I am well aware of the fact that I don't really need any more smart dressy dresses right now. The sad fact is that, currently, I just don't have any reason to wear even most of the ones I already own. When that's the case, there's really no conceivable excuse to buy more. Cocktail dresses and fancy gowns aren't exactly a 'stock up for a rainy day' sort of item. Schade.
That said, if I needed another nice dress (or could afford one), the look I'd go for is something drapey, wrappy, or ruched. Something that hugs curves and makes you look so good that you feel even better. A magic dress.
Now, a sad fact of life is that you really can't get away with this sort of dress if you've just had a baby. I know. I've tried. It didn't end well. (Er, technically it ended in my lovely purple Oasis dress, so it DID end well, but you get my point.) And even on my good days, a dress like this would certainly get more mileage out of my Spanx. Hey, a little help in the smoothing department never hurt anyone.
That said, I don't think you have to be super svelte to get away with drapey wrappy jersey fabric all above the knee. What you DO have to do is:
1) create a good base layer with your favourite brand of smoothing undergarments
2) pick a cut and style of draping that accents all the right parts (and masks anything you're self-conscious about), and
3) rock that baby like a boss.
Wondering what sort of dresses I mean? Here are a few ideas to start off with:
1) This cobalt dress from Notte by Marchesa is gorgeous. If you're on the thinner side, or won't suffer for not accentuating your waist (like if you have an athletic figure rather than an hourglass), this sort of silhouette could be your jam.
2) The Alice & Olivia drape is great. With the high neckline and the simple colour (I'm a sucker for an LBD), this lets the draping do all the work. Like those leopard print Steve Maddens: pick one thing and do it well.
3) The Carven mini stretch is fun. It has less cinching and ruching than the other Carven dress two spots down, so that helps it create fewer problem areas. I also really dig the asymmetrical neckline and the 3/4 sleeves. Like a boss.
4) The aubergine colour of this Cut 25 dress from Oxygen Boutique is to die for. Plus: how fun is it to see a cocktail dress with long sleeves for the colder weather!? My arms are puny and will always get cold long before my legs do. I would lurve this dress and wear it to death if it lived in my closet. I'd wear it just to do some grocery shopping I'd love it so much.
5) I coveted the Carven twisted jersey dress even since I first laid eyes on it on the Herrod's website. With the right under-layer, I would own that dress. I would invent excuses to wear it.
6) MICHAEL by Michael Kors has some cute pieces. This ruched jersey dress is no exception. I love the colour, I love the small pop of bling on the left shoulder to compliment the structural pleats on the right shoulder. And I love a high neckline with chunky, wide-set straps. Though, be warned: these totally horizontal folds will emphasize any muffin top or pooch you've got going on, so this one is a bit more of a skinny Minnie dress.
7) Oasis's Petra dress still counts as a wrappy drapey dress for me. And if you're especially worried about horizontal pleats and folds making your butt look huge or your tummy stand out, this lets you get the benefits of some fun structural detail while still providing a more universally flattering A-line silhouette.
8) I wish this Alice + Olivia Kenzie dress was still around. You get the bandage ruching on the bottom and a nice blousey flow on top. What's not to love? I mean, unless you
So there you have it: my take on wrapping, draping, ruching, pleating, and looking fabulous. And if you're currently deficient in the Not-quite-Bridget-Jones-smoothing-knickers department? Have no fear. Here are a few good options I've seen:
Yummie Tummie Minnie Slip (If you've got some cash to spare, this is an option)
Spanx High Power Shorts (If the anonymous testimonials don't sway you, I'll say myself: I bought them for my wedding and they did the job marvelously. Also, in the first days after having E when my tummy was at its wobbliest, putting my Spanx on made it possible for me to walk around without feeling hobbled. Love.Love.Love.)
Spanx Simplicity Open Bust Slim Suit (If you need or prefer something with a shoulder strap to hold it in place more reliably, this is the way to go. Ladies: there's a reason Spanx is the biggest name that comes to people's minds when you talk about shapewear.)
John Lewis Medium Control High Waist Shorts (At £18, less pricey, and apparently does the job. Occasionally rolls up in the leg, according to reviews.)
John Lewis Control High Waist Briefs (Mostly smooths rather than holding in your wobbly bits, but again has mostly stellar reviews.)
Ultimate Magic Secret Support, Marks & Spencer (Sure, they're overselling it on the name, but these look like they get the job done nicely as well. And M&S are middle-of-the-range for price if you don't want to splash out for Spanx.)