Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Striking Late Summer Sun Dresses

With some fall fashions already slipping onto store shelves, it's only a guess when anybody might wear them. This is why it's sometimes better to shoot for mid-season styles — something that can easily be worn now and into early fall.

There aren't too many options out there to fill this niche, except some rustic summer sundresses from Sundance. In fact, some are striking enough that they may be back ordered.

Much of the allure of these unique summer cuts is that they break away from body hugging designs and introduce more diversity into the wardrobe. But what caught my eye about these simple designs is that their presentation is more muted with a color palette that feels like autumn and can be easily carried into fall.

A few late summer dresses from Sundance. 

The hero shot above is the dress discovered around Los Angeles this summer that prompted the review. The Muir dress is a soft cotton sundress with tone-on-tone embroidery. It carries a feminine quality without looking fragile and easily conveys something more sensible like relaxed, rugged comfort.

The cut is also brought in at the waist, defining the bodice before billowing out over the hips with a modest pleated flair. While the pleats might restart the fit for women with slightly smaller hips or a proportioned middle given the cut, the idea is to look for something versatile. While the Muir might not be for everyone, there are several other dresses in the lineup that more than make up for it.

The Pinafore, for example, skips the slight snugness in the bodice in favor of a shirred front, which allows the material to land on the waist. Such cuts are usually a more comfortable fit for women who have a bigger bust or prefer to not draw as much attention to the middle.

The deep ivory color is also a plus. As an off-white, it comes across muted enough for fall but neutral enough to accessorize for other seasons. The back is smocked and the style keeps things simple.

The third design worth highlighting is called the Dancing Dots Dress, mostly because the pattern relies on contrasting white polka dots across the black cotton voile. At the same time, the polka dots are not overtly large, creating a much more textured look than a pattern.

Of the three, it also comes across as having the best chance to have an extended seasonal life, especially in regions with warmer winters. But another reason this dress stands out is its versatility.

While it was designed to be worn with a matching underdress, it is easy enough to imagine it with leggings or jeans (jeans probably being the better call). That gives the dress even more life when everything does cool down.

Like all three dresses, it works because it looks fun without drawing too much attention to itself or making the person wearing it look too frilly or fragile. The idea here is to not have people notice the dress as much as the person wearing it. That, and because most fashion trends become too similar off the rack, it's nice to see something different.

All three dresses land just above the knees. They are cotton, which requires hand washing but makes up for the additional care because it breathes in the summer. The only noted word of caution is that these dresses are said to run slightly larger than expected. So keep that in mind before placing an order.

Late Summer Dresses By Sundance Shine At 8.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Sometimes it's hard to believe that Sundance has been around since Robert Redford founded it in 1969. But since its earliest outing as a catalog in 1989, the store has managed to capture an American outdoor experience that often hits ahead of a trend while remaining timeless.

The late summer sundresses fall into this category, especially because they're adaptable enough to manage several different looks across several seasons and styles, whether rustic country or urban Mediterranean. You can find all three dresses shown here (and some more vibrant patterns) at Sundance Catalog. They range from about $120 to $150, usually sized from 2 to 16 (matched to their size guide).
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