It was a warm February day in Arizona when vintage super maven, Suzanne Carillo, and I got ready to go meet up with newfound blogger friends at a restaurant. She put on a dress, while I chose jeans and a forgettable top. In the last seconds before walking out the door, I mentioned how nice she looked.
“It’s one of my Karina dresses,” she said. “I don’t travel without them.”
Between the two of us, I suspected she was more comfortable. Her dress draped easily with stretch for movement. Plus, the heat gets to me now like it never used to and her dress just seemed like it would be cooler. She also looked more grown-up and more put-together than I felt in my denim uniform.
“I don’t wear dresses, much,” I said without thinking. “I just feel safer with something on my legs.”
From the look on Suzanne’s face, this choice of words struck her as odd. She was too nice to say anything then but looking back on the conversation, it struck me as odd, too. Had she asked me more, I wouldn’t have been able to explain it, but I’ve come to learn that “safer” was a good word to describe why I didn’t gravitate to dresses outside of special occasions*.
In my mind, I was:
- Safer from the wind blowing up and exposing what was underneath.
- Safer from the men I had always been warned about.
- Safer from my own fear of showing my pearly white legs.
- Safer from jabs of others making fun of my pearly white legs.
*Note: My brain worked around this issue for special occasions because I covered my legs with pantyhose. This took care of the pearly white issue and gave me a sense of security under my dress.
Suzanne’s ability to walk around the earth in a dress without all those fears coming true made me examine whether it was worthwhile to cling to my old notions about these things. Those ideas came from a time and a place I no longer lived. Maybe it was time to toss them into the same bin I’d tossed other outdated ideas.
From that point forward I started making a plan that would put those ideas to the test. From May 1st to May 31st, I wore a dress a day, even on rainy days and days I had no appointments to go to outside of my condo. The only exception was when I worked out.
The results of my experiment will be unveiled over the next several weeks in posts to come. I admit that it was more difficult than I expected. For starters, early May in Seattle is not often “bare legs” weather, so I made some exceptions about going sans tights during this time. Once I got into the groove—and as the weather warmed up—I started to learn quite a bit about myself, my old ideas, and whether those ideas still served me well.
A very good dress to start.
Let’s start with a dress that made the transition easier: a Steven Alan dress I bought with credit on TheRealReal.com. It has the look of a shirt dress because it buttons down to the waist and has a fold-over collar. The black and gray gingham suits gray and rainy pre-summer days here in Seattle, as do the long sleeves that I roll up on warmer days.
I like this dress because of the style, but also because I can layer it with tops underneath, as well as tights or even (gasp!) skinny jeans on cooler days.
Speaking of tights–these locally made, super cool ombre tights by BZR make everything feel a little more dynamic. The black-to-gray version was featured in my speakeasy style post last week. The ones I wore with this dress are called “denim” because they go from denim blue to faint lilac.
Did you think I’d be able to give up my denim habit completely?
The loafers are Halogen brand in “Emily” style. I got them last fall during a sale at Nordstrom. They’re on clearance now and there is a perforated version that might be even better for summer. They’re on sale as well.
The “denim colored” vintage beads are from VintageStarrBeads on Etsy. The store owner is a hoot to deal with. She also has a wide selection of vintage jewelry.
The obi belt is also somewhat vintage. I bought it new from Eileen Fisher a long, long time ago–too many years to remember. I like how it cinches this dress “just so” because, without it, the little pleats at the waist can make me feel self-conscious around the belly.
Put on your sunglasses. Things are about to get very bright.
And now, what you’ve all been waiting for, the dress worn on a warm, sunny day, without tights or undershirt. Pardon the wrinkles on the dress and my pearly white legs underneath it.
A little voice in my head is screaming, “ACK!”
I even took off the obi belt because, when it’s hot outside the the last thing anyone needs is a leather casing about the waist.
“Can’t Touch This”
Over the course of May the weather warmed up and I ventured out in this dress without tights or other layers. It wasn’t until then that I really understood the value of this style–the wind couldn’t touch it. Like most cities, Seattle can be super windy. The slightest breeze off the water can turn into a full-scale skirt-floofer by the time it reaches my neighborhood a few blocks up. I never had to worry about that with this dress and, as I discovered later on, that is something to be very thankful for.
The impact of this one small shift in my life has been surprising. It changed my perspective in ways I never would have imagined prior to starting out. I hope you’ll join me as I continue my quest with The Dress!
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