Monday, July 7, 2014

See Jane Buy a Maxi Dress?

Our discriminating Jane is back, this time shopping for the perfect maxi dress.  She's opinionated and determined.  Let's see what she's up to for this week's iCafe Woman Moderne text-webisode.

Oh, for the love of stripes!  Can we please get away from the stripes, dominating today's maxi dresses?  It's hard to miss this abundance of small, big, diagonals, horizontals, verticals and a mix of horizontals and verticals, cropping up at a retail store near you. 

Sad but true, stripes are not always pleasing to a girl's figure, especially the horizontals.  But that fact alone doesn't stop store buyers from loading their racks with striped maxi dresses in an assortment of colors.

Affordable Maxi Dresses
Many of today's budget-friendly maxi dresses just don't make sense.  Yeah, I said it.  Back when every home had Fun with Dick and Jane next to their Encyclopedia Britannica, the affordable maxi dress style seemed to make better fashion sense.  At least it did in my Dr. Seuss-filled head.

Unfortunately, I was too young to wear one during its hey-day, but I managed to get my first and last maxi coat just before the fashion trend left the runway.   So yes, my review of yesterday's maxis come from an adolescent perspective.  And in all fairness to the maxi dress, I guess I should dig a little deeper now that I'm an adult.   I'll grab a pink shovel. 

Popular Again
Maxi dress designs stepped back into the fashion scene several years ago.   But the affordable ones, IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) don't pass the fashion mustard.  The seventies dress below has the interesting Aztec design popular back then.  It looks like it flows when you move in casual and formal settings.  

I love the flattering neckline and empire waist that look great on most figures.  Many of today's affordable brands are clingy with plunging necklines.  I don't mind a feminine neckline that keeps the mystery alive.  But when it stops only inches away from your belly button, and your chest becomes a billboard--that's not for me.

Now I understand why lately I've spotted more women wearing tees under their maxi dresses.  Plunging necklines and clingy fabric are probably the culprit.  

After window-shopping maxi dresses for a few years, I finally tried on one a week ago at my husband's urging. 

Our dialogue went something this.

"You've got to try his on ... it's red and it's hot and it's only $16.99.  It's in my budget, so try it on."

"I don't know.  The neckline's too low, the material's cheap and it's a size too big.  That's the only one?"

"Yep, just try it on.  You keep shopping for maxis but you don't try any on."

"Because most of the ones I can afford are made from cheap material like this one ...have low necklines and have those lovely horizontal stripes I avoid like the plague.  Why do most of them have horizontal stripes.  I'm not trying to look wide."

After a few more back and forth comments, I tried it on just to shut him up.  As I suspected, the material was flimsy, the neckline too plunging and the shell bra could barely cover a clam shell.  

Join Us in the Great Room
Welcome to this week's iCafe Woman Moderne's text-webisode:  See Jane Buy a Maxi Dress?  Kiki sends her miracles and blessings from a nearby beach, slurping on a water ice.  You can call me Jane for this text-webisode as I review the good, the sad and the hopeful  (not necessarily in that order) ... as I search for my perfect maxi dress.  Maybe I'll find it by Labor Day.  A girl can dream.

If not, you may see Jane Buy a Vintage Maxi Pattern.  Okay, I know what you're thinking ...the vintage maxi to the left is a little out there.  That's why I love it so much.  

True it may not flatter many figures, mine included, but I like the uniqueness of it all.  It's eye-catching and definitely not cut from the same fabric and dress form you see in stores and online.  A lot of today's maxi dresses are too cookie-cutter for my taste.

Let's Recap
So let's recap.  I'm looking for different, figure-flattering, affordable and No Horizontal Stripes.

In early Spring, iCafe Woman Moderne presented some beautiful Clover Canyon maxis that unfortunately were not in my current budget.  But I'm not giving up, let's take to the superhighway and see what we find.

Let's start with the Good.

The Good Maxi 
I love this keyhole neckline.  It looks comfortable and the pattern reminds me of the sixties.  This would look great at the beach, a summer wedding or just a night on the town.  But since the model's walking on the runway, it's probably pricey.

This unique maxi would probably work better in the Fall.  You could wear this to work or at a cocktail party.  It's a definite head-turner.

This is exactly what I'm looking for.   You can dress it up or down and definitely budget-friendly.


Red is one of my favorite colors.  The neckline isn't too low.  And it looks like it would flatter my short-waisted figure.  Now I've got to find it in my budget.  That's the challenge.

So the keyhole and the scooped neck short-sleeved dresses are my winners.  But this comparison journey made me realize one thing. Today's stripes are yesterday's flowers.  As I dug into the maxi design, I discovered that the sixties and seventies flowered granny maxis were everywhere, just like today's stripes.  

The Sad Maxi Dress
Sure, there were a lot of cool geometric designs, but flowers ran the catwalks.  And yeah, there were plunging necklines, but mostly women had to contend with those puffy granny sleeves.  So I must admit, some of yesterday's maxi dresses didn't make fashion sense either.  Like the one below it a halter dress?  Is it a sarong?  Or should it cover grandma's couch?

This Michael Stars maxi is what I call too much -- too low, too see-through, too many stripes and not versatile enough.  A shrug may amp up its versatility.

Kenzie Women's Floral Camo

I'm not crazy about the camo flowers.  If I'm going with flowers, it has to be a softer look.  I don't want my dress to look like I'm ready for a hunting trip.

The Hopeful Maxi Dress
Clover Canyon maxi dresses are unique, eye-catching, artistic and are made in various fabrics from crepe de chine to jersey.  They're well-constructed and appear comfortable to wear.  Sale prices were a few dollars short of $200.  Regular prices are $250 and up.

Yes, there are some stripes, but they blend in with the vibrant pattern.  It looks like a beautiful abstract painting.

I made these chevron stripes an exception with this dress.  You can see how these diagonals slim you, keep the eyes moving and not focus on a problem area.

What about you?  Have you found your perfect maxi dress?  Send us a photo and we'll show it on a future text-webisode.