Fab Collab: Celebrating Summer in a Sundress at 40-Plus

4 women ranging in age from 40s to 70s style sundresses

Hey, all you beautiful people! Jodie, Nancy, and Charlotte from JTouchofStyle.com are back this week to join me for our second Fab Collab! This time, we’re featuring that summer staple, the sundress. If you were in on our first Fab Collab, you know that each of us represent a different decade in life. I’m in my 40s, Jodie’s in her 50s, Nancy’s in her 60s, and Charlotte is in her 70s.

In addition to styling a modern-day version of the sundress, we’re sharing our own personal connections to a particular summer dress from the past. We hope you’ll join us all week for the Fab Collab Fun!

For your convenience, I’ll be linking all of Jodie’s posts from my blog here, but I recommend heading over to Jodie’s blog and subscribing so as not to miss out on a moment of the fun.

Three cheers for summer and Fab Collabs!

A Little Sundress History

The sundress idea has been around at least since the Greeks and Romans were walking around in togas.

It’s unlikely, though, that the Greeks and Romans viewed their togas in the same light we see dresses today and, given all that fabric, they may not have been as easy to work with as the sundress. So maybe it would make more sense to look to the colorful shift dress introduced by Lilly Pulitzer in the 1960s for a better comparison.

Photo from PinkClouds.com.

Lilly’s original sundresses were patterned in bold colors and bright prints. To this day, her line is known for being vivid and colorful. From the get-go, her dresses were meant to provide cool comfort in warm temperatures and be easy to wear; the kind of thing you can throw on and go. She chose the patterns she did out of practicality — she sold juice made from citrus in her husband’s orange groves. The patterns on her dresses hid stains that are prone to juice entrepreneurs. As it turned out, people fell as much in love with her dress styles as they did her juice. When they started buying more dresses than juice, Lilly changed her focus to fashion design!

My Own History to the Sundress

Prior to this Fab Collab, I would never have been inspired to wear any of Lilly’s dresses. In my adult life, I had shed myself of all but a few dresses and the only ones I owned were meant for special occasions.

Growing up, I wore dresses to church and work. I suppose I associated them with obligation and discomfort. For those of you that were born prior to 1990, you may recall how fussy dresses were back then. A lot of them were itchy. And we always wore pantyhose with them, even in summer. Where I’m from in Texas, that meant it could be 102℉/39℃ with 90% humidity. I get sweaty just thinking about it.

The dress I wore in the photo below is one I bought to wear for an extra special occasion — my brother’s wedding. I actually liked it and have fond memories associated with it, but I never wore it casually. The material was soft and it made me feel elegant, like Meryl Streep in the movie Out of Africa. 

A sundress worn for special occasions.
Pardon the smudges on this photo. I’m not sure what that’s from.

I also remember wearing this dress to my first ever Stratford Festival in Ontario. Stratford and its theater festival are very special to me. I go for a week every year and, during that week, I lose myself in theater, only taking breaks to go eat at award-winning restaurants around town. That dress was perfect for the sticky Ontario summer and I wore it all over town to plays and nice restaurants. Today, though, I would probably wear it more casually.

Playing Catch-Up in a Lilly Sundress

As a grown woman choosing for myself what I want to wear and when I want to wear it, I’ve started to reclaim dresses as part of my signature style, especially casual dresses. Who knew how easy they are to style? (Okay. Everyone reading this probably knew that but I’ve been stuck in a misconception for the last 30 years, so gimme a minute to catch up.)

 Here’s my admission to you:
Lilly Pulitzer had a great concept when she developed her sundresses. Not only are they practical, they look good too!

Just look at the Lilly I’ve chosen to wear for this Fab Collab! I can now speak from experience about how comfortable and cool and easy sundresses are — especially when you lose the pantyhose! All I had to do to style this outfit was throw on a pair of metallic sandals and go.

Lilly Pulitzer sundress in navy blue with gold metallic flower detailing.
Never mind the pale legs! They’ve been hiding in trousers and jeans all my life!

And get this — it was only $35 on Thredup.com! You read that correctly. Thirty-five dollars.

You can buy a similar, brand-new Lilly Pulitzer dress at Nordstrom for $228:

Or you can go to Thredup.com and buy a new-to-you Lilly for under $100.

Depending on your budget and your preferences, both are good options. If you fall in love with the Nordstrom dress, click here to check it out online. If Thredup is your choice, this is the link for you.

But back to the dress I’m wearing.

It is lined and heavy cotton, and it is a little shorter than what I’m used to — but then, I’m not used to wearing dresses very often, so the whole experience is fairly new. I just have to watch how I sit and bend down to pick things up.

Lilly Pulitzer sundress in navy blue with gold metallic flower detailing.

What really spoke to me about this dress is the gold floral detailing on the hemline and around the neckline and keyhole on the front. Those details become the “third piece,” which adds to the “no-fuss factor.” I love no-fuss.

Lilly Pulitzer sundress in navy blue with gold metallic flower detailing.

The shoes are Clarks Ranae Estelle Dress sandals in gold. Metallic shoes go with so many different things and they elevate a look from “just casual” to “something special.” (Though, remember, this is still a casual look.)

The leather on the shoes is super soft. It doesn’t rub against my skin, even in the hottest of days. And the heel isn’t so high that they kill my feet after wearing them for extended periods of time. I will probably take this dress and these sandals to the Stratford Festival this year and walk all over town in them.


So, there you have it. Lesson learned. Thanks to this Fab Collab, I’ve learned just how silly I’ve been all these years to poo-poo casual dresses. Now I can start to reclaim them as part of my signature style — without the pressures of having to dress them up all the time. I have this blog and friends like Jodie to thank for encouraging me to try things out of my comfort zone.

As the weeks unfold and I start exploring trends from the 1930s, I might break out some extra special dresses too. I hope whatever becomes of this newfound love, you’ll join me on the journey and share your own experiences wearing dresses — casual and otherwise.

For what it’s worth, your comments and connections through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all provide encouragement to me. My fellow fashion bloggers are especially inspirational, so I’d like to call out a few of them here:

Jodie at JTouchofStyle.com

Deborah at Fabulous After 40

Jacynth and her Collection at The-Bias-Cut

Jacqueline at the Petite Silver Vixen

Samantha at Fake Fabulous

Laurie at Vanity and Me

Suzanne at SuzanneCarillo.com

If you haven’t checked out their blogs yet, please do. They each approach fashion from an over-40 perspective and they each have something unique to offer the rest of us.

Summer Playlist

Slip into a sundress, pour your favorite beverage, and hit ‘Play’ for a little summer playlist made just for you!

Affiliate link disclaimer: Please note, all of the items linked above are affiliated with companies I am associated with. By clicking the affiliated links and purchasing from those stores, I might receive a small commission. I do not place these links lightly — any company I represent is a company I buy from regularly, including ThredUP. By purchasing from these stores, you support the work I do here and I greatly appreciate your support! 

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