Not Martha

a small but tiring dress search

I have been looking for a dress for a daytime, outdoor wedding I’m attending this summer. This particular dress needed to be pretty, but also stand up to being packed in a bag for a few days as the wedding is on at a resort campground. The campground has massages and a beach, but we’re staying in a yurt so there are no closets. Also, I have some brown sandals that I’d like to wear so I was looking for a brown dress. Shopping is not something I do often so it’s been an exhausting search.

After a lot of looking for a dress that wasn’t empire waisted* I settled on this one from Anthropologie. It’s cotton gauze so I will stand up to a little broomstick packing, and there is a fun secret ruffle on the hem on the underskirt. The silhouette is flattering and it doesn’t require any fancy or strapless undergarments. I’m very pleased.

This is my first Anthropologie purchase since 2000, when I ordered an ill fated sweater set from the catalog that mysteriously showed up in my mailbox, back when I suspect there was only one physical store. I know a lot of people who are Anthropologie fans, so I’m surprised I’ve managed to go this long without falling under the spell.

I also flirted with this cute Ballet Dress from the Gap. It was delightfully swingy, but would have wrinkled when packed. If I wore dresses more often I might get this anyhow. Interestingly, I fit into a size 2 in this style, and I’m most definitely not a size 2.

Almost every dress I tried on this season has pockets on the side seams. What is with that?

* I simply cannot pull that look off without appearing a little pregnant, made worse because I’m at that age where people have started speculating that I could be any minute now.

· comments [35] · 05-9-2007 · categories:shopping ·

35 responses so far ↓

  • 1 lizzie // May 9, 2007 at 8:43 am

    i hear you – i’m the same way w/ this empire-trend. i also tried that gap dress, but the bust fit weirdly, i thought.

  • 2 candice // May 9, 2007 at 9:24 am

    trust me, you’ll never understand the true delight that is having pockets in a dress until you do. it’s just so pickin’ convenient! i must admit to being a bit of a pocket fanatic, though.

  • 3 Lenora // May 9, 2007 at 9:29 am

    Ill-fated? How so? Anthropologie is very love-hate for me. Cute clothes, disgusting prices, and not always very well made. For clothes with a distinct purpose–wedding, et c.–it makes a lot of sense.

  • 4 helenjane // May 9, 2007 at 9:30 am

    I hear you as well – even hooded sweatshirts come under bump-suspicion.

  • 5 Chelsea // May 9, 2007 at 10:01 am

    I recently finished my own hunt for a dress to wear to a wedding and settled on on simple wrap dress from Ann Taylor Loft. it of course appeared at my local store a week after I ordered it online…grrr…

  • 6 christine // May 9, 2007 at 11:01 am

    I am 7.5 months pregnant and cannot understand why someone who is NOT pregnant would wear those empire waisted shirts! I just bought a top from the gap outlet and it fits perfectly on me — in fact, I expect to be wearing this for the next 10 weeks (while I get bigger, and bigger and bigger…).

    This trend is weird.

  • 7 megan // May 9, 2007 at 11:10 am

    christine – The best explanation I have for it is nicely displayed in this post over at the Slog (the weblog of a Seattle weekly paper).

  • 8 megan // May 9, 2007 at 11:11 am

    Lenora – Only because it took weeks to reach me, and when I returned it it took nearly 8 months to get my money back.

  • 9 LAmonkeygirl // May 9, 2007 at 11:11 am

    I bought the exact same dress in brown from Anthropologie! The dress trend is appealing, but it’s difficult for me to find one that fits properly. I’m a petite 2, small on top, definite booty and thigh action, so nothing fits right. The gauze dress was a good compromise because it’s stretchy enough on top but full in the skirt. I haven’t worn it yet, but there are a few events coming up soon that I think will utilize it. Now, if only I could find a decently-priced but cute cardigan to wear over it…

  • 10 clkl // May 9, 2007 at 11:55 am

    Have you seen The Little Brown Dress project? When I saw the picture of your dress in my rss feed, I thought you were going to take on a similar project!

    (If you did, I bet there’d be 365 totally original and wonderful outfits as a result!)

  • 11 Tara // May 9, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    You get to stay in a YURT! How fabulous!

    I love the brown dress.

  • 12 Minna // May 9, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    Oh, you couldn’t make a nice dress? :) I love the ballet dress though, too bad you wont have iron.access!

  • 13 megan // May 9, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    Minna – I considered it but when it comes to stretchy fabrics I find it’s best left to the professionals. The waistband of this dress is smocked elastic, and the whole thing is made out of gauze, all very futzy and not worth in my learning curve/time vs. value equations.

  • 14 Amy K // May 9, 2007 at 4:06 pm

    I do want to hear more about the yurt! And yes, finding dresses is always a crap shoot.

  • 15 Shari // May 9, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    That gauze is a perfect solution and this dress is more dressier than I’ve seen previous gauze dresses to be. Great choice! Also, I know the perfect earrings to go with it.

  • 16 Lisa // May 9, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    J Crew has fantastic dresses. A lot of theirs are for the wedding party, but they are still classic and lovely.

  • 17 Natalie // May 10, 2007 at 6:02 am

    As a landscape architect I work with an urban strategist who does business with major retailers, malls and “lifestyle centers”. Merchandising, advertising, etc… He admitted that in the next year or so, all women’s clothing will shift down a size. So if I currently take an XL, within the year I’ll be a L. 10’s will become 8, etc. Their research seems to suggest that if women discover they’ve ‘gone down a size’, they will donate their current wardrobe to charity and purchase an entirely new one. When you mentioned you most definitely weren’t a 2, I wondered if a similar strategy has already been implemented in some stores… that or else you are truly diligent at rationing Mini Eggs, and I’m envious! :)

  • 18 ljc // May 10, 2007 at 7:38 am

    Is it just me or are 90% of the dresses out empire waisted? I can’t wear them either! It’s frustrating.

  • 19 megan // May 10, 2007 at 7:56 am

    Natalie – I have been tracking the sizes going down but this particular size 2 dress was unusual. I asked a (very nice) sales girl about it, she called over her manager to show her, and the manager said something to suggest the extreme size difference was why they weren’t selling.

  • 20 Rebecca // May 10, 2007 at 8:10 am

    Most people look a bit preggers in those empire waist things – even my very thin, very young, college-aged daughter! Lovely dress, the one you picked, simply lovely!

  • 21 Barrie // May 10, 2007 at 8:52 am


    that’s actually a great deal for anthropologie. usually you can’t get anything there for under $100. so pat yourself on the back and have a good time at the wedding.

    oh, and i’ve totally embraced the pocket thing. i recently bought a dress that had a pocket you could take off with a zipper. this means a)i could put my ipod in it and b) i could leave money in there to discover later (which happened!)

  • 22 jamie // May 10, 2007 at 9:48 am

    i feel like 90% of pretty summer dresses out there are v-necks that are too plungy, especially if you need a bra. i think they’re really flattering on other women. but personally i can’t find a reasonably priced one that doesn’t show too much of my average cleavage. if they were just a bit less revealing, i’d be in dress heaven because everything else about the fit is great. and that brown dress is really lovely! i’ll just covet it from afar…

  • 23 Psychobabble // May 10, 2007 at 11:00 am

    That age is from 22-48, just so you know.
    Pretty dress, btw

    traveled here from

  • 24 Jill // May 10, 2007 at 11:33 am

    I hear you on the empire waisted look– not because I’m of that age(I’m not) but because they aren’t always that forgiving to a bit of…pudge. And as for the pockets?? Pockets are just freakin sweet!!

  • 25 Ashley // May 10, 2007 at 1:19 pm

    I just returned this dress to Anthro. Sorry to tell you but it has pockets also. The pockets don’t seem to give it that “preggers” look but there is a little frilly slip underneath that adds bulk. But if you are a size 2 it will look great on you.

  • 26 renny // May 10, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    I’ve stayed almost the same weight since college (10 years now), and yet I’ve been dropping clothing sizes in the US. Particularly at the Gap and Banana Republic. I’m a size 2 at BR these days, but a size 6 most everywhere else. And if I go back to Australia, I’m a size 12!
    I also like to wear vintage clothes, and waaaay back when, I was about a size 10. I wonder what the teeny women will do if their clothing size disappears?

  • 27 Lynda // May 10, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    I just discovered this dress from Calpysco on one of my guilty pleasure blogs, It’s the blog of Mindy Kaling who plays Kelly on The Office and she has a great eye for stylish finds (and the blog is a hoot)


  • 28 Kristi // May 10, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    I was checking out the vintage dress patterns online and I noticed that almost all of the dresses had pockets.
    I think the pockets just need to be designed correctly to prevent the pregnancy look.

  • 29 renny // May 10, 2007 at 4:21 pm

    I was just on the forever 21 website. They’ve totally copied the anthropolgie brown dress, and it’s only $22. Though it only has 3 sizes, and uses smocking to cinch around the waist. From a distance, it’s the same dress. Crazy.

  • 30 Abby // May 10, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    3 words: Downy Wrinkle Releaser. Just get a travel size, toss it in your pack, take a coat hanger with you and hang the dress up before the wedding (on a hook, a door, your finger..) spray it and wear it. Done and done – I don’t travel anywhere without it!

  • 31 Sara // May 10, 2007 at 8:07 pm

    Man, love that dress. I also love the Gap dress, but I think that’s a look you can’t wear if you’ve got a larger chest….

  • 32 angela // May 11, 2007 at 5:08 am

    i just wore the blue version of this to a wedding last weekend, and found it sort of stretched as the day went on. i had already had to alter the front to hide my bra from showing, and i wished i had shortened the shoulders a bit too. super comfy though… i felt like i had my pj’s on all day. which, for me, is always the goal of any outfit. :)

  • 33 Jen Schaffer // May 12, 2007 at 6:21 am

    I totally hear you on the empire waist/pregnancy look! I am exactly of that age too, and having been married a couple of years, you just KNOW people are looking!

    I wanted to buy this dress at Old Navy to bum around in this summer (, but alas — pregnancy look! Even the Mr. acknowledge it, and he rarely sees it as I see it. I always say when I try on something, “If I WAS pregnant this would be great!”

    In terms of brown dress — I got this one ( from Target for a wedding this summer. Super comfy lace — and much more flattering than I thought it would be and a steal at that! I am thinking of doing a pink ribbon belt instead of brown on brown.

  • 34 kat // May 13, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    i like jersey dresses for travel and dressing up. they don’t need ironing and don’t wrinkle! this is so pretty!

  • 35 miranda // May 14, 2007 at 9:39 pm

    That’s a lovely dress! I think it’s nicer than the Gap dress and should take you through summer weddings well.

    To all the empire haters… I am extremely, disproportionately busty, and am also somewhat thick-waisted. It’s the bane of my existence. The shirts people are dissing here, with the band under the bust, are really flattering if you’re busty and don’t have an ultra-toned waist, or if you somehow bulge at the waistline of your jeans. However, any gathers need to be in the bustline, above the waistband. If they’re set into the bottom of the waistband and gather the “skirt” part of the top, it’s gonna be a disaster for anyone. That’s the difference between an empire-waisted top and a maternity top – the non-maternity top needs to just have an A-line lower half.

    I’m also looking forward to the size-shrinking some ppl were discussing above. Right now, I’m too big for most stores’ XL and too small for plus sizes. It’s not fun; I can basically only get clothes at Target or Torrid, if I don’t want to do clothing surgery. Even so, a lot of stores don’t sell XL except on their websites (Anthropologie is a good example – I’ve never been in one of their stores where the largest size they sell was actually stocked).

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