29 Sep 2015

Style Notes: The Wonder Of The Dress

irving penn photographer for vogue, vickiarcher.com

The dress is a woman’s greatest asset.

Sometimes the wonder of the dress is forgotten in our rush to wear the pants.

We take what we think is the easy way out, the comfortable route and the familiar. Trousers fit into that mind set. Sometimes, trousers or jeans are the only solution but often we wear them because we forget about the beauty and ease of the dress.

Habitual dressing is a trap. This season I am tailoring my habit and re-focusing on the dress.

irving penn photographer for vogue, vickiarcher.comirving penn photographer for vogue, vickiarcher.com



The dress is an ally.

A dress requires less thought; only one piece and some accessorising completing the outfit.

There is something luxurious and superbly feminine about wearing a dress. When I am wearing a dress, even the simplest shift I feel as if I have made more effort with my appearance. Obviously we feel feminine when wearing a dress, but it seems more than that, something of a secret advantage. A dress makes me feel more elegant, better groomed and well co-ordinated.

Dresses suit most women.

Friends tell me, “They don’t wear dresses” because they don’t “work for them”. I don’t really believe this logic, as I know dresses can. It is more about finding the style and length that is suitable for an individual shape and not being “frightened” of the dress. It is easy to hide in pants and jeans because they become our fall-back and our comfort position. Wearing a dress makes more of an individual statement.

irving penn photographer for vogue, vickiarcher.com

The Right Dress?

Finding the right dress is like hitting the jackpot.

I believe in buying a dress when you see it, not when you need it. I have never had great luck in finding something for a special occasion and I know buying what you fall in love with, what feels comfortable and what flatters will find its time and place.

I have similar dresses in my wardrobe.

When a cut suits, duplicate it. There is nothing more advantageous than copying a successful shape. Run with it; there are so many variations in fabric and colour to play with.

irving penn photographer for vogue, vickiarcher.comirving penn photographer for vogue, vickiarcher.com


This season I have decided to wear dresses more often, dresses that take me through the day and into the evening.

The ease of waking up and putting on a dress is very appealing; all that remains is the choice of shoes or boots to compliment the look. I like that idea of simplicity. There may be more planning in the buying, more experimenting and trying on but once found, it is done.

Did we once think that dresses were only to be worn for best?

They aren’t. Dresses are for every day that we choose to wear them. Footwear makes all the difference when it comes to dressing the dress up or down. One dress can perform in many ways with a change of shoe.

And what about the dress worn with an overcoat? This combination was once well worn and a favourite ensemble of fashionable women.

The glimpse of dress peeping out between the layers, the line of the body accentuated by the cut of the coat and a beautiful pair of shoes is one of the most feminine ways we can dress.

The dress is a wonder and our asset to work with. Let’s use it, xv.

Wonder Dresses

***carven robe cady  //  ***max mara doretta  //  max mara agi

wear with

***sportmax cielo coat  //  ***gianvito rossi lorraine velvet block heel pumps   //   d & g embellished suede pumps

thank you matchesfashion.com for the inspiration and for the constantly superb curation

images irving penn for vogue

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Mimi Gregor

Amen to this! This summer, I wore a dress most of the time — specifically a white sundress. It fit me like a dream, is machine washable, and simply styled. It can be dressed up or down. I didn’t have to think about what to wear; just slip it on, add a few accessories, and I’m good to go.

I wanted an LBD that worked just as well, and spent well over a year looking for the right one. Then, while grocery shopping one day, I passed an Ann Taylor and saw The Perfect Dress in the window. They didn’t have it in my size, but I tried others on that were, took a chance and ordered the dress. When it came, I was very pleased — it was exactly what I had been looking for: a simple sleeveless sheath dress, with darts in all the right places to make it look as if I have an hourglass figure (I have a pretty boyish figure, actually). The only problem is that it zips up the back, so I need my husband to help me get in and out of it. (What do women do when they live alone?)

A dress is the perfect article of clothing. It requires very little thought. It looks chic. And I find that others treat me better when I am dressed better than the average person. And ladies — please don’t be afraid to wear your dress at home, even when making a meal. That’s what aprons are for — use them!


Mimi, yes.. a dress and an apron… good idea!
Our lovely dresses must be worn at home and actually.. all our best pieces should be used, not saved… Where better than at home…


How do you handle a back zip when you live alone? Paperclip on a string, of course.

I don’t wear dresses these days for the simple reason that I don’t care for them or how they define me. I become someone else when I wear a dress, and I’m not interested in being that person right now. Maybe next year. For now, I like the attitude & the lifestyle that comes with jeans & boots 90% of the time. If I have to get “dressed up”, it’s black slacks & hot shoes. I think one’s clothing style, as with one’s home decorating style, properly comes from one’s attitude & personality & (for now, anyway) I am SO not a LBD (or any dress) kind of woman. [I’m also newly retired & have a feeling that shedding the dresses from my wardrobe is part of a greater shedding, so this comment is NOT aimed at other women’s style choices — and mine may change in a heartbeat!]


And isn’t that the beauty of being a woman, Janet… we can change our style whenever and however we want…
Enjoy your jeans and boots… dresses will always be there if and when you want… :)


Oh, yes! I have a good friend who, when she gets dressed every morning, asks herself: “so who do I want to be today?” I think of it all as just a wonderful grown-up version of playing Dress Up.


It funny, but I’ve been feeling the same way. It’s been so hot and humid where I live, that I’ve decided dresses are the answer. I love your choices. I can wear dresses through fall when I add leggings/tights and boots and a sweater or wrap. Thank you for the inspiration.


Melanie, I love dresses with coats.. I think it is my absolute favourite way to dress for winter. Although I do love a summer dress… it is the only thin that makes sense sometimes…


The dress! Thanks for reminding me! Seems that it’s easier to cover the lumps and bumps with jeans, top, cardigan, and scarf! Our society has shunned the dress for decades now, when once upon a time it was an important and often-worn piece in our wardrobe. I recently bought one. Now to work on the lumps and bumps so I can wear the pretty thing!


I think dresses can cover up so much if worn in the right way and with the right cut… not to disencourage, because we do want those lumps and bumps minimized.. ;)

angela a. trehern

I have always loved dresses from childhood up! I find them more than comfortable! Great flattering styles can be found so many places!! A great pair of flats or heels…full speed ahead I’m ready to go & about!! Love, love this post(:


I wore skirts and dresses almost all summer long in Argentina. It was just too warm and humid to wear jeans or trousers or much of anything ! I love wearing skirts and a pair of sandals on a summer day ..


Vicki I would love to see women wear more dresses.
I love to wear them and don’t enough, more of my long cotton flowing ones in the spring and summer.

The Arts by Karena

Teddee Grace

I couldn’t disagree more! So many women just don’t have the legs to wear dresses unless they are floor length and totally cover the leg. Some of the poor victims of that horrible television show that pushed the dress looked embarrassingly terrible after their make-overs.


In business the “power of the dress” goes such a long way. I never wear trousers to meetings or work events.


Where we live, our winters are almost never cold enough for a coat, but I love buying knee-length coats that don’t button to wear with my dresses indoors. I recently purchased a gorgeous coat, but I wondered about the length…..it is about 3″ shorter than an LBD that it would look great with. Should the coat match the length of the dress when it is worn as its companion indoors?


I love dresses but as a 50-something, I can’t go barelegged anymore due to age spots and saggy knees and it seems that hosiery is out so I feel stuck. I can do black tights in the winter but I have a hard time figuring out what to wear with black tights since it changes the whole feel of the dress.


I wear dresses but make sure the length is on or below the knee… add a little bronzer or colour to the legs and nobody will notice any age spots… :)

Esther George

Hi Vicki, such beautiful dresses. I can’t remember the last time I wore a dress, I am a skirt and top kind of girl, I guess all the years of being in the office I got attached to this style of dressing. I love soft skirts and pretty sandals/shoes. Thank you for sharing beauty. Till next time, regards Esther from Sydney. PS love the way long coats look over dresses.


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