I had mentioned in a recent post how much I have grown to like dresses, particularly strapless jersey varieties. So it should come as no surprise that, upon missing the last several 20 and 30 percent off J.Crew sales, I finally bit the bullet and placed an order during the most recent one, which naturally included another few dresses. I figured, at 30 percent off sale prices, what do I have to lose?
Among the immediate-to-return batch were two Cotton Cady Madeleine Dresses, a cut most unsuited to my body type. I had been hoping to grab one or two more Alexa dresses since catching the first in spring (navy, which I wear constantly), a shape extremely flattering to my hourglass figure. But alas, every time I put one in my cart, it disappeared before I could place the order.
Fortunately, I was able to pounce on the long-watched but never tried Cascade Ruffle Dress which had intrigued me since its debut. It just looked so perfectly slouched in the right places. Not someone normally drawn to slouchy styles, I was enticed by the casual, carefree drape and the muted gray color – a boon for my skin tone.
So, I said, what the heck, it’s only $34.99. Even if it’s not my favorite, I can at least wear it around the house. And so it arrived 2 days later and I shoved it to the corner of the try-on pile underneath a mountain of potential suits and skirts I had hoped would replenish my lately ill-fitting work wardrobe. I had initially tried it on and found the bust to be overwhelmingly tight, with barely enough room to breath – even sans bra. Yet the bodice flowed rather loosely around my hips and body. There was almost a little gap between where it should have hit my bum and where it actually did, leaving a tiny poof. Not so loose that it looked like a sack, but any looser and it might have made me look too voluminous behind.
What to do? This was far from the first strapless dress J.Crew has managed to miss the mark with fit-wise. I mean, what is up with leaving absolutely no room in the bust to breathe, yet leaving entirely too much room in the backside? Who has this body type, exactly? I considered ordering a size up, but then I wondered if the backside would be too loose. Undecided, I slipped it off and left it in a little wrinkled ball, its fate to be determined some other time.
Fast forward 24 hours. Oversleeping this Saturday morning, I was roused no less than 7 times by the cat to find that my husband had already left the house. Unusual as this as, I thought perhaps he had run to the store or, worse, to the historical tour we had bought tickets for the day before that started in about an hour. Jumping into the shower and racing through my grooming rituals, I rushed to find a suitable outfit for the day’s activities: we were scheduled to go on an exclusive tour of some of the hidden spots of George Washington’s vast Mount Vernon Estate, a swell idea that now looked to be in jeopardy if we didn’t leave the house pronto. My husband came back to find me rummaging through the clean pile of clothes on the bed but nothing was jumping out.
The weather had recently taken a most pleasant and unexpected turn for the better; instead of sultry 95-100 degree days with maximum humidity and poor air quality, here we were in the second day of a mild 80-85 degree interlude with low humidity and a nice breeze. Which put me in a dilemma – should I opt for the de rigeur cuffed shorts and tee with sneakers and look like a tourist, or should I represent more graciously in a skirt and blouse? It wasn’t so hot that you could get away with a skimpy tank or tube top, yet I didn’t want to wear too much as there was lots of walking involved across the expansive estate. There was the other slight dilemma of how to hide the fact that I didn’t quite have time to shave my legs…
Since it was sitting there all curled up on the bed, innocuous in its soft gray 100% rayon, I decided to slip on the Cascade Ruffle Dress just to see. To my surprise, it seemed like the perfect outfit to wear on an outdoor tour – I could wear it with espadrilles for comfort and dress it up later with a necklace and cardigan for propriety.
The bust was another issue. Trying to zip it in the back proved somewhat tricky as it kept unzipping itself. My husband finally tightened the top clasp which ended that problem. However, as I coaxed my hair into an unbrushed ponytail and swiped nothing by colored gloss on my makeup-free face (we were now dangerously late), I struggled to inhale the entire ride down to Mount Vernon (which normally takes 20-25 minutes from our house but we managed to fly there in exactly 15 minutes by breaking as many traffic rules as possible).
First of all, there is no room whatsoever for a strapless bra, so don’t even consider it (unless you have a small B or A cup and can sacrifice breathing). But whilst reclining in the drivers seat doing maximum speed on the G.W. Parkway, there is a noticeable lack of flexibility in the upper torso that feels deceptively structured for a jersey dress.
On the other hand, as soon as we arrived and started running the remaining half mile or so to the meeting place, I noticed just how lightweight and breezy the rest of the bodice was. Which was reinforced every time we struggled up one of the many hills or strolled through the various agricultural sections of the estate in the hot afternoon sun. Every time the breeze came around, the dress fluttered ever so gently. The material is very thin, yet the cleverly placed folds hide not only a panty line (because I also didn’t have time to look for a thong) but also deflect attention from a full tummy post-lunch (apres 3 courses).
The verdict? You decide. Here it is IRL.
And with DH:
Here it is as I prepare to enjoy a late lunch:
One nice surprise is that the bust did stretch somewhat. Since the material is thin, perhaps it does adjust to your body somewhat. After we finished our tour and delicious southern-themed lunch at the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant, we made a detour for our favorite pastry shop where we stopped for coffee and sweets. Even now as I write this, digesting the 3-course lunch and beverages, I am surprisingly comfortable in the breathing and stomach area.
Here is the Polyvore set:
My vote? I give this dress a thumbs-up for ease of movement, versatility, and drape. If you can stretch out the bust area in advance, you might be more comfortable. For $34.99, it’s a must-buy!