Dear the seven people who read this, or maybe six, This is a little thing we call ‘ fashion journalism.’ I suck.
WHERE TO GET A BARGAIN SUMMER DRESS
(Before I begin, it is important to mention the embarrassing amount of times I have brought up the above pictured dress in conversation.)
You don’t need me to tell you that a vast array of cute dresses is crucial for the summer. It’s a easy way to look cute with little effort, and they keep you properly ventilated. I mean, who wants to trudge through 90 degree humidity with frizzy hair AND stinky pants? Ew. Not me. A light summer dress releases you from the prison of (literal) Hot Pants, and forces you to embrace your inner forest fairy. They are the essence of girl.
Before I get specific in terms of where to look: here’s a few dress-buying tips:
It’s good to have a few special occasion dresses: dresses with louder prints, bolder designs. But it’s MORE important – and more economical – to invest in a dress that can be dressed up or down – and that you can imagine yourself wearing for a few years.
Okay, Now you are convinced. I know. I’m terribly convincing. But before you blow your rent at Anthropologie or Zara, let it be known that cute summer dresses do NOT have to blow your bank. A few of my favorite hot spots for good dresses are Old Navy, Forever 21, American Apparel, and yes – Goodwill.
Also, know that if you get the season’s It dress – the crazy patterned seasonal dress from Old Navy or Forever 21 or the Gap, what have you – you most likely will see every one and their Mother wearing it as you waltz down the street, feeling special in your new find. But if this doesn’t bother you – go for it. This used to happen with the winter striped sweater at the Gap every year. You remember. Claire Thomas had it, and you wanted it.
Let’s start with the old favorite, the massive (hit-or-miss) cheap as cute wherehouse that is Old Navy. Or, as my vegan, socially conscience friend lovingly refers to it: Old Slavey. If the whole sweat shop thing doesn’t irk you too much, definitely check Old Navy out for soft, light-weight flowy dresses. Here, you’ll find quite a spread of lengths and cuts, from bathing suit throw-overs to business casual from $18-$34. Nice. Old Navy doesn’t always have the best color choices (sometimes I wish they’d use more primary colors) and it’s oftentimes a season behind in terms of style, but if you’re looking for something simple, this is great place to check. My favorite Old Navy Dress is ankle-length and soft army green with an empire waist and a cute plunging neck line. It looks great with gladiators and is perfect for bumming around. Purchased this season for just $24.
Next up, Forever 21. And you thought Old Navy was overwhelming! This ginormous store literally overflows with cute dresses. The product in these huge stores changes CONSTANTLY – and there are hundreds of dresses to choose from. They’re not the most well made dresses in the world – which is why they run from about 15-30 bucks. This is where I oftentimes find my special occasion summer dresses. The ‘I just got off work and I hate all my clothes and I have 20 dollars to my name, and I’m definitely going to spend it on a dress’ dress. The ‘I’m going to see this guy tonight and he can’t see me in anything I’ve worn before’ dress. You know the dress of which I speak. Forever is great for patterns: florals, strips, and cuts for all walks of life. Give yourself ample time to shop in this store. The catch with Forever is that they don’t call it Forever 21 For nothing. Sometimes the dress appear to be a – bit – youthful. But even at my ripe age of 25, I always find something appropriate. My favorite Forever 21 Dress was purchased a few weeks ago for a Fourth of July BBQ. At just $20, it was perfect for the day. It’s navy blue with small orange and beige flowers: strapless with an empire waist, with a soft, flowy skirt that hits me just about the knees. Comfy, cute: maybe spilled some Independence Beer on myself. Did I mind? H no. It cost me a tiny non-fortune.
Okay, Oh Man, do I love American Apparel. Maybe the CEO is suspected of seducing his youthful, scantily clad employees – maybe that’s happening but – I can’t get enough of their clothes. I love primary colors, and American Apparel knows just how to pick the right ones and the right styles. Each year, American Apparel releases a few new styles of dresses, as well as the old faithfuls: tube top dresses, wife-beater-esque dresses, soft, stretchy shifts whose straps tie into 18,000 cute combinations. The best part is: they come in the best colors. Of course, you’ve got your black, white, gray: but you’ve also got bright reds, blues, purples, Kelly green, yellows: name your favorite color, and they’ve got your dress. These are dresses are a bit more pricey ($30-$40) but I guarantee you, they are so comfy and classy, they are well worth it. My favorite American Apparel Dress is Black and the Best. It’s like a super soft, dress version of a wife beater. It’s got a bit of a shape to it to show off your curves, and is short (but not too short.) I wear it to work, then turn around and throw it over a bathing suit. Yes, please!
Finally, don’t fight me on this, Goodwill. I have always been an avid Goodwill shopper, scowering the 6 Goodwills within driving distance of my hometown (Winston-Salem, NC) on a bi-weekly basis. My Dad calls me the Dumpster Diver, a name I lovingly accept. The thing about shopping at Goodwill is that it takes dedication. I in fact hate vintage stores because a.) they are over priced and b) you totally loose the thrill of the hunt. If you’re going to Good will it, give yourself time to really search through the racks: looks for softer, older fabrics and interesting/weird/unique prints. One more tip: the more run-down Goodwills actually have better stuff than the nicer ones; also, if they Goodwill is in a notorious ‘Old People’ neighborhood, you will probably strike Gold. So, to the dress: think about it: each season the ‘new’ style of dress is somehow reflective of an older style. Fashion tends to re-embrace old trends. Nothing is ever completely new. So if you get a sense of what the ‘new’ dress is that season ‘ trust me – go to Goodwill – and you will find something exactly like it. Not only is it ‘in’, it costs you FIVE BUCKS, and it’s unique to YOU! NO ONE ELSE WILL HAVE IT! For example – now – we all want pockets in our dresses. Dresses with pockets are cute/amazing/PRACTICAL, and so flattering. I recently pillaged the Goodwill in Raleigh, North Carolina and found my New Summer Dress: it’s old school Liz Claiborne (seriously): sleeveless, a dark hunter green, has the cutest slanted pockets on the front: hits me just above the knees, and has the these big, hunter green buttons placed down the front. I love it, it’s in, and it’s Mine. (No one else’s. Mine.)
In conclusion, when it comes to the dress, it’s important not to try too hard to wear what’s in. I love My Green Goodwill even though it’s not an EXACT replica of something you’d see in lucky; it’s a VERSION of it: my version, that encompasses who I am, and the way that I dress. Don’t over-dress yourself when it comes to pairing your new find with shoes and jewelry. Blend your natural pretty with just a hint of what’s in.