Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Making Dresses Cute, Casual, and Kid-Friendly

I have two jersey maxi dresses to my name. A teal one that I snagged on sale from Express after coveting it for a few months, and a black maternity maxi that I bought because I needed a nice dress and I was about 7 months huge. All of my other dresses are sculptured on the bottom or delicate silk or business pencil-skirted or some form of satin. They most emphatically are NOT for the following activities:
-baby group
-walking to the playground
-grocery shopping
-days out in museums
-feeding my son his lunch

I'd like a dress that can handle all of those activities. You remember that sexist old Secret deodorant advert? Strong enough for a man; but made for a woman. I need a dress like that: tough enough for babies, but pretty enough for mummy.

With those criteria in mind, it is my hope and my desire to snag myself a dress that fits the bill. I'd like to wear more dresses, generally speaking. Of course, you didn't think I'd mention this all without any dresses in mind to show you, did you? Ah; you know me so well.

1)The Flynn Striped Day Dress from Anthropologie is pretty. The horizontal stripes are sort of a mom-chic staple, but to put them on a dress with a relaxed-fit, mid-length sleeve is nice. Yes, above-the-knee can be risky when you're running around a playground and picking toddlers up off the ground, but if you're really worried, you can pair it with some nice leggings to avoid any inappropriate thigh-flashing.

2) The Vineyard Sound dress from Shabby Apple is darling. A wrap dress is perfect if you're breastfeeding (two thumbs up for easy access), and it still looks like you've made an effort. Plus, the jersey should stay fairly wrinkle-free.

3) Shabby Apple's Highland Light dress is really fun. It has a more structured silhouette than the other dresses I've collected here, and that's what made it stand out to me. Plus, any dress with pockets is a mom's best friend. You can hide pacifiers, hold small bags of snacks, keep your phone, keys, or chapstick handy, and even have a tissue ready for any snotty little noses.

4) Sonnet James is my newest love: in the interests of spreading out big purchases, I'm angling for one of these as my birthday present. The Remi Dress is another great just-above-the-knee option. I also love the contrasted sleeves...a bit like a baseball tee.

5) Of all the Sonnet James dresses, the Stella Dress is my favourite. I just love the midi length, the empire waist, and the kelly-green-on-white colour scheme. Plus, all of Sonnet James dresses are made with mums in mind, so not only is this baby machine washable, but you can wear it pregnant as well!

6) The Doutzen Dress by Sonnet James comes a close second to the Stella for me. Again, the simple colour-blocking lets you play up whatever accessories or layers you want. Throw on an open button-down and tie it at the waist; break out a huge statement necklace; wear a wrapping shrug or jumper on top. Plus, that pink, vaguely petal-like shape is quite pleasing to the eye.

A few pointers when you're hunting down a casual, cute, and kid-friendly dress:
-never go too far above the knee since you're likely to be doing lots of bending over with little kids around. And, let's be honest, no matter what shape you're in...ain't nobody wanna see all dat. Trust me: you'll feel better if you know you're not giving off a flash of your knickers (or pasty, pale, possibly unshaven thighs) every time you pick up a crying toddler.
-jersey is your friend since it's generally difficult to wrinkle, so even if you're sleep-deprived and grabbing clothes in a haze from the floor of your closet, a jersey dress still has a chance of making you look like a competent adult.
-say it with me: flats and wedges, wedges and flats. In the autumn and winter, you could get away with having leggings or stockings with knee-high boots paired under some of these dresses, but for spring and summer being out and about, flats & wedges are your friends.
-watch out for that VPL! Some of these dresses look pretty unforgiving when it comes to VPL, so choose your lacy under-things with care.
-again in the fabric department: try to stick to things that let you machine wash. Even if you have to line dry or shape flat to dry, that's okay. If you're looking for a casual dress to wear with little kids, machine washable is a must. I'm sorry, but 'dry clean only' does not say 'casual' to me.
-keep an eye on that neckline. You don't want anything that's going to gap, plunge, or droop. It's hard to be relaxed at a play date or singing hour at the library if you're constantly tucking away bra straps or trying not to imitate Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl. That doesn't mean you have to feel like a school marm or an extra from Little House on the Prairie, but bras are underwear, not outerwear: make sure they don't peek out of your clothes.

Also: if you can splash some cash and are checking this from Stateside, I've recently come across Winter Water Factory. While the dresses are oddly styled in the photos on their site, they're all at-the-knee or just above and are made from 100% organic cotton. I don't fret over the organic too much, but being cotton means they're perfectly washable...and that's the ace in the hole with kid-friendly clothing.
via, Winter Water Factory

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