Sometimes the Trendiest Dress Isn’t for Every Body

This summer’s hottest dress is loose, long and colorful, often embellished with puffy sleeves, smocked bodices, bright prints and ruffles. Whether you call it a hippie dress, prairie dress or nap dress the focus is on ease and comfort, a blessing for those of us who’ve packed on a few extra pounds during quarantine. Laura and I like the look, so we set out to find our perfect flowy summer dresses, one that could still work with a jacket on warmer fall days. Only one of us succeeded, proving (as always) it’s more important to wear what works for you than follow the trends.

laura's dress

It’s hot here in Chicago, so while I was tempted to transition from my comfy sweats, which is basically what I write in all day, to equally comfy shorts, I realized that I’m not in front of my computer all day, every day, and having something comfortable but cool would be a nice addition to my wardrobe. I have almost no dresses for casual, daytime outings, because when I worked in an office full-time, I used Rent the Runway for most of my casual dresses (and dressy dresses).

When I started looking for a flowy summer dress, I tried on a Marimekko large print dress at Nordstrom that was not flattering—no waist and the pattern was overwhelming. This hippie girl still needs a waist or belt. When I got home, I checked some of the style blogs that I follow, and Girls of a Certain Age, which is written by Kim France and always spot on, had a post that featured lots of dresses by Emerson Fry. After trying on a bunch of dresses IRL, I was pretty sure the Frances Dress 2 would work and yep, when it arrived, it turned out to be comfortable and cool without overwhelming me. Success!

Laura wore her Emerson Fry dress when we went on our lipstick shopping challenge and I admired it so much I dragged her to Nordstrom to help me find a billowy sundress of my own. There were plenty of styles to choose from, at a wide variety of price points. The trend is everywhere.

Unfortunately my trip to the fitting room was a bust. I tried, but I couldn’t find a dress that flattered my curvy, petite frame (5’3″ on a good day). The long hems puddled on the floor and the loose waistlines of shorter dresses made me look like blob with feet. I loved the way the striped dress felt—the fabric barely touched my body—but I felt like I was wearing a Lanz nightgown from my childhood. I want to wear this trend, I really do. I think it would feel amazing to be so unencumbered when the weather turns scorching. But the amount of fabric is overwhelming to a shortie like me, and I can’t bring myself to go out looking like a 58-year old marshmallow.

trendy summer dresses

trendy summer dresses 2

I’m going to continue the hunt for a flattering casual summer dress, but I expect it will be simpler and more defined around the waist. What do you think about this trend? Does it work for you like it does for Laura, or are you giving it a pass? Either way, let us know what you’re wearing!

For more of our fashion posts, click here.

This article was originally published by Style Challengers.

More from Better:

style challangers

Writers and Editors Laura Hine and Marjie Killeen have teamed up to create Style Challengers, a website dedicated to women who want to add more style and ease to their daily lives. The two longtime friends take on weekly challenges in the areas of fashion, personal growth, relationships and more, and share their honest opinions about each experience. (Things don’t always work out, but that’s part of the fun!) Read more of their stories at

  Who We Are       NFP Support       Magazine       Programs       Donate