Don’t Mess With the Dress

by Rachel on February 23, 2011

As February flies by and March draws closer, I’ve got one big thing on my mind: SXSW.

My company is hosting an official party and the execution of said party has become my job. Party planning is exciting and intimidating, but with just 19 days to go, I’m mostly left concerned with what I’m going to wear.

I mean…I have a good sense of my own style, but dressing for the Austin crowd was a whole new thing. I turned to the girls on our marketing team in Austin for advice and they said that even though it’s a laid-back happy hour at a bar and grill, they’d still be wearing skirts or dresses. OK — so that’s a start.

But what dress?

My first thought was, “This is when you buy an Anthropologie dress.” Now, for the record, despite every white woman’s deep love for Anthropologie, I’ve never even tried anything on there. I’ve been afraid to dip a toe in that pool because I know I could want to dive right in and never shop anywhere else. And, really, I’ve not yet had a compelling reason to. But since this is a big-girl job and I’m hosting a big-girl party, I thought it might be the place to go in this situation.

On the other hand, after an initial look around their website, I was feeling less than enthused. The problem with stores like Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters is that they do the whole “granny chic” thing very well…but I don’t do it well. It’s not my style. It doesn’t go with my hair. And it’s usually just not…sexy enough. The dresses often feature mistaken-pregnancy-inducing empire waists instead of defined waists which is necessary for someone who actually has one (along with boobs and an ass) and they are always a bit too long for my short frame. I mean, it’s not like I want to wear some Hervé Léger mini-dress and a Snooki pouf to the party, but I do need something body-conscious.

Disappointed in the just-too-shabby chic, I gave up on Anthropologie and started looking through tons of other great sites and magazines, trying to find something to inspire me. I didn’t even know what I was looking for yet. Something casual but polished, something versatile, and something me.

Apparently that was not a good enough description because I was striking out across the board. So I ended up back on the Anthropologie website this week and, turns out, they had a bunch of new items. And suddenly, they had what I was looking for. I headed directly to the store on my lunch break on a mission to try on three items I’d found online.

The good news? Everything was great!

The bad news? Everything was great. I’m now struggling to make a decision and while I’m mostly sure, I wanted to get your thoughts. There are many pros and cons for each, and I’ve been considering it from every angle.

First up: the Twisted Stripe Dress.

When I saw this dress online, it made me reconsider Anthropologie. It’s just my style. It’s sexy but polished, youthful, modern, perfect for day-to-night, it has a waist and a short hemline…there are so many good things about it! When I came out of the dressing room, the three salesgirls loved it. And I did too, but the more I thought about it, the more there was to consider.

Pro: It’s the most versatile of the dresses I tried on. The light material feels very casual, so I know I could wear it with flat sandals just as easily as heels and add a jacket or a blazer for a different look. I could see myself wearing it a lot.

Con: It needs to be tailored, but I’m not sure how easily it can be. It looked good — and I think it looks a little better in the photo than it does in person, honestly — but for that price, it needs to look perfect. I have a really narrow back, so dresses are often to big and gap in the back and I have to have my mom alter them for me to make them lay flat against my back. But because of how this is cut in the back, I’m not sure it’s possible.

Con: The $298 price tag. That’s lot more than I wanted to spend. I’d do it if I were sure, but I’m just not sure. If I’m spending that much on a dress, I need to want to be buried in it. And I don’t know that it looks that expensive — it’s cute, but I feel like it could just as easily be from Banana Republic.

Pro: Despite not being perfect, it’s still great.

Next up: the Color Block Dress.

This honestly looked unspecial on the hanger, running the risk of being dowdy and frumpy, but when I came out of the dressing room, everyone was genuinely surprised by how much they liked it. As in, we all kind of agreed we actually liked it more than the striped dress. Of my friends I’ve shown it to so far, they have liked this dress the least, but I think it just looks better in person.

Pro: Despite its 1950s silhouette, there is something very modern about when it’s on. The colors (and I love that pop of blue!) and the fabric made it feel both casual and sophisticated, and the knee length and the belted waist made it look really fun. I felt like it was what Betty Draper would wear to Austin.

Con: It’s not super versatile. I could see myself wearing this on several occasions, but I can’t see myself wearing it with flat sandals. It would definitely require wedges, and therefore a more dressy situation. And it’s more of a dressy day dress than an evening dress, although, let’s be honest — how often do I need an evening dress?

Con: So far, my friends have liked this one the least, but I no one has

Pro: The price! At $158, it was the least expensive of everything I tried on and yet I feel like it comes across as more polished than the stripe dress.

And finally, the Americana Skirt.

This skirt was not easy to find! (Actually, nothing was easy to find in that store and I’m glad I knew what I was looking for because just going in and browsing would have been disastrous.) They eventually found one, which someone had returned, and it was miraculously in my size! (Which has decreased, by the way, making shopping just that tiny bit more fun!) When I came out of the dressing room, we all knew we had another really good one to consider. One of the salesgirls even said, “This seems like the perfect compromise between the first and the second.”

Pro: The best thing about this skirt is the details — check out it on the Anthropologie website and zoom in, because that really is what makes it so special.

Pro: Actually, I take that back. The best thing about this skirt is that the cut is so flattering and it made me look skinnier than the two dresses. And really, isn’t that what every woman wants in an outfit? It also happened to do something amazing for my backside. I feel like this is what Joan Holloway would wear to Austin.

Con: I’d have to find a shirt to wear with it. This isn’t a huge deal, but would require more time and effort, and would take up the total price from $188 to probably $240. The thing that concerns me most is finding the right shirt to wear with it. I tried some on at Anthro and, after thinking about it further, I’m just not 100 percent sure at this point what type of shirt (tee or thin sweater?), what color (white looked good, but cream looked better), or what neckline I’d want to wear with it. So while I love it, buying it would still leave me with some work to do.

Pro: The colors! Red, white, and blue? So America! So Texas!!

All right, so those are my options. I know everyone will want to vote for #1, despite the cons, but it’s mostly between #2 and #3 for me right now. And I’d like to hear your thoughts!

On a related note, I think I have enough of you imaginary friends in Austin that it seems like a good idea to plan for a meetup while I’m in town! It will most likely be in the early afternoon on Sunday, March 13, and once I get a better idea of how many people are interested in coming, then I can figure out the where. And maybe I can plan it so that I need to get the dress and the skirt for my two days in Austin? Maybe?!

OK probably not. Probably going to be going to Forever 21 for any further additions to my closet.

Anyway, if you’re interested in meeting up, e-mail me at rachel [at] rachelwilkerson [dot] com so I can keep you in the loop!

Yay Texas!

{ 135 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Erin February 23, 2011 at 11:14 am

I actually like #3 the best. It’s just so interesting and it makes you look really long and lean! And who doesn’t want that?

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2 Meredith @ An Epic Change February 23, 2011 at 11:15 am

1. What day are you here for South By? I’m going to be in San Antonio/Fredericksburg for a few days and I’ll cry if I miss you.

2. I vote for the stripe dress or the skirt if you can find the shirt. I LOVE that skirt.

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3 Rachel February 23, 2011 at 11:43 am

March 13-14!

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4 Annabel @ www.FeedMeImCranky.com February 23, 2011 at 11:17 am

the skirt! it’s too original to pass up.

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5 Kristy February 23, 2011 at 11:18 am

SKIRT. They all look great, but the skirt is exceptional.

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6 Laura Georgina February 23, 2011 at 11:18 am

I love all three so I’ll live vicariously through you. (I also have issues finding short-torso dresses that hit in the right places and a narrow back, so I feel your pain).

Particular thoughts? Number one is gorgeous and, if you want to wear it with a belt for a pop of color, may need less altering than it would if you didn’t wear it with a belt. Something about drawing the eye in to the waist makes slackness elsewhere less a big deal; it’s how I’ve dealt with my closet lately.

Dress two is really sweet–you could add a necklace or crazy accessories for flash, and I can also see it dressed down (flats, cardigan or scarf/pashmina). I love it, but I can see why the others might be better choices for SXSW.

The skirt–AMAZING. You could wear it with even a plain tank top (not wife-beater material, but not special) and a kickass necklace and you’d need nothing else. I’d prob go with cream or navy… but a light blue like the small stripes might look amazing, too. A jacket would sass it up nicely, too.

So I think #1 or #3… and seeing all this makes me want to sew.

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7 Jaclyn February 23, 2011 at 11:19 am

I like the zebra dress the best, based on the photos. It makes your shoulders look amazing! That’s one expensive dress though. Based on this post though, you seem to like the color block dress the best–maybe you should just go with your gut?

On a related note, have you checked out modcloth.com? I drool over everything on that site and it has TONS of different shapes, styles, and prices. Might be worth looking at.

Good luck!

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8 Rachel February 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I’m so hesitant to buy a dress online when I have no idea how it will fit in person. I buy a lot of clothes online and I’m usually fine with it…I guess in the case of a dress, I feel like a lot more things can go wrong? Or, I guess, a lot more things need to be right.

That said, Modcloth.com is awesome — thanks for sharing! I’m definitely going to look there before I buy any of these; it might be worth the risk!

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9 Rachel February 23, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Damn, all the ones I’m loving are sold out!!!

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10 Liz February 23, 2011 at 1:47 pm

I’m looking on modcloth right now b/c my boyfriend bought me a dress for Christmas from them, but it ended up not fitting….their dresses are cute and they do have free returns, but it’s kind of a pain in the ass to not be able to try them on.

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11 April February 23, 2011 at 3:35 pm

I was going to mention modcloth as well! I have many friends who have ordered from them and loved everything AND they have some of the booty issues you speak of. Plus, you could really order a few of them and return one or two if they don’t end up working but they would still be cheaper than any one of the dresses from above (although they all look great on you).

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12 Dori February 23, 2011 at 11:22 am

Definitely #2. You will stand out with the bright colors and it is so flattering on you!

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13 Leah @ L4L February 23, 2011 at 11:22 am

I’m actually loving #2. I think it is very flattering on you and I think the price is right. It’s a great dress for a work party – cute but not sexy. You shouldn’t be sexy at a work party (IMO) and #1 is sexy. The skirt is fab but I don’t think it is very “bar & grill”. It’s more cocktail. And given that you would indeed have to seek out the perfect top (which could prove challenging), I’d just go with #2 and be done with it.

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14 Rachel February 23, 2011 at 11:46 am

Good point! Also, just for the record, I’m not trying to be sexy at a work party — I guess I mean body-conscious. But because it is a party for actors and we’re in a creative industry, I definitely should look stylish/trendy. Not like all cleavage and such, of course…but definitely attractive and not uptight or too business professional!

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15 Lesley February 23, 2011 at 11:23 am

I’d go for #3.

Honestly, the 1st dress is cute, but NOT worth the price at all.

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16 Lesley February 23, 2011 at 11:26 am

also, i totally recommend checking out modcloth like jaclyn said! i mean drool:
http://www.modcloth.com/Womens/Dresses/-Curve-Your-Enthusiasm-Dress

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17 Rachel February 23, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Oh I LOVE that. I don’t know if it’s too sexy for this event but it’s exactly my style and I LOVE IT. This site is really good…sadly, a lot of my faves are sold out though!

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18 Joslyn February 23, 2011 at 11:25 am

Pow girl!!!! You are bangin’ in all three outfits but in order of preference to me, it’s the skirt first, followed by the 50s cut dress, followed by the stripey dress. The skirt is just so unusual and beautiful that it has to be worn I feel!! The 50s dress is gorgeous and totally up my street but definitey more for a wedding or something. And the stripey dress is hot but I still prefer the skirt!! It’s stunning and your ass can totally carry it off, so show everyone how it should be worn!! It’s classy and hot and sophisticated all at the same time! Hmm that was fun!!

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19 jessica February 23, 2011 at 11:25 am

crazy expensive, that anthropologie. but damn, that skirt is freaking fabulous! i definitely think you rocked that one the most.

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20 Carolyn @ Lovin' Losing February 23, 2011 at 11:28 am

In order of how they look I’d go 1, 3, then 2…BUT..I almost choked on my lunch when I saw the prices. There are designers I would spend that kind of $ on (if I had it), but NOT brands like Anthropologie. If you’re willing to spend $$$ I’d go to Nordstroms or Macy’s and get something unique, yet classic.

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21 Stephanie @ The Cookie Battle February 23, 2011 at 11:28 am

Of the two dresses, I would go with the first one. You will get a lot of wear out of it and it’s neutral enough to wear a colorful shoe. That being said, the skirt is amazing. I would buy the skirt without the intention of even wearing it to the event to take the pressure off of finding a shirt in time…but buy that skirt.

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22 Smash February 23, 2011 at 11:28 am

I like #1 and #2 but, to me, neither really seem like it goes with the SXSW crowd. :( Both look a smidge too dressy maybe. Have you tried looking at Urban?

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23 Jenn February 23, 2011 at 11:29 am

Another vote for #3. It’s hard to say, as the pic of #2 just didn’t do anything for me. If it really is that great, do it, but…I’m not convinced. I love #3. (As well as #1, but since you’ve knocked that out, I’m going to let it go–and it is WAY expensive.)

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24 Stina February 23, 2011 at 11:30 am

The second dress is my favorite, but I think that’s because I could see myself wearing it.

My vote is for definitely the skirt though. I think it’s got the perfect amount of uniqueness. I think a simple top with some awesome accessories – I could see a chunky necklace working well – would look fantastic!

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25 Diane February 23, 2011 at 11:31 am

I really love dress #2! The colors are great and I like the combination of classic and modern. The skirt is interesting, but it seems like it could become one of those things you wear only a few times because it’s SO memorable and/or you’ve already been photographed in it. (Maybe nobody else is a diva like me, but I totally plan my outfits around picture opportunities!)

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26 Jessica February 23, 2011 at 11:31 am

I’m loving the color block dress! I could totally see that going more businessy with a blazer and pumps, too. I’d wear it with flip flops in the summer, too. I think it’s a lot more classic and versatile than the striped dress.And, at the risk of voicing an unpopular opinion, I can’t STAND that Americana skirt! Ick!

All of that being said, I’m not the voice of your finances or anything, but I agree with Carolyn (above) that Anthro’s prices are a wee bit ridiculous for the quality you’re getting.

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27 Jennifer February 23, 2011 at 11:33 am

I really loved the skirt! It’s so unique. I’ve honestly never seen anything like it! That skirt is the way to do Americana without it being over-the-top cheesy, Fourth of July corny. Love it! I think a cream-colored, sleeveless blouse would work. In fact…I can’t see exactly what you have on in the photos, but that top looked great to me!

My second choice would be the first dress. It’s so sexy on you!! But if the cut isn’t “just right” and it might be difficult to alter, DON”T BUY IT!! $298 is a steep price for it not to fit perfectly. I’d hate even spending more money to alter it. Unless you can honestly say that you’d wear it over and over again.

Still…that skirt…just seems so Austin!

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28 Keri @ Iron Mountain Movement February 23, 2011 at 11:34 am

I love the skirt, go with the skirt!

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29 Frances February 23, 2011 at 11:39 am

I love the first dress – It is versitile and it looks great on you. I know it’s a bit spendy, but if you think about it’s cost per wear versus the other items (including having to find a top for the skirt), I think it wins in terms of value as well.
I think while the skirt looks great and the second dress fits you well, they aren’t versitile enough and you might tire of them sooner. Other than this event, how much would you really wear that skirt?

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30 Pfieffer February 23, 2011 at 11:45 am

Amen on your feelings towards Anthro price tags. Whenever I go, I look at the tags and think, “In order to pay this price, I need to look damn amazing in this dress/skirt/shirt/etc.” The problem is, I’m not exactly the type of person who looks in the mirror and says, “Damn, girl, you look damn amazing.” One, that’s too many damns in a sentence and two, although I think I can clean up well, I don’t feel like I ever get THAT into myself. It seems too Zoolander-ish. Also, how ridiculous would your red cowboy boots look with that skirt? I’m not really sure what side of ridiculous that would be on, but I’m thinking the awesome side!

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31 Bess February 23, 2011 at 11:46 am

Really into the #2…the modern “Mad Men” look… #3 would be great if it were a 4th of July party and while #1 is cute, I bet you have 5 dresses that look like it. Just my 2 cents.

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32 Eunice February 23, 2011 at 11:46 am

Well, first of all, you are pretty damn hot. They all look fabulous on you, and I’m not one to throw around compliments. Props!

Up until just recently I had no idea what SXSW was so I don’t know how valuable my opinion will be. But, I really like dress #2 based on the way you described the occasion. It’s cute, affordable, and it seems like you really liked it. The skirt is beautiful, but I agree with Diane, it’s one of those things that you can only wear so many times since it’s so unique.

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33 Jessica VZ February 23, 2011 at 11:48 am

I have to say my vote goes for the skirt. It doesn’t just look good, it looks amazing on you. The second dress is also pretty cute, and you could wear it to more than one occasion, but I love the length/pencil skirt style on you, it’s amazing. A question to ask yourself, could you see wearing either of them multiple times? I love the skirt, but if you’ll only wear it one way and to one place, then maybe the dress is better. If you think you’ll wear the skirt to, say, an amazing barbecue where you want to look fabulous and casual, you could do that, or you can dress it up and throw a silky top with it and call it a night.

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34 Martha February 23, 2011 at 11:51 am

I love the skirt- it’s unique, it’s perfect for Austin, and you look awesome in it. Plus, you’d probably be more likely to re-wear it- you can dress it up or down. SKIRT SKIRT SKIRT!!!

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35 Martha February 23, 2011 at 11:53 am

PS- Wear a navy, cap-sleeve tee tucked in. With a v-neck!

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36 Rachel G February 23, 2011 at 12:04 pm

I vote for the skirt. Looks great & so so cute!

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37 Brittani February 23, 2011 at 12:05 pm

#3! I adore that skirt on you, and it’s totally appropriate for every aspect of the setting – work party, Austin and a bar&grill. The shirt “dilemma” might be a little inconvenient, but at least the colors are easy to match with (PLUS, you get a new shirt for a very justified reason).

One important question: where or where did you get your white shoes?

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38 Alison February 23, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Skirt! Skirt! Skirt!

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39 Nel February 23, 2011 at 12:14 pm

1. I can’t decide if it’s too sexy for a work function. I’d say do legs OR shoulders but not legs and shoulders? I’d say if you’re doing shoulders, you almost don’t want the fabric to drape around your lower half quite so much, maybe you’d want to go for something more like http://www.modcloth.com/Womens/Dresses/-Second-Verse-Dress.
2. Super cute, but it makes you look younger than you are.
3. Also cute, but that is what we call a “vag” ruffle. The placement of the ruffle is unfortunate.

I think #2 is the winner right now. I should also state that you look lovely in all of them, it’s probably just a matter of appropriateness at this point.

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40 Mel February 23, 2011 at 12:17 pm

You definitely look great in all 3! I ADOREEEEEEE #1 but I don’t think I could get passed the price tag either – especially when Forev21 or a toga party probably has a knock off. Sigh. The skirt is pretty freakin awesome too. I feel like it would be a great conversation starter and really versatile depending on what you put on top.

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41 shelby February 23, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Definitely the first dress! I think you’d get a lot of wear out of it, which would justify the price.

The second dress is cute, but I don’t like it as much as the first one.

Honestly, I don’t love the skirt. The cut is great (and your ass does look smokin, if I may say that without sounding creepy) but the whole thing with the print and ruffles is just a little too kitschy for me.

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42 Summer February 23, 2011 at 12:22 pm

I actually love, love number two, but I think it’s because it seems Mad Men inspired, and well, I’m obsessed with Mad Men. I love the 1st one, but I don’t it’s worth the price plus the additional cost of having it tailored. I agree with Laura, though, and I think I could see it paired with flats.

P.S. Your body in that first dress?? Boom boom pow!

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43 Nicki February 23, 2011 at 12:24 pm

LOVE the first dress! Even if it’s the most expensive (including cost of alterations), you KNOW you’ll get a lot of wear out of it in the future.

I’m also enamored with the skirt the more I look at your pictures. Since it’s such a bold, fun and totally TEXAS piece, how can you resist?! I think wearing a basic white t-shirt with a big statement necklace would make it/you AMAZING! Go for it.

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44 Kat February 23, 2011 at 12:46 pm

I LOVE #2, but have to agree, it’s not as ‘you’. #3 looks amazing on you – and is more versatile, even if you do have to buy a shirt to go with it. You don’t have to get the top from anthro either – I’d start at f21 and work my way back to anthro if I were you.

Adorable any way you go!

Kat
gingerandthegeek.com/kitty-corner

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45 Danielle February 23, 2011 at 12:53 pm

DRESS #2!!!!

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46 nicole February 23, 2011 at 1:00 pm

skirt.

i don’t even consider myself a patriot & i still say go with the skirt because it’s just so damn [in a good way] patriotic! hell, i’ve been known to burn flags for the sake of art [who doesn’t love a photograph of a flag burning on a charcoal grill?] & i’d wear that skirt, it’s just that killer.

plus, i like the contrast of the white top you have on against the cream colors in the skirt. i think it’s unexpected &, yeah it’s a little more “busy” but you can pull it off. i wouldn’t try to simplify the top because the bottom half has a lot going on [even though i’m sure that’s what stylists would say].

if you’re gonna do it, go all out! besides, 95% of making an outfit look good is knowing you good no matter what anyone else thinks.

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47 LC February 23, 2011 at 1:06 pm

The skirt. That is a singular piece. The others look like you could have gotten them anywhere.

#2 is more Austin and more daytime. I think #1 is honestly a leeeetle more sexy than work appropriate, but I’m semi-conservative when it comes to that stuff. But as I said, my vote is #3.

I actually think it would look super cute with a tee and a fun necklace. Makes it more play, less work.

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48 Elisabeth February 23, 2011 at 1:12 pm

This post seriously had me immediately on the Anthropologie site looking for that skirt! It is AMAZING. I know that it’ll be extra work, but to me it’s a no-brainer. The beautiful and unique little details, the flattering silhouette, the perfect retro-meets-modern flair. Love it, it looks great on you. Not for nothing, but the white shirt you have on looks pretty good with it.

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49 Elisabeth February 23, 2011 at 1:12 pm

p.s…I’ve NEVER been on the anthropologie website, nor in an actual store…so the fact that this skirt brought me to the dark side is impressive.

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50 Lauren @ Sassy Molassy February 23, 2011 at 1:18 pm

The skirt is definitely my fav! So flattering.

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51 Rachel February 23, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Love the skirt! So cute and fun!

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52 Melissa February 23, 2011 at 1:27 pm

#1 is easily my favorite, however #3 is a close second! I love how “Texas” it is! Plus, it looks super flattering on you, and I think you could have fun dressing it up or down. And who knows? Maybe you will find a cute top to go with it at Forever 21!!

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53 Kristen February 23, 2011 at 1:28 pm

The skirt, for sure! It’s the cutest of the 3!

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54 Taryn February 23, 2011 at 1:35 pm

#3. Do I have to justify why? I just think it’s beyond adorable.

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55 Elizabeth February 23, 2011 at 1:38 pm

#2 – there is no way in h e double-sticks that you should spend $300 on a dress from Anthro. I may anger the faithful, but I have spent a lot of money there over the past 5 years and their quality is just NOT worth it. (They *are* part of the Urban Outfitters brand, after all.) For that price, you can go buy this adorbs Kate Spade dress -http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/kate-spade-new-york-jillian-dress/3144583 – that you’d actually be able to re-wear since it’s memorable but not “that dress”.

I have made the mistake of buying one-off dresses for events and, despite my best intentions, I rarely wear them enough to get my money’s worth. Buy something you love that you feel good in (and can wear the shoes with that you like/will wear when you re-wear it), and you can accessorize it to make the (in)formality level appropriate.

I think the skirt is really cute, but when I look at it I just think: this will not make it through one round at the dry cleaners intact since there’s so much cotton involved, so never spill on it or take it somewhere smelly.

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56 Emily February 23, 2011 at 1:38 pm

The skirt. No question. Plus its worth the price (not that its that bad) because you can pair it with different tops for few different looks. I would just make sure you have a shirt in mind before you commit.

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57 Taylor February 23, 2011 at 1:43 pm

I loveee the skirt! It’s so different and totally flattering. I think it would be worth spending a little more time/money on finding a shirt also. However, they all look cute :)

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58 Jen February 23, 2011 at 1:45 pm

I like dress #2 the best! Plus, I think it is the most versatile.

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59 Liz February 23, 2011 at 1:49 pm

I like number 2 best. The skirt IS definitely original, but I think you look great in number 2, it’s super classy and I think you can totally dress it up or down!

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60 Gracie February 23, 2011 at 1:55 pm

1) This is my favorite dress option. The only thing I don’t like is that it sort of resembles a zebra print, which I’m not a huge fan of. But, it doesn’t look quite as zebra-y on you than it does on the website photo.
2) I don’t really like this one. I love the color block concept, but the silhouette kind of bores me. It doesn’t show off your bod enough!
3) Love, love, love. So unique, so slimming, so feminine yet edgy at the same time! I’d definitely go with a white/cream top…what about something strapless? With a fun-but-not-too-flashy necklace?

So, #3 is definitely my favorite, followed by #1. Can’t wait to see what you decide! :)

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61 Sable February 23, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Oh,my god, I am SO WITH YOU on the empire waist dilemma. They just do not work for me. I have too much of a butt I think? I don’t know. They never, ever, ever look good.

Okay, rant over.

I LOVE #2!!!!! It is so Jackie Kennedy-esque and looks so cute on you — I think it really elongates your torso and legs personally. And the color! I die. But I do love all 3 — that is just my personal fave. :)

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62 Melissa February 23, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Skirt!

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63 melissa (fitnessnyc) February 23, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Love the first one! But they all rock. I also never understood the appeal of the famed anthro, other than the store being really pretty! But I think I have to reconsider after reading this post.

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64 Jess February 23, 2011 at 2:20 pm

the first dress is my favorite, i’ve been coveting it myself. it looks great on you and is pretty timeless, but the price tag is a lot to swallow. have you checked jcrew, urban, banana and madewell? might find something you like for about half…also this dress is on sale and fits your criteria i believe:D

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65 jenna February 23, 2011 at 2:21 pm

the skirt all the way! for the money, those dresses need to scream your name, and i’m just not getting it. the skirt is unique and looks awesome on you. i think either a white, cream or navy cap sleeve tee or thin sweater with a v neck or u neck tucked in. definitely not as hard to find as one may think. i want an excuse to wear that skirt!

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66 Kristen February 23, 2011 at 2:34 pm

They all look FANTASTIC!!!!!! But #3 is my fave!!

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67 Rachel February 23, 2011 at 2:46 pm

I definitely vote for #3. It looks amazing on you! And I think it could easily go from day to night. It could be worn at a cocktail party with a low cut top. But for this occasion you could do a more sophisticated, modest top. I think it’s perfect! And yes, you’ll have to invest in at least one top to wear with it, but I think it’s worth it. A good investment!

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68 betsy February 23, 2011 at 2:51 pm

I like #1 and #3 best. I think the dress is unique yet classic – and you can wear it year-round.

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69 Elina (Healthy and Sane) February 23, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I seriously love all 3 (yeah, like that was useful, lol). I guess if I had to really chose I’d go with the skirt. Sorry, I know it’s more work since you’ll have to find the shirt. :)

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70 Sher February 23, 2011 at 2:59 pm

DEFINITELY no. 1 I think you look SO chic and sophisticated in that dress. STUNNING. For me, the 2nd look is a bit more casual! The skirt is hot too :) I just know that EVERYONE will be drooling ;) Approx 300 bucks is a lot though! There is no way i can every afford anything on Anthropologie :( :( :( Have fun choosing for the big party!!!

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71 sarah February 23, 2011 at 3:04 pm

I’d go with #2. Honestly, I think it looked the best.

The skirt is cute but it reminds me more of housewife chic – like you’d be hosting a 4th of july bbq with a handful of kids running around and grabbing a beer for the husband.

Dress #1 is very pretty but wayyy too expensive and too dressy. Also factoring in tailoring and its like just go with #2.

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72 Ashley Breton February 23, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Hey Rachael,

The striped dress looks GREAT but the skirt is way too original and flattering to pass up. You can find a cream/white top at Forever 21 or Charlotte Russe for an affordable price. Props to you!

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73 Jessica February 23, 2011 at 3:14 pm

I loved #1 on you (and those shoes look great with it)! However, if you’re between #2 and #3, I’d go with #3. Girl, that skirt looks fabulous on you and really hugs those super feminine sexy curves. I’m jealous of those curves too! :) Good luck! Can’t wait to see what you choose

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74 Sara February 23, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Check out this one! http://www.modcloth.com/Womens/Dresses/-Foodie-Review-Dress
1. Its name is Foodie Review Dress. How great is that?? 2. It reminds me of dress two which i think is so cute. Even if you dont think it is as versatile, I think you could wear it all spring/summer and if you wear it to work you can pair it with a cardigan and a belt. So cute!

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75 Kavi February 23, 2011 at 3:26 pm

They all look great, but I’m voting for #2. I just love the colors! Add a pair of cute sandals and a big white hat and you’d be all set for, say, a clambake at the Hamptons ;)

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76 Alexa @ The Girl In Chucks February 23, 2011 at 3:36 pm

I vote for #2!

Sorry, but that skirt was just too much for me to handle. ;)

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77 Ashley Breton February 23, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Rachel** hahaha

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78 LK February 23, 2011 at 3:44 pm

First of all, you look *amazing* in all 3. My fav is #1, the striped dress, but holy hell that’s expensive. I also love that skirt – so cute & unique, and I think you could wear it a lot of different ways.

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79 June February 23, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Def not #2!

#1 and #3 are both cute and appropriate and look great.

DEF NOT #2!!!

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80 cassie February 23, 2011 at 3:49 pm

definitely #3 the skirt.. it’s such a statement piece, you can’t go wrong with it at all..

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81 Cameo February 23, 2011 at 3:52 pm

I have the exact same feelings about Anthropologie with regards to my style and figure, but you found a couple cute pieces! Out of the 3 I say, #2 will give you the most bang for your buck, and I do think you could wear it with cute ballerina flats if you wanted to go casual. However, if I had the dough, I would skip Anthropology and invest in something by the designer Milly. Colorful, classic and body conscious in a grown-up-girl way. http://www.millyny.com/Shop/Just-In/?SR=sr3_184748991_go&gclid=CKqVufKTn6cCFcnc4AodABjwLA – but it ain’t cheap!

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82 Stephanie February 23, 2011 at 3:57 pm

I’m actually diggin #2. I really like #1 but you said it’s a more casual party so that one seems more Draper. #3 is DEF slimming and looks HOT but I worry it’s almost TOO much. I would feel that way…but then again…you did look hot in it. :)

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83 Ana February 23, 2011 at 4:03 pm

First of all, how freaking hot are you? LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVEEEEEEE number three. The skirt is super detailed and super good quality so that means you can go with something plainer and less expensive on top, like a neutral coloured v-neck tank or a sleeveless, silky u-neck. You can get shirts like that from H&M, saving you money in the process. Seriously though, I am in love with that skirt.

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84 Phoebe February 23, 2011 at 4:04 pm

My vote is definitely #2. It’s funny because I was in the Anthro here two days ago and didn’t see any of these items but now I totally have to go back and try that dress on too. I’m a big Mad Men enthusiast and I definitely agree that that dress has the look! It looks amazingly flattering on you and I love the “casual but sophisticated” effect. It’s not really my style to worry that I won’t fit in with the “look” of a place so the fact that the dress might be less “Austin”y wouldn’t deter me personally. I tend to think that skirts that you can’t wear with multiple different tops aren’t a great value, but again that’s just my two cents. Good luck choosing!

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85 Amy February 23, 2011 at 4:07 pm

AH, I love love LOVE the first dress.

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86 Parita@myinnershakti February 23, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Rachel, go with dress #1! It was made for you. :)

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87 Caroline February 23, 2011 at 5:00 pm

I DEFINITELY think you should go for the skirt!!!
a) i think it looks best on you out of all 3, including #1 fa sho. #3 most flattering!!!
b) it’s SUPER cute and really unique aaaand patriotic! go america! go texas!
c) did i mention it looks amazing on you? like, much better than the rest amazing?!
good luck finding a shirt! go skirt! go skirt!

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88 jenna February 23, 2011 at 5:05 pm

as far as the dresses go, i like #2. it’s really interesting and bright, and i think it looks great! i could see trying some kind of cute brown sandals with it, but wedges would be so cute.
but #3 is probably my fav. my motto is to always go with what is most flattering. i think it would be sooo hot with a cream, scoopneck tee. :)
good luck deciding!

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89 Lauren February 23, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Definitely the skirt. It’s so flattering. And I just looked at it on the site and the back side is cut so beautifully. I would avoid pairing it with white or blue– I like your idea of cream a lot. Perhaps a charcoal gray? Skirt or dress, you’ll totally own whatever you choose!

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90 Jasmine @ Eat Move Write February 23, 2011 at 5:20 pm

My fav on you is # 3 definitely.

I like number 1 too. Definitely not #2. I like it, but it doesn’t seem like you.

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91 Julia February 23, 2011 at 5:38 pm

I prefer two .. I think its the most flattering and you dont have to trapse around looking for top :)

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92 fattyfile February 23, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Oooh, I love posts like this. I think you look amazing in the striped dress and, by looks alone, it is my favorite. It is such an awesome dress! My only reservation is that I would feel uncomfortable wearing a short, halter neck style dress to a work event. How young is your work crowd? Would you stand out in a dress like that?

The skirt is my second choice. It looks fabulous on you and I think it’s a better combo of sexy and chic (and work appropriate). That said, how much use would you get out of the skirt? It’s such a stand-out piece that it could get dated quickly. When I’m buying something $$, I want to make sure I get a lot of wear out of it, know what I mean? Do you have outlet stores near you? I heart the BCBG outlet. I feel like BCBG, while outrageously priced most of the time and with skankalicious craziness some of the time, does have great, age-appropriate, chic pieces. I’ve had great luck at their outlet stores.

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93 Rachel February 23, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Yup, I looked there — the store and the outlet. I was expecting more but I was seriously disappointed! They are usually so reliable!

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94 fattyfile February 24, 2011 at 12:53 pm

boo!

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95 Sarah February 23, 2011 at 5:56 pm

What kind of vibe are you going for–cocktails, mingling, networking, presenting something new to an interested crowd? If so, #1, definitely (although I actually would be inclined to say “keep looking” since it’s too expensive and you would still need to get it altered.) #2 is backyard barbecue with some of your Junior League friends. #3 is cute but may be TOO casual since you’re the event planner. My rule of thumb is, when in doubt, ALWAYS dress up and then add some swingy, fun accessories in case it turns out to be more casual.

I also found a few others that I think would look good on you if it was a night time event (I’m bored and have no life, apparently.)

http://www.anntaylorloft.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=30872&N=1200007&categoryId=211&Ns=CATEGORY_SEQ_211&gridSize=sm&showAll=true&defaultColor=Black&defaultSizeType=Regular

http://www.anntaylorloft.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=30859&N=1200007&categoryId=211&Ns=CATEGORY_SEQ_211&gridSize=sm&showAll=true&defaultColor=Tidal%20Blue&defaultSizeType=Regular this would be fierce with some cage shoes

http://www.anntaylorloft.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=30865&N=1200007&categoryId=211&Ns=CATEGORY_SEQ_211&gridSize=sm&showAll=true&defaultColor=Deep%20Navy&defaultSizeType=Regular (love the exposed back zipper)

http://bananarepublic.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=50130&vid=1&pid=813508 (lose the tights, add some fun shoes with a pop of color–this neckline would rock on you)

http://bananarepublic.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=50133&vid=1&pid=802907 (LOVE!)

If the party has a more casual vibe than what I’m implying with the above dresses:
http://bananarepublic.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=50129&vid=1&pid=813516 (you could wear this with the white shoes you are wearing in the photo)

Okay, I am getting ridiculous now but I just LOVE fashion challenges! You will look great in anything you choose!

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96 Jordan February 23, 2011 at 5:58 pm

I love the skirt, and it is so Texas-esque.

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97 Lauren at Keep It Sweet February 23, 2011 at 6:22 pm

I vote for the first one! I often have the same problem with Anthro- I really need to go to the store and try on a million things… usually I end up with anything but a dress there.

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98 Elizabeth February 23, 2011 at 6:23 pm

#3! #3! It’s just so incredibly fabulous. I can imagine Joan donning it in TX, but I can also see Samantha from SATC rocking it too. It. is. hot.

The other two are great, but I think they just don’t have the same “WOW” factor.

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99 Sarah February 23, 2011 at 6:53 pm

The skirt! Its so pretty, and plus if you find a variety of shirts that go with it you can have so many more different outfits out of it, so its more versatile (:

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100 Cyndie February 23, 2011 at 8:00 pm

I would go with #1, but the skirt also looks great and would probably look best for the type of even your going to.

I TOTALLY know what you mean about that whole granny-chic style UO has going on. I can’t wear over-sized shirts and still look OR feel sexy.

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101 jessi February 23, 2011 at 8:08 pm

i do like #1 the best, however if it really is between 2 and 3, i say go with 3! the skirt is so unique and you’re right, so texas! just bust your ass to find a shirt that goes with it :) you’ll look great no matter what you wear!

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102 Kayla February 23, 2011 at 8:57 pm

I’m definitely going with the skirt. You could wear it with a few different tops in the future, thus creating multiple outfits.

Plus it’s totally precious and makes your booty look phenom.

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103 Allison February 23, 2011 at 9:03 pm

The skirt hands down!

The first dress reminds me of Ann Taylor loft or Banana Republic, and as you said altering it may not be all that possible (plus that will just up that lovely $289 price tag) not something I’d risk so close.
The second dress just doesn’t scream fun the way that the skirt does, and its not as flattering as most retro cut dresses.

I see a cream top and some red shoes and a fun night in Austin with that skirt!

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104 sarah (the SHU box) February 23, 2011 at 9:04 pm

love love LOVE anthro. and as a petite/curvy girl with a whole wardrobe of anthro dresses, i was like, “HUH!?” when you mentioned you wanted something more structured with a defined waist . . . because a lot of their dresses are these days.

i honestly like all of those on you! i would probably pick the color block dress although i also really like #1.

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105 sarah (the SHU box) February 23, 2011 at 9:04 pm

oh, and i bet #1 will eventually hit the sale rack! SO many things at anthro do if you just sit back and patiently stalk them on your wishlist :)

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106 Bethany @Bridezilla Bakes February 23, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Skirt!!!! It is SO unique. Love.

I love the first one, but as someone who is familiar with the whole “this needs alteration, but I’m going to buy it anyway” decision… something about that dress seems like it’d be hard to alter. And, if the alteration goes poorly, you’re out the $$$ price of the dress, you know?

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107 Hima February 23, 2011 at 9:34 pm

I love the skirt! It’s such a unique take on a classic pencil silhouette. I think it’s worth it price wise, not only because you rock it, but because it’s not something you’ll find a version of at every other store.

Sidenote: I’m completely obsessed with the decor of Anthropologie. I daydream about the day I have my own home to style it up like one of their stores … oversized wooden door and all.

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108 Mary @ stylefyles February 23, 2011 at 9:35 pm

#1 or #2

in ten years you will regret #3

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109 Rachel's Mom February 23, 2011 at 9:38 pm

I like #2, and not because I am a cheapskate, but I like the way it looks on you and I like the colors, too. It reminds me of spring. :)

#1 is ok, but I don’t think it’s worth the price, especially if it doesn’t fit right.

#3 is just kinda weird. It looks to me like the bow should be in the back, but then it would look like some strange 1980’s prom dress. I like the print in the back, but the front is just too busy. It looks like….no, just no.

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110 Dori February 25, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Best comment ever.

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111 Brie @ Brie Fit February 23, 2011 at 9:50 pm

#1 is a little Wilma Flintstone.

I like #2 the best. #3 is okay, but…I don’t know. Something to me says “rodeo queen” and not “hot funky young thang” about it.

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112 caitie February 23, 2011 at 10:10 pm

#1 or #3 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I feel like the skirt you could get more wear out of though, pairing it with different shirts, cardigans, etc.!! But I love 1 too!!
I dont hate #2 but it looks too housewifey, not sexy enough!!

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113 caitie February 23, 2011 at 10:12 pm

btw the skirt looks blah on the mannequin and I would never have picked it out, but it looks awesome on your body!!

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114 Shannon Fox February 23, 2011 at 10:10 pm

I hate the Americana skirt. It looks like one of those vajayjay sculpture necklaces on etsy. LOVE number two. It’s so cute and modern, and it looks fabulous on you!

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115 Megan February 23, 2011 at 10:10 pm

DEFINITELY #3. The first one is all right, but animal prints are a little too Kardashian for me. And for that price, it should bond to you as soon as you zip it up. Choice 2 is cute but you’re going to a hot party in Austin, not a coffee shop/brewery/book signing/hand drum concert in Portland. Pass. And I live in Portland.

I’d get a solid colored scoop neck tank for the skirt in a nice, snug fabric and pair it with a long necklace. I can see it in my mind, but as I wear scrubs all day and jeans/t-shirts at night the correct terminology escapes me. =)

So yea, definitely the skirt.

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116 Jenna February 23, 2011 at 10:29 pm

THE THIRD ONE. OBBBBSEEEESSSEEEDDDD

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117 Ashley February 23, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Get both #1 and #3. The dress is fab and that skirt is SOOO Texas!

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118 AliSue February 23, 2011 at 10:57 pm

I have to say number 2, this one is also on my wish list. You look amazing and you can wear this dress casual or dressy. If I am buying something that is a good chunk of change I look at the cost to wear value. I have all ready ‘paid’ off an amazing shirt and sweater I got from there this past Christmas. Have a blast at SXSW, it always falls over spring break so I have never been able to go.

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119 Kayla February 24, 2011 at 7:23 am

Ordinarily I live to lurk, but popping out of my shell this once to say “The Skirt Is Ace!”

And also, “Skirt, Skirt, Skirt!”

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120 caroline February 24, 2011 at 8:32 am

I just skimmed the comments and I may be the only one to tell you this… But please don’t do 3! It is very Texas.. but not in a good way. I love 1 but don’t $300 love it. 2 is a great dress, colorblocks seem to be everywhere I look lately and it looks fabulous on you!!

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121 Natalie @ Scarlett Notions February 24, 2011 at 9:57 am

You look great in all three, but my fav is #2. Work it!

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122 kate February 24, 2011 at 10:26 am

dress 1. meh
dress 2. looooove!
skirt. your bum looks splendid in this.

i would have to see the top before i chose the skirt… keep us posted.
so for now my choice is dress 2.

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123 Michelle @ michellegmason.com/blog February 24, 2011 at 10:37 am

The skirt, definitely. It has the most Austin-chic vibe to it. A simple tank top (light blue or cream/white) and maybe some leather or chunky jewelry to keep it casual and more hipster-fied. Nude wedges or bright navy flats would look great.

That skirt has tons of dress up/dress down possibilities for other events, too!

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124 natalie February 24, 2011 at 11:39 am

#3! fo sho! im a texan and that skirt screams texas. definitely not #2. i feel like you could even wear cowboy boots with the skirt. mmmm cuteeee!! : )

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125 brittany February 24, 2011 at 3:49 pm

That skirt is fantastic. It looks like it was made for you! I’m definitely voting for that one. I think you could easily find a cheap shirt at Forever 21 or something to keep the budget down. And I would definitely do a shirt not a sweater to keep it looking slim and in proportion. Love it girl!

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126 Suzanne February 24, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Skirt! It looks amazing on you and it seems more you than the 2nd dress.

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127 Ash February 24, 2011 at 9:58 pm

Anthropologie is great, but their clothes are crazy expensive. I used to be an anthro junkie, but just cannot afford it! Try Francesca’s- they have online stores and are branching out all over Texas. It is similar to Anthropologie, they have a lot of clothing with the silhouette you described, and they are about 1/4 the price. It is quickly becoming my fave store. Good luck! And I would go with Dress number 2.

http://www.francescascollections.com/

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128 phil February 24, 2011 at 11:22 pm

Skirt #3 with a white top (although red/ blue could work too that you can tuck in!
I’d keep it simple w/ cotton: either a racerback tank top to show off your fab arms and collarbones or a crew neck tee. Keep it up simple up top and sleek! You’ll look great and it won’t break the bank!

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129 Alexandra February 25, 2011 at 11:29 am

#3…The skirt is so original and gorgeous!

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130 sbg February 25, 2011 at 1:49 pm

the first dress is my fav! it looks great on! if you are concerned about the back, you could always throw on a shawl until you can get it altered. love it!

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131 christine February 25, 2011 at 2:44 pm

in this order: 3, 1, 2 :)

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132 Brittney February 25, 2011 at 3:13 pm

I like number two! The skirt is really cool, but I’d stress way too much over what to pair with it and the dress is awesome on it’s own. You look great in it!

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133 Andrea @ CanYouStayForDinner.com February 26, 2011 at 11:51 am

I LOVE how you look in all three! But the skirt really really won me over! Rock it

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134 Kionda February 27, 2011 at 3:29 pm

I may be a little late but my choices are #3, #1, and #2 in that order. #3 looks to work best in a work party environment. #1 looks great on you and could work as well but is more of an evening look IMHO.

Hope you find what you are looking for if neither of these work out. :)

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135 Kelly @ Featheredflower March 10, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Oh my goodness I’m absolutely LOVING that first dress. Not the price, but maybe worth the splurge! I’m going to stalk it online from now on, for sure.

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