I've always thought that one of the most functional (and flattering) dresses ever designed has to be the 1950s shirtdress-- you know like the dress that June Cleaver used to wear in Leave it to Beaver. Sure Samantha Stevens' shift dresses were great, but you better have a pretty great body (good proportions such as average height, good size boobs, slender waist, flat tummy) to wear her dresses. If you're somewhat short with an ok body (at least on good days, on bad days, I wonder where my proportions came from), you'll have a devil of a time wearing modish shift dresses. I also have a sneaking suspicion that women of that era had amazing-- albeit probably uncomfortable-- undergarments that worked double duty to allow them to wear certain dresses (on the other hand, maybe they did all just have amazing bodies).
So back to my point about 1950s shirtdresses. Here's what I believe: the slim fitting tops on those dresses made anyone look thin. Meanwhile, the flared skirts hid wider hips and helped to make women look like they had teeny-tiny waists and small bottoms...(c'mon, let's be honest, who doesn't want a dress that gives you a teeny-tiny waist and hides your hips and the size of your bottom?) Well, I've been on the lookout for such a dress for ages...but a couple things kept me from my heart's desire: 1) shirtdresses weren't that trendy, 2) shirtdresses with flared skirts definitely were not trendy, and 3) vintage 1950s dresses were both expensive and often had unusual measurements.
But my search is finally over!!!! I ran across the Reed Shirtdress from Anthropologie while browsing for something or other and as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to have it. Here's a picture from Anthropologie's website:
It's definitely not cheap, but I haven't regretted it for a mili-second! It's every bit as flattering as I imagined. The material is nice, it's fully lined, and the skirt is long enough that I don't worry about looking indecent (but not so long that I feel dowdy). Anthro's version is also a bit updated for today-- there are pockets on the skirt and the flare is slight-- trust me, you won't feel like you're wearing a poodle skirt costume. The colors are bright and gorgeous-- I have the orange and I can't be happier with it (I have to admit that I prefer the solids much more than the pattered prints).
I should point out that lots of people noted that the sizes run a little small so you may want to order up-- or better yet, if there's an Anthropologie near you, run in (ask the sales associate for the dress by name-- I didn't see it on the floor anywhere at the store) and try on different sizes until you find the right one for you. To give you an idea, I usually wear a size 2 in most clothing, but the size 4 in this dress was a great fit and even size 6 was workable (just a little loose which might not be so bad). I highly recommend going into the store if that's something you can do-- I don't think the website does these colors justice; when I went into my local store, I realised just how bright the Kelly color really is and lucky for me, my store stocked a Navy color (which I totally fell in love with) that wasn't even available online. Trust me, this purchase is definitely one that won't come with buyer's regret!
Now for some shoes to go with it...and maybe a handbag, too... :)