This should come as no surprise for long-term, or short-term, or really any kind of BCRL readers: clothes shopping is one of my hobbies. So I end up shopping for all the reasons people tell you not to shop: because I’m bored, or happy, or sad, or stressed out – especially the latter, especially lately. And so it happened that I found myself wandering the aisles of the downtown Winners on a Thursday afternoon, looking to shop off some stress.

Now, my hometown ladies know that the downtown Winners is not the best Winners in town by far (that would be the Gateway Boulevard location) or even the second best (that would be the Mayfield Common location), but it’s the best that the downtown core has to offer in terms of decent clearance rack hunting, and sometimes a girl just wants to find a bargain, you know? On this particular occasion, bargains were not to be had (I think Winners had its big end-of-season sale at the end of January, and there are very few stragglers left now), but I did spot some promising prospects on the dresses rack. Seeing as I was all by myself, and therefore accountable for no one else’s attention spans or hunger levels, I decided to head over to the changing rooms and try everything. Oh, the excitement!

And then, of course, share all my thoughts (and pictures) on Instagram because I need opinions, people!

In fact, I need your opinion as well. So let’s do this.

I tried on 6 dresses – none of which I needed to buy, some of which were definitely tempting. Here they all are … see if you can guess which were my favourites:

changing room diaries
Top row (l to r): Kate Spade; Ivanka Trump; RACHEL Rachel Roy
Bottom row (l to r): Kate Spade; Kate Spade Saturday; Beige by eci

Ok, ready to proceed?

My picks were a bit of a study in contrasts. I loved the architectural flair, and simplicity, of the grey RACHEL Rachel Roy dress, even though I was not entirely sold on the quality. Its main flaw, however, was the length – simply too short for work. Of course, the grandma florals-loving side of me (which might be quiet these days, but certainly not gone) adored the floral Beige by eci number. The fabric and print reminded me of the Clover Canyon dresses I had recently seen at Holt’s, though perhaps a touch more sedate. The silhouette was very Dolce & Gabbana, with the just-below-the-knee hemline, and general slinkiness. But it was a bit … loud. And a bit too bombshell-y for my everyday life.

Both dresses had appeal, and both had drawbacks. Indecisive as always, I ran back to my Insta peeps to ask for help deciding: should I buy? And if so, which one?

changing room diaries
a study in contrasts

The vote was split pretty evenly between the two dresses, with some enablers fellow indecisives suggesting both. (For the record, both Luka and my husband preferred the grey dress. This was oddly disconcerting to me, but I guess it’s a flash forward to all the future times those two will be ganging up on me.) So, tell me, which would have been your pick?

Floral or Minimalist?

Want to know which one I picked? Read on.

I did … not … buy the grey dress for two reasons. One, the too-short hemline. I actually went back and tried a larger size but, sadly, it made no appreciable difference, length-wise, and it was too large elsewhere. Two, the ruffle detail, while gorgeous when the dress is worn on its own, gets lost if you wear any sort of topper. The dress just ends up looking really plain and boring, and even a tad shapeless. This ruled it out for work purposes. As for special occasions, I felt that the dress was a little too dressy for my needs; most of my “special occasions” involve a semi-casual date with my husband, or a visit with friends. This dress begs for a nice cocktail party, and that is a rare occurrence in my life. Plus, I already have two light grey “special occasions” dresses (that are rarely worn), and I didn’t think that this one – lovely as it is – was worth adding to that list.

So, the floral dress. I loved so many things about it, not least of all the fact that it was really figure flattering. Had the floral print been even slightly less loud, I would have found a way to de-sexify it for the office. It would certainly be the kind of dress I could probably find occasion to wear in my off-hours … but not often enough to justify buying it, sadly. Even for $40.

So – surprise! – the answer is “neither”. I know, that was a trick question.

[Although I maaaaay periodically check in at Winners to see if the floral number goes on sale … so, to be continued, I guess …]



21 Comments on Changing Room Diaries: A Tale of Six Dresses

  1. Well. I can’t believe you didn’t buy the floral dress! I just love it on you. But what about the black/white Kate Spade? (bottom left) I feel like that would have been a very versatile office dress, or do you have too much black/white already?

    • I thought it was very cute – and I can never have enough black and white, LOL! – but it was too short and too expensive 🙁

  2. Both the gray dress and the floral dress are lovely. Your reasoning for not buying them make sense.

    I personally would be tempted to think that the floral dress might work at the office (but I don’t think I’m really able to tell when something is too colorful or too loud for work).

    • As I mentioned in another comment, it’s very much office-dependent. I don’t think the floral dress would be “too much” in some offices -it has a conservative neckline and hemline, which are both important considerations.

      Funnily enough, I was at the hospital a couple of weeks ago, and one of the specialists on call was wearing a Clover Canyon dress (which I had admired at Holt’s and deemed “too much” for my office) with a blazer. So it really does depend!

  3. In agreement with above poster-the floral dress is perfection on you and it does not ready sexy in the picture so maybe it’s in the fit. Can you wear with a structured blazer to make office appropriate? And the Kate Spade black and white? Usually there is a 2 inch or so hem allowance to let down- it is a perfect fit on you as well.

    • I think I could have def “dressed up” the floral dress, but the print still felt a little too loud for my office. Totally a personal preference, and I could see someone in a more creative/less conservative work environment rocking it.

      The Kate Spade dress was adorable, and I loved the colour-blocking, but apart from the length issue, it was also expensive ($130) – too expensive for what it is (fabric and overall construction/quality), in my opinion. Again, total YMMV territory.

  4. Sometimes the best choice is neither. Also, what’s up with “dressy” items that are too short for work? Likewise “work shirts” that are cut too low for work. Sure it works on TV, but in real life we need longer hemlines and decent necklines.

    That being said, I like the two Kate Spade Dresses – top and bottom left. Maybe I should make a trip to Winners in the near future.

    • The top Kate Spade dress was too twee for me, although the silhouette was very pretty. The other KS was too short 🙁 Also, they were not cheap – like $130-not cheap. Not worth it for me personally, but YMMV.

  5. Oh, I love the floral on you… (and in general), it’s so pretty! I also really like the top Kate Spade, though probably not for work. Is it bad I want to urge you to go back and get the floral dress so I can live vicariously when you wear it? Kate Spade doesn’t design to accommodate my curves, so it’s not in my future… LOL

    • Hahaha! It seems that a few people had the same reaction to the floral dress. I actually did go back and try it on again, and wavered a lot, but in the end, it just didn’t seem like a good idea considering how many dresses I already have at home. But, like I said, that dress and I may meet again 😉

  6. The grey dress!! It is so lovely on you. Good reasons not to buy it though, but still, a shopping tragedy that it didn’t find its way to your wardrobe.

    • I know … it was hard to walk away from it, but I think it’s for the best in this case. Could still be a great dress for someone else (either someone a stitch shorter than me, or someone with a more exciting life, LOL!)

  7. Like everyone else, I agree, both look great, but the floral one is va va va voom! Not to be an enabler, but kohls has one by Eco, same shape, in a black and white print….

    • Bah, we don’t have Kohl’s here 🙁 I’ll keep an eye out at Winners, though … everything eventually seems to find its way there.

  8. I would have taken the floral one and toned it down with a jacket or something. 🙂

    I would wear super loud things to the office though..

    As for the grey one, I like it, but it was too short for me with the slit for the office, and I do have to say the grey one in the photos doesn’t look as flattering on you as the floral one.

    The first one is super cute though….

    • I’ve been working on toning down the “loudness” of my office outfits, and I have to say – I actually like it. I don’t think anyone has noticed, and it may not make any difference, in the end, to how people perceive me, but the unintended effect has been that I’ve discovered that I truly feel more chic and put together in more minimalist outfits. Not that I’m giving up on colour entirely …

  9. Hey, good for you! I think both dresses are almost perfect, but like you said, not quite right for the price and functionality. But yeah, if that floral goes on sale, I’d totally grab it!

    • The thing is, if I didn’t already have so many clothes, and I absolutely needed a dress, either one of these might pass the test for me; but I have been trying to shop more discriminately (as much as my shopping recaps might belie that, hah!), so I think this was a step in the right direction.