The right dress can make you feel magical, am I right? I think there is a part of most of us, no matter how large or small, that loves the idea of getting all gussied up — there is a certain real life fairytale thing that happens when you take off those legging as pants and put on something fancy (a.k.a. anything other than stretch fabric.) After all, it can be easy to forget how well we clean up during the weekly grind that is going to bed late, waking up early, commuting to work, and keeping up with every other personal and professional obligation in between.
When we step back and think about our busier-than-ever schedules, we all truly deserve a round of applause for getting to work on time (give or take 15 minutes if you are me) showered, and clothed! However, a busy bee does not necessarily have to equal a slouchy bee and, while I own quite a few dresses, I can admit that I have recently fallen into a pants party rut, rotating between a couple pairs of overworked black pants and various tops that I am quite certain everyone around me has tired of seeing. As such, I decided to take a stand and challenge myself to wear a different dress every day for seven days and thus, Dress Week 2015 was born!
For some reason, if we find we have been out of the dress game for a minute, the idea of wearing said article of clothing can be daunting, at least for me. It isn't that scouring my closet for matching trousers and tops every morning is a dream, but somehow as of late, I have tricked myself into believing that the two-piece ensemble is easier, more comfortable or less of a hassle than putting on a dress. TBH, I tell myself a lot of things as I am trying to quickly get ready in the morning and, chances are, most of them are probably untrue if I haven't had at least two cups of coffee. But, as with most things in the early hours of the day, getting dressed is mind over matter and for one week, I would not allow my half asleep self to insist that black ankle pants and any number of readily available peplum tops was my look du jour. Nope, I was going to transform and bare my legs every day like a boss.
Seven days. Seven dresses. No pants. Challenge accepted.
Day 1: Monday, Striped Shift Dress
For the first day of dress-wearing, I opted for an easy three-fourth sleeve shift dress. It was Monday, after all, and sometimes on Monday simply switching from pajamas to real clothes seems like an insurmountable feat, so this J. Crew spring staple seemed an appropriate way to dip my toe in the water and begin the week.
While this is by no means the fanciest dress I own, I was donning flats and my hair was admittedly in a messy bun, I accessorized with a floral scarf for a little print mixing and was easily on my way. I didn’t have to worry about searching for a shirt that matched my pants and, as I walked out the door, I felt more put together than usual, ready to take on the day. First dress of the week: check. Bright outlook on Monday: check. Thus far, dress week was a total success.
Day 2: Tuesday, Swing Dress
On Tuesday, I was headed to work and then straight to dinner with my parents who were in town for a visit. As I live in Florida, and it happens to be unseasonably warm already, I knew I needed something that could easily transition from work appropriate to comfortable yet cute and cool for strolling around the Boardwalk before heading to the restaurant. As luck would have it, a black swing dress I recently picked up perfectly fulfilled all of these needs. In this easy silhouette, I was crazy comfortable all day, but again, felt more dressed up and confident than I had in a while. Another win for dress week!
Day 3: Wednesday, Sleeveless Collared Dress
By day three I was fully invested in my dress endeavor. I chose a black silk collared shirt dress that I tend to dress up with heels and statement jewelry. However, as I was getting ready, I remembered the plethora of meetings I had that day, in various parts of the building, that I would likely be frantically running to and from. Also, post-work I would be out and about with my parents for the second night of their visit, which meant heels were definitely not conducive for this day.
Have no fear, on day three, we see how flexible a great staple dress can be — I switched out my heels for ballet flats in a pop color and my statement jewelry for a printed scarf and, voila! I was ready for my day, feeling fabulous, in an outfit that would hold up against my many obligations without making me feel frumpy in the least. We are officially on a roll, people!
Day 4: Thursday, Pattern Dress And Cardi Party
Over halfway through dress week and still feeling strong. While I much prefer this dress without the cardigan, it has thin lace straps and I am working with a conservative dress code, so the cover up was a must. However, even with the sweater, I liked this dress better than most pant/top combinations I had been rocking as of late and I went the extra mile and put on some heels, which really can change your whole outlook. Thursday was pretty uneventful, but I was happy all day in my dress and even found myself strutting around a bit here and there with some extra pep in my step. Chalk another one up for dress week.
Day 5: Friday, Fun Floral Batwing Dress
Friday, Friday, still wearing a dress on Friday! I have a tendency to wear jeans on Fridays, likely out of habit or maybe because I feel like I have made it through the week and I deserve to wear my favorite denim as a reward. Whatever the reason, I stuck to the experiment and left my denim in the closet. And you know what? I liked it!
I originally bought this dress for one of my best friend’s baby showers and while it is a favorite of mine, I never feel like I have the opportunity to wear it. Well, come to find out, paired with springy flats and a top knot, it is the perfect, comfortable, Anthropologie-esque, end of the week look. Dress week, you sneaky devil — showing me how multi-functional my wardrobe actually is.
Day 6: Saturday, Pop Pink Maxi Dress
The weekend is here! This means two things: Spending the morning on the couch drinking coffee, which does not require a dress (or anything but I-woke-up-like-this pajamas for that matter) and an afternoon of being out and about with the parents before a birthday dinner for dad.
My new pink maxi dress hadn’t been worn since its debut in Mexico a couple months ago and this was seemingly the perfect opportunity to bring it back out. I always think a maxi dress is a great piece to transition through your spring or summer day and this one, with the flowy fabric and ruched neckline, was both easy breezy for day time galavanting and just dressed up enough for a vacation style dinner celebration. Dress week lesson: When in dress doubt, opt for a maxi, especially on the weekend.
Day 7: Sunday, Stripe Sundress
Sunday Funday and plans are as follows: Brunch, a trip to the farmer's market, dinner and drinks on a patio somewhere — mom and dad know how to make the most of their time in sunny Florida after being cooped up in Ohio all winter!
On Sunday, I am normally drawn to my yoga pants like a moth to a flame. However, this was the last day of dress week and I had big plans so I unwillingly stripped off the spandex and zipped myself up into this red and blue striped dress and, wait for it, I was super happy I did. Sure, yoga pants are fabulous weekend lounging attire that I will never totally abandon, but putting on a dress and sandals was refreshing — I felt like I was doing Sunday Funday justice and my dressed up ensemble even made me forget about the bad hair day I was clearly having.
Dress Week 2015 was a total success. Not only did I realize what a complete rut I was in, I rediscovered my love of dresses — they are easy wardrobe pieces that make you feel like a lady boss. Flexible silhouettes and styles can be easily fancied up for fun or dressed down for a casual look that is even preferable to other ensembles wrongly deemed more comfortable or easier to put together. Dresses do not have to be daunting, but rather can be great options to throw into the work week rotation.
Throughout the week, I also noticed that I was more confident and felt just a little bit better about myself. I think sometimes it is easy to forget that what we wear can easily affect our mood and our outlook — if you look good, you tend to feel good and you project a more self confident image. Regina Brett was quoted as saying, "No matter what, get up, dress up and show up," and there is great truth in that advice. There were times over the last seven days when I absolutely did not want to put on a dress, but every time I did, I felt like I was ready to show up and own the day ahead — there is truly something to be said for dressing the part. Putting on a dress when you feel tired or frumpy won't make you feel worse, but dressing down to your mood certainly won't make you feel better.
Overall, variety in your weekly wardrobe lineup is probably best, but I am definitely all in on dresses being a staple piece. I'll be breaking out a few of my tried and true as the weather continues to warm and, of course, shopping for some new pieces to add to the collection. In my mind, all good experiments end with an excuse for a little retail therapy.
Images: Author's Own