Jen Style: Summer’s coming

Yahoo ImagesA couple weeks ago, we had our own Jen on the Edge version of a fashion reality show, in which y’all gave a friend of mine some really excellent advice about how to accessorize a dress she’s wearing to a wedding next month. If she shares photos with me afterward, I promise to follow up here to show you who she listened to and who she ignored.

Anyway, another friend of mine has asked me to help her find cute casual summer dresses. She wants dresses that are figure flattering and comfortable for a busy day, but nothing too tight, too short*, or too revealing. She’d like pretty colors and/or patterns. And preferably something that costs no more than $50-60.

*Speaking of modesty under dresses, I sometimes wear tight running shorts under mine so that I don’t accidentally flash anyone. 

Okay, I’m up for the challenge, so I spent some time online over the weekend and came up with lots of possibilities. I will tell you now that I am going to be window shopping at stores that might include sweatshop labor, so if that’s a priority to any of you, caveat emptor.

I started off at Target, because most Americans have access to a Target and, if you don’t, then you can order these online.

Let’s start this off with this sweet dress:

Target. $19.99. Available in a variety of colors.

How cute is this?! If I were getting it, I’d probably go for the deep Viking Purple or the navy, but that’s just me. It looks like it would drape nicely and not be too loose or too tight. It’s hard to tell if the neckline would expose things that you’d rather not expose, but I think it might be okay.

Here’s another cutie:

Target. $19.99. Available in a rainbow of colors.

On the computer screen, this dress looks like it would be flattering to a lot of figures. If you’re not crazy about the lack of sleeves, you could put a short-sleeve cardi or shrug over it.

Other options at Le Tarzhay:

On a whim, I checked out Lands’ End. I’ve been shopping there for almost 25 years, so that would be one of my first places to look for myself. Their prices have been creeping up in the past few years, so I wasn’t sure I’d find anything in the designated price range. Luckily,  I was wrong.

Now we’re going to move on to a dress I found at Walmart. Don’t be surprised. While I don’t normally shop there, I did see a great blouse and scarf on a blog last year that were from Walmart and they were so cute that I had to have them. My total outlay was less than $20 for the two and I wear them all the time.

Anyway, there are loads of knit dresses at Walmart, many of which are very similar to the ones linked from Target. But I hadn’t found many prints yet, so was happy to find this one in several different patterns and colors. I’m totally digging the blue paisley and at $14, you could buy several versions of the same dress.

After Walmart, I went to Old Navy. What do you think of this Hawaiian inspired sundress:

Old Navy. $29.94.

Or how about this dress in 2012′s hot color:

Old Navy. $29.94. Various colors.


From Old Navy, it was a simple single click to check out the Gap’s offerings. (They’re owned by the same company, so their websites are joined.)

Gap. $69.95.

Okay, yes this is above the set price point, but I had to include it. It’s just too darn cute to ignore. Thinking about my own closet, I have several pairs of shoes and loads of accessories that would look great with this. Really, the question is: What wouldn’t go with this dress?

Other Gap offerings:

I clicked over to Sears to see what they have going on over there. I ignored everything in the Kardashian Kollection because I refuse to konsider klothing spelled with kute konsonants. I also filtered out all the maxi dresses, which seems to be a Sears specialty this season, as well as the utterly hiddy dresses, of which there were far too many. I did, however, find a handful for you to consider:

After that, I went over to JCPenney and looked around and was reminded why I don’t shop there, due to their over-reliance on large-scale florals that I don’t particularly care for. Also, they seem to really like hot pink. Like, they’re all still heavily into their Barbie phase over there. And I personally don’t care for hot pink, as I am not an anatomically incorrect plastic doll with a eunuch for a boyfriend. That said, I did find two possibilities:

So those are the options I put together for my friend for this summer. Hopefully, there’s something here she’ll like. If any of you have any ideas, please share them with us.

P.S. Some of y’all have asked me to post photos of my own outfits. I am feeling ambivalent about this, but will at least entertain the idea if there’s actual interest in the concept. If I did, what would you want to see? Would you just want to see the photos or know where I bought things?

P.P.S No need to worry that I’m becoming a style blogger. Not. Gonna. Happen. But it’s possible this will become an occasional series of posts as topics come up.

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10 Responses to Jen Style: Summer’s coming

  1. I’ve started buying a lot of these type of dresses. I’ve found them at H&M and Kohl’s for under $20 and at Burlington Coat Factory for under $10! They are my go-to outfits for going out to eat or shopping. They get matched with my growing collection of cute sandals and flip-flops and brightly colored bracelets and earrings.

    The down side to my Florida closet is that I have NO appropriate clothes to take to Massachusetts in 2 weeks. I have a feeling I’m going to freeeeeze!

  2. Cute dresses–but the waists on some of them seem a bit high, don’t you think? Or is it just me?

    • Not just you! I have to buy “long” swimsuit sizes and some of these dresses (cute though they are) would have an empire waist on me. At 46 and clearly past my child-bearing years, I can’t wear anything that makes me look pregnant fat.

  3. Lori H says:

    Thanks for the great picks. I am dreading finding shorts and I think sundresses might be the way to go.

  4. Patience says:

    I think dresses are much more cool, comfortable and flattering in the summer than shorts. For a knit dress to be flattering, it must have some sort of seam or waistband, or something that breaks up the line between the upper and lower halves of the body. Knit dresses that just hang straight from the shoulders make people look lumpy.

    Zappos is a fabulous resource for dresses, and they ship overnight for free and make it easy to return things. A few brands I like: Prana, Patagonia, Northface, Columbia, Horny Toad.

  5. bdaiss says:

    Ha! I was just ogling that first dress earlier today (relieving the stress from my search for a horrid pair of black skinny jeans with some window shopping). I admit – I’m more a skirt/top gal. More possibilities in less closet space. Plus a dress instantly makes people ’round here say “what are you all dressed up for?” My stock answer lately: “Me.”

  6. Karin says:

    I love the second dress, and the polo dress from Land’s End is very cute. You just saved me a lot of work on my own hunt for cute summer dresses. My credit card may be crying by tomorrow!

  7. I might have to check a few of these out, esp. when you mentioned the color purple. My son is getting married in early August and while I think I have an outfit to wear to the wedding itself (if the silver skirt I bought wins approval), I still need something to wear to the rehearsal.
    Inexpensive is my friend. Plus, I am fashion-challenged and happy to be getting advice here from down-to-earth and sensible people.

  8. Wow, Jen! I really like how thorough this is. The choices are versatile and well within the criteria.
    As a former fashion stylist I would add one thing. Before your friend does any shopping she should assess her fashion personality. Knowing what style elements are important to her and her personal style are key in purchasing items that you love on the rack or when you try them on in the store (where your brain can get muddled after hours of trying on clothes) or that you purchased just because the price is right from merely taking up closet space.

    There are four basic fashion personalities: Natural, Classic, Dramatic and Romantic. Usually one is dominant and there is a strong secondary which create your individual taste.

    Naturals want comfortable, functional clothing.
    Classics are usually a bit preppy and choose long lasting styles.
    Dramatics like cutting edge trends and will make sacrifices regarding comfort for a look.
    Romantics like frills, lace, floral patterns, flounces and pearls- soft very feminine looks.

    If budget is a concern, I suggest going with classic or non trendy styles of dresses and using accessories (bags, shoes, scarves, hats and jewelry) to personalize the look.

  9. My response id:

    Dear Target,

    Why do you have such pretty dresses for everyone but the plus size women? Those dresses could very easily be made into larger sizes and sel very well even at a higher price point.

    Please consider this request.

    Mrs. Brightside

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