants? No. I won't lie to you. Pants are warmer. Snowsuits are warmer still, but I don't see folks wearing them every day from November to March (and remember: I live in CHICAGO. If people were going to wear snowsuits every day, this is where they would do it.) However, if you wear layers on top, sensible underlayers, tights, and (as mom always said) A HAT, you should be able to wear your dresses on all but the coldest days. (And on those days I'd better see you in a snowsuit. With your mittens on a string so you don't lose 'em.)


    Ms. Dressaday

    questions for Ms. Dressaday can be sent by email to the address on the right.

    O Marks the Spot

    yoni dress
    Frankly, I don't know what's more disturbing: the large and unfortunately-placed "press here" circles on the front of this dress; that two fairly-reasonable women chose to wear it; or that someone on the internets has scanned and posted the entire current issue of In Touch magazine on her blog. Yes, someone used at least $1000 of computing power to scan a $1.99 magazine.

    Of course, if she hadn't, I couldn't have shown you this dress, and besides, who am I to say that someone's internet hobby is pointless? So … Thank you! Thank you, Sammie323!

    Anybody ever seen this pattern?

    Petite and blonde, Sandra Dee inspired girls across the country to imitate her style. In Imitation of Life, Sandra's character wears a graduation dress designed by Jean Louis. To promote ticket sales, Universal ran ads telling mothers they could get a free sewing pattern of the dress if they sent in two tickets to the film. In the first month, the studio gave out fifteen thousand patterns and soon had to stop because they couldn't meet demand.

    From The Bad and the Beautiful, by Sam Kashner and Jennifer Macnair.

    Fifteen thousand? How come I've never seen or heard of one before now? A mystery. Anyone else seen one? I've looked all over for an image or scan … I might have to go hit the library and start flipping through old fashion mags from April 1959. (Oh, don't throw me in that briar patch …)

    Another Ebay Impulse

    vogue 5456
    It's sad when your idea of an impulse purchase is "buy something, wait five days for it to show up." But that's Ebay for you! And at least it was $2.99 including shipping.

    This is a very simple dress, simpler than I usually make, but it has two things going for it: one, it doesn't need very much fabric, so it's perfect for all the stuff I bought because I loved it but is too scant in yardage for the full-skirted stuff I usually go for, and two, it's so simple that I can use it with fabric that's got a strong diagonal design or crazy pattern that would overwhelm me in a "bigger" dress. (Not that I've ever really let that stop me before …)

    At least, that's the big idea. It shipped today, so ask me Thursday whether I was right …

    I know, I know, what's with the hip pockets again?

    butterick 6801
    Yeah, yeah, I know. Seriously. I have no idea myself. All I know is I keep dragging this pattern out of the box, keeping at the top of the stack for a while, and then putting it back.

    I want to make it because of the pockets, because of the sleeves, because of the neckline, and because of the stitching detail. And of course, it doesn't get made because of that same stitching detail — it just looks too much like work.

    Anyway, I think I need to start a new pile of patterns: the pile of stuff I'll have made for me by a tailor someday. (I've given up thinking that I'll make this myself, unless I sudden become even MORE masochistic than usual.) I can also put all those 1960s Vogue Couturier suit patterns in that pile, too. The idea is strangely liberating …