22 February 2007

The default dress.

Some days, a woman wakes up and knows immediately what she wants to wear.

Other days, she wakes up and has an idea of what she wants to wear but goes through a frustrating pile full of skirt-blouse-sweater-jacket-pump-flat permutations before settling on just the right combination.

And then there are those days.

The days where you reach a point where your mind stops thinking creatively, and if you don't catch yourself, you just might walk out the door in that pair of pleated cuffed high-waisted trousers, that butterfly-collared oxford and those block-heeled white-trimmed navy spectators your Mom passed down to you after graduation for your first big DC interview.

Unless, of course, you did what I did and declined the gesture - and every subsequent one - but kindly offered to take a cash donation in its place.

If you don't have my talent for tactlessness, you need a default option to which you can turn in your moment of time-crunch desperation -- quite simply, you need a sheath.

The sheath, like a simple black pump, pearl earrings or a jewel-toned blousy-sleeved satin mini, is a wardrobe essential.

Pick one in a muted color like black, grey or ivory.

Pick one that is lined and in a mid-weight (i.e. year-round) fabric.

Pick one that is fitted and doesn't pucker across the hips or stomach.

Pick one that ends within two inches of your knee.

Pick one with a neckline that flatters your shoulders and chest.

Pick one with sleeves that either accentuates or hides your toned/floppy arms.

Here are my choices for the sheath dresses that would look as good on size 4 as on a size 10, those that would be as comfortable in July as in February, and those that would be as acceptable at a PR firm as at a three-letter-agency:

Top to bottom:
1. Stretch wool sleeveless dress ($69.99 at bloomingdales.com)

2. Keyhole-dress by Cynthia Steffe ($250 at bloomingdales.com)

3. Shift dress by AKA New York ($74.49 at shopbop.com)

4. ‘50s pencil dress by Alice + Olivia ($198 at shopbop.com)

5. Scout dress by 3.1 Phillip Lim ($550 at net-a-porter.com)

6. Drape front dress by Rachel Pally ($216 at activeendeavors.com)

7. Fine weave knit dress by St. John ($950 at saks.com)

8. Merino dress by Tory Burch ($350 at saks.com)

9. Matte jersey sheath by David Meister ($280 at saks.com)*

10. Tank dress by Melissa Masse ($250 at neimanmarcus.com)

11. Tulip sleeved jersey dress by Fendi ($1,250 at eluxury.com)

12. Wool shift dress by Fendi ($990 at net-a-porter.com)*

*your editrix's picks

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