with Susan Wagner
The Working Closet is your source for the best of what's hip and fresh in fashion and beauty. Susan Wagner keeps you up-to-date on trends and offers tips and tricks for making everything in your closet truly work for you.
You can also catch Susan over at Working Closet.
When you’re shopping on a budget (and who isn’t these days?) you want to get the most for your money, no matter what you’re buying. Dresses can seem like an extravagance, especially for busy moms — pants are so much more practical, right, especially when you’re trying to move between mom things and work things. But a dress can be equally practical — and fun and pretty — if you choose the right one.
This week, my friend Rita came home from Target with this incredibly cute dress.
We had a long discussion about why this dress was a good investment. It’s a classic shape and style, with just enough detail to make it appropriate for church or dinner out, but not so fancy that it couldn’t go to playgroup or the grocery. The color is stunning (my friend is a redhead, so it’s perfect for her) but it’s not too dramatic.
Looking for a little more drama? Target’s got you covered there, too.
I love the retro style of this dress — it’s a classic sheath, in a cool 70s inspired print. Even the color combination — lime green and navy — has a funky old school vibe to it. But this dress has a fuller skirt, which is more flattering than a slimmer sheath on those of us with hips, and is more wearable no matter what your shape.
Both dresses are a polyester/cotton/nylon blend; the tag says dry clean, but honestly, I would hand wash and line dry.
Rita, like so many women I know, is watching every penny she spends; she has two small children and a mortgage and there’s not a lot of room in her budget for a new dress. But she’s also in that funny window after the baby where most of what’s in her closet either doesn’t fit or isn’t appropriate. The green dress is perfect for her because it is both affordable and flexible; she can wear it now with a cardigan and later with flip flops, she can change the belt for a new look, she can dress it up or dress it down. The bright color makes it cheerful and fun, so even if she’s wearing this dress a lot, it’s not boring.
The patterned dress is also incredibly flexible, even though it’s a little more of a statement piece on its own. But again, you can change out the accessories to keep the look new and fun, and who wouldn’t like to bust out a big pattern on a slow day?
When you’re buying a dress, look for one that fits well and flatters your figure; look for easy-care fabrics (cottons or cotton blends) and structured, classic shapes. Look for a dress you can accessorize, for more than one look. And look at places like Target and Old Navy, where you won’t spend a fortune.
What’s your favorite go-to for affordable dresses?
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