February 17, 2014

The Dress You Will Actually Wear This Summer (For ALL Moms – pregnant, post-partum, nursing, and the rest of us)

I need to start keeping a list of Stupid Summer Purchases.  I have a ton.  They are stupid not because they don't fit, or because I tried to venture out of my style comfort zone, or anything I can even put my finger on….they are stupid purchases only because come summer, the sum total of what I wear is this:  cut-offs, white tee, flat sandals…or a summer dress. 

Of all of these, I often fail with summer dress purchases.  I buy beautiful silky maxis (NOPE), eyelet mini dresses (NOPE), strapless anything (NOPENOPENOPE).  GAH!  I mean OK – they get worn, sometimes, but not nearly as much as my old soft jersey swing dress, which is nothing more than a glorified t-shirt/tank dress.  And???  It's at least eight years old.  EIGHT.

The good news is that there are a ton of soft jersey dresses out there….with a twist.  Some have interesting necklines (thankfully not strapless which Pax cannot resist pulling down)…some have cool cut-outs, or fancy details or strategic ruching which makes the dress both insanely sexy and easy to wear at the same time.

I've rounded up my favorites, sorted by body types.  All of these dresses are soft and comfortable – anything from scratchy polyester didn't make the cut (no matter how pretty).  And nursing mamas?  There are dresses for you sprinkled throughout.  Look for this nursing symbol:

Vectorstock_1522204

 

 

 Lastly, some of the dresses below are from Piperlime, and are 25% off until 2/18 with code HAPPY.

 

Pregnant, Post-Partum and Otherwise Poochy

Postpartum

TOP ROW

1. Glamorous Knit Shift Dress, $59

Swingy enough for a very poochy stomach, would also be adorbs on a pregnant mama.  

2. Michael Kors Romper, $128

So perfect for the playground, and 100% cotton.  Wear over a bright bra, and let the straps peek out. 

3. Monrow Sleeveless Shirred Dress, $115

This is probably the closest I could get to the bodycon trend.  The goal here is to get the ruching/blousing to hide the stomach pooch.  (Perfect for first-trimester mamas!)

4. LA MADE St. Tropaz Dress, $99

I didn't put the nursing symbol on this dress because the chest hits too high on the model, but if I were having a baby this spring/summer…I'd try this dress.  Amazing pooch-hiding, and I'll bet you could pull down the front of the dress to nurse (maybe try buying a size up?).

5. Three Dots Fishtail Stretch Knit Dress, $138

A gorgeous low back takes this unassuming dress in a sexy direction.  Wear a pretty bra.

 

BOTTOM ROW

6. Ella Moss Sam Stripe Maxi, $198

Too many maxis rely on empire-waists, which put a post-partum pooch on full display.  I like how this dress uses extra fabric and clever contrast stripes to camouflage. 

7. Colette Scoop Neck Maxi, $89

A slight trapeze shape will hide a small pooch.  Head-to-toe navy is surprisingly glamorous, even in a ho-hum shape.

8. Riller and Fount Caftan Maxi Dress, $198

This is such a great update for a new mama, or (like me) just a poochy one. So sophisticated and cool!  Yet forgiving

9. Lanston Racerback Maxi, $139

Ok – this made the cut because tall reviewers were happy with the fit. Why do we care?  Because there should be enough fabric above the waistband to hide a poochy stomach.  (This dress obviously won't work for the very pregnant.)

10. Hive and Honey Banded Knit Maxi Dress, $89

Ah, the ruched banded waist – so kind on a pooch.  And I love this mushroom color.  Picture it with flat gold sandals and gold cuff bracelet.

 

Calling All Curvy Mamas

Curvy2

 

11.   Three Dots Isabel Rib Ruched Cut-Out Dress, $132

This fabric is not to be believed – it's light, comfy, and feels expensive.  I didn't have enough hips to keep this dress (the ruched part hit well below my stomach pooch) but on someone with curves?  Oh, Mama.

12. Tibi Spring Tweed Dress, $298

I know – it's so expensive.  But fabulous, nonetheless, and could be a go-to for years to come.

13.  Old Navy Fit and Flare Jersey Dress, $30

Fit-and-Flare dresses are so cute on curvy mamas.

14. Skies are Blue Stripe Ponte Dress, $64

It looks exactly like the Old Navy dress, but this is ponte, which will be much thicker.  Ponte helps to keep everything held in….while still allowing for movement.  One of my favorite fabrics.

15. Splendid T-Shirt Maxi Dress With Slit, $128

Soooooooo sexy.  SOOOOOOOOO SEXY.  Especially on a mama with some curves.  

16. Monrow Shirred Tee Dress, $117

And there we have the hottest t-shirt dress ever made.  Yowza.

17.  Hive and Honey Mixed Stripe Dress, $69

I like how the top of this fun, bright dress would balance out a small waist and curvy hips. 

18. Bailey 44 Marilyn Dress, $168

A bombshell shape in an everyday fabric.  LOVE.

 

And the Rest….

These banded-waist dresses are so hit-or-miss.  Some can work for post-partum, but….it depends.  Some can work for curves, but….yup – it depends.  Here are four that may be worth a try.

Therest

19. Sabine Knotted Grecian Knit Maxi, $69

I love the greek goddess vibe here.

20. ASOS Bodycon T-Shirt Dress, $55

So freaking cool.

21. Colette One-Shoulder Maxi, $89

I love a black-tie-inspired dress rendered in such a casual fabric.

22. Free People Andrina Dress, $98

I suspect this is for the tall and skinny, but oh how I love this dress. 

 

Happy shopping!

xo,

S

 

 

 

31 Comments
  • Miranda
    February 17, 2014

    Cute stuff! Any recommendations for straight figures?

  • abi
    February 17, 2014

    love the idea of dresses in summer, but I struggle with the underwear issue. I am in the curvy and poochy category so the fabric hugs the bum and I always have pantyline, even with a thong. any other tips for that?

  • Rebecca R.
    February 17, 2014

    How would you recommend styling for the summer? My son is at the stage where he’s exploring everything with his mouth :), so I have a hard time with accessories. I’ve been trying to make things interesting with a light patterned scarf, but that doesn’t always work in the humid, tropical climate I live. Sigh, I know you miss warm weather but cold weather fashion just seems so much COOLER!

  • Maggie
    February 17, 2014

    Joining you in the curvy category. My $.02? Dress fabric matters and get some seamless girl shorts. Try a few pair bc the rise has to suit the pooch you’re working (I’ve had pregnant, newborn and infant/toddler bodies for about as many summers as I can remember!) but the seamless leg opening is the key for me.
    Great picks, S! I’m a maxi queen (ordered #10 last week actually!) but that Monrow dress….swoon! !!

  • sarah goodman
    February 17, 2014

    #8 on the very top. NEED NEED NEED!!!

  • sarah goodman
    February 17, 2014

    ohh i agree with the lady below me! my son is 6 months so I’m still carrying him quite a bit though he is crawling, but necklaces and long earrings are so hard to wear these days! and i hate bracelets more often than not. i have such tiny wrists and they always seem to clonk my son or something else. what do you do?!

  • Clever Girl Reviews
    February 18, 2014

    I really like 12, 19, and 22! I almost bought 19 a few weeks ago!

  • Beth
    February 18, 2014

    Maggie- how do you like the dress? I am debating between that one, and #8- oh and #15, #16, and #20. Love dresses in the summer!

  • Amber
    February 18, 2014

    I love #8 but can’t imagine where I would wear it where I wouldn’t feel ludicrously overdressed/like I was trying too hard. Clearly we are in need of a date night. Hmm.
    May order #2 but just noticed that it’s available on Amazon in yellow for $35. Thoughts anyone? I am a yellow person, but maybe this is just too girlish?
    http://www.amazon.com/Michael-Stars-Womens-Jersey-Romper/dp/B00CP2EC3W
    I am on the hunt for a perfect dress with POCKETS. Thinking of this Boden Weekend Dress in the gray print, but fear it might be frumpy IRL:
    http://www.bodenusa.com/en-US/Womens-Dresses/Day/WH613/Womens-Casual-Weekend-Dress.html

  • Amber
    February 18, 2014

    hmm, coming back to add that I am nixing the yellow romper purely because of the STAIN issue. I want to be able to sit on the grass without fear. Although actually this may be too short to do that anyway.
    Also wanted to add that I’m hoping to find a *nursing-friendly*dress with pockets. Thus I am encouraged by the complaints that the Boden dress neckline is too low. If anyone has links to other options please share!

  • Amber
    February 18, 2014

    Sarah, can you do chunky nursing necklaces? Like Chewbeads or some of the fabric ones on etsy? And for bracelet, some kind of leather cuff or something else that’s adjustable and not painful if you bonk the baby with it? I don’t have a solution for the earrings–it’s been so since I’ve worn them that my holes are closing up. And I kind of don’t care :)

  • Jesse
    February 18, 2014

    I have #22, the Free People dress. They sold it last year in grey. I am thin, but definitely not tall. It fits great and I got a ton of use out of it.

  • Jessica
    February 18, 2014

    So, I absolutely love reading your blog and I have to say, it has helped me to feel SO much more confident and adventurous in my dressing. Post baby with my son, and now pregnant with a daughter! I have been terrified of the thought of leaving the house this summer with a brand new postpartum body (due 6/9), but this was perfect. I just bought the Monrow Short dress and the Hive and Honey. The reason I’m writing is that the HAPPY code was NOT working for me, in any browser, so I called and they honored it! HAPPY SHOPPING!

  • Lynn
    February 18, 2014

    I love stripes for summer! One question: What do you think about petites wearing maxi dresses? I am fairly short and I always feel overwhelmed by so much fabric. Any tips?

  • Kate L.
    February 18, 2014

    I wasn’t able to use the HAPPY code either, but I had a different Piperlime code, so I just used that. Glad it wasn’t just me, and glad you called!
    I got the Monrow dress as well (and almost bought the Hive and Honey – high five for good taste!) – I’ll be about two months post-partum by the time it ships, so fingers crossed!

  • Shana
    February 18, 2014

    You bet: 1. Make sure it fits (you’ll probably need to hem it) 2. Pick one that skims over your curves rather than one that’s really voluminous. (Or try one of the ones with a banded waist – they can sometimes help to rein in fabric) 3. Show a little skin up top. Bare shoulders, a little cleavage – it draws the eye up, and if the skirt isn’t too overwhelming, you should be good to go! 4. Avoid patterns.
    Your best bets are probably #19, #21 and #7. xoxo

  • Shana
    February 18, 2014

    Thanks for the feedback, Jesse!

  • Shana
    February 18, 2014

    The Boden dress is 50% modal, so….maybe? I wish Boden had free shipping /free return shipping.
    For whatever it’s worth, I’d wear #8 to the grocery store. :) But in all honesty, I think it’s pretty casual (although easily dressed up). You could wear it with flip flops to the beach.
    The yellow romper is also adorbs….but I hear you on the stain issue…hmmmm

  • Shana
    February 18, 2014

    It totally IS. I agree. In the summer, I pretty much rely on “interesting” basics – good bags, shoes, and uh….ok that may be it. Wait! Sunglasses! Those too. I also bought this cuff on Etsy – it’s nice and soft: https://www.etsy.com/transaction/151779784?ref=fb2_tnx_title

  • Shana
    February 18, 2014

    See my response to Rebecca, below. xo

  • Shana
    February 18, 2014

    You bet: #6, #12, #13, #14, and any from the last collage: #19-#22
    Good luck!

  • Shana
    February 18, 2014

    Abi, have you tried these? My new favs – they are surprisingly sexy and comfortable, and seem to do better than most in terms of VPL: http://rstyle.me/n/fksy5pxu6

  • Beth
    February 18, 2014

    Shana- how do these do in terms of having the dress glide over your ahem ass-ets? I find that often the thongs are good in terms of VPL but then the dress gets all stuck- NOT a good look!

  • Vera
    February 18, 2014

    Why all the dresses banded at the waist right now?! For a mama with serious belly pouch, it makes me want to cry whenever I’m shopping – I’m ready for this fad to pass! ASAP!

  • Maggie
    February 24, 2014

    Beth, I hadn’t received it when I posted but now I’ve sent it back. With a larger (D) chest, long torso, small pooch and curvy hips the band just…wasn’t in the right spot? It took 5 minutes of fussing to get it sort of right and what are the odds of it staying there with three kids four and under? So back it went. Which just justifies #16 when it’s available. :)

  • Beth
    February 24, 2014

    Thanks for the feedback Maggie- that is sort of what I thought might happen…I am small chested, with a long torso and a small pooch…think I am going to try #8! Maybe, maybe if I can only justify the CPW!

  • Kelley
    February 24, 2014

    I’d love more summer heat friendly / nursing friendly suggestions with wide straps – to hide the bra straps. Most nursing bras for those of us that were busty before we got knocked up are FUGLY. You don’t find the cute straps that can peek out on the 38 I/J bras. At least not on affordable bras. I need something I can nurse in, play in, and wear when it’s 112,

  • Laura
    March 2, 2014

    I tried the Boden dress and yeah, frumpy IRL, at least on me.
    http://thisfelicitouslife.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/boden-spring-2014-review/

  • Maggie
    April 9, 2014

    Had to dig up this post and report back in case it helps one of my fellow curvy mamas. After a parade of order/return fun I’ve found my winner at…Victoria’s Secret?!? Yep. Straps wide enough for a big-girl bra, a neckline that’s definitely nursing-friendly, ruching that requires no fiddling and a fit that is just so flattering on a curvy body/booty. I will say it is LONG – I kept the short at 5ft 7 for wearing with flat sandals. http://www.victoriassecret.com/clothing/maxi-dress-a/ruched-maxi-dress?ProductID=108684&CatalogueType=OLS

  • Krista
    April 15, 2014

    I love jersey dresses but they always get pilly even after only a few washes. Any laundering recommendations?

  • Suzie
    May 20, 2014

    This dresses are amazing!

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