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50 Classics for Your Closet Part 7: Skirts & Dresses

So far, I’ve looked at footwear, accessories, baubles and tops in Matchbook’s list of 50 Classics for your Closet, and in the last installment I covered pants and trousers. This week, I’ll look at my favorite pieces of clothing; skirts and dresses. Why are skirts and dresses my favourite? Because there is no easier way to look feminine and polished than in a skirt or dress. Lots of SAHMs complain that skirts and dresses are not practical for someone running around after young children, especially toddlers, but I have never found it a problem. In fact, if you pick your fabrics right, dresses and skirts can be some of the easiest pieces in your wardrobe. 

Skirts & Dresses

  1. Little Black Dress
  2. Fun Day Dress
  3. Shirt Dress
  4. A-Line or Bell Skirt
  5. Wool Pencil Skirt
  6. Cotton Mini

What list of classic clothes would be complete without a Little Black Dress? There is something so sophisticated about a LBD, that can take you from the desk to dinner, from a parent evening to a mum’s lunch, just by switching up the accessories. The key here is to find one that is classic, in every sense of the word. You want it to be simple in shape, with few (or no) embellishments, so you can accessorise easily. I love a classic sheath shape, with a scoop neck and no sleeves – perfect for those with hourglass figures like mine. Smaller busts can carry off higher necks, and wider hips look amazing in dresses with an a-line or full skirt. As for fabric, it depends on where you live and your lifestyle. Seasonless wool and cotton sateen are my first choices, because (excepting extreme climes) they really can be worn through all four seasons. Ponte knit is also a great choice, and can be very flattering on even curvier gals.

The Fun Day Dress is what makes up 99% of my dress wardrobe. All of my dresses are in fun and often vibrant prints, and for fall/winter, they are all jersey, and for spring/summer, it would be a 50/50 split between jersey and cotton. I love dresses for day – they are so easy to slip on, are nice and cool for summer, and with a cardigan, tights and a jacket are toasty warm for winter. I have a tummy, so a faux wrap is the perfect choice for my jersey dresses. For my cotton dresses I almost always go for a variation on a sheath dress – sleeveless, scoop neck and pencil skirted. If I had a different figure, I would swan through summer in a full skirted 1950’s style dress, so if you are slimmer than me, please give this style a whirl!  My main criteria for selecting a day dress, after silhouette, is whether it be machine washed. If not, I don’t buy it. For a dress that is going to be worn regularly, I want something that can be tossed in the washer. And in the case of jersey dresses, I hang them to dry on a coat hanger, and then they don’t even need ironing. They are truly the pinnacle of low maintenance!

Oh, the Shirt Dress…how I love thee. And how little you suit me!  When will I accept that a shirt dress is possibly one of the least flattering pieces of clothing out there for body shapes like mine? All those buttons, just waiting to gape in all the wrong spots – of course this is a disaster piece for me, and most likely, for the majority of women out there. A shirt dress is truly a beautiful piece of clothing – it’s crisp and polished, with a hint of sexiness combined with a hint of utility. But just make sure it is a perfect fit for your body.

The A-Line or Bell skirt is another item that is great in theory, but not for me. The A-line is a wonderful casual piece, and will do wonders for those who are pear shaped, as the the A-line glides over the problem areas, while highlighting the waist. On hourglass or apple shapes, the extra volume in the skirt can add pounds, so be careful if you’re are trying to look slimmer. When shopping for A-lines, look for fabrics that have some drape and softness, so the look is not too stiff. I love printed cottons for summer paired with wedges, and nubby tweeds and knee high suede boots in winter. 

Is there anything sexier than a pencil skirt? I don’t think so! This is my skirt silhouette of choice, and in fact, every. single. skirt I own is a pencil. For an hourglass figure, you really can’t go past the pencil skirt – it hugs your curves in all the right places, and highlights all the best features. The Matchbook list suggests a wool skirt, and this is a good place to start, but don’t stop there! I have them in cotton, denim, wool and in plains, prints and textures. I prefer mine slightly tapered with a kick pleat so I can walk easily, but if you feel too “hippy” in a tapered pencil, then look for a a skirt that is cut straight down from the hip. I usually pair my pencil skirt with some sort of heel, either a stiletto or a wedge or even a knee high boot, but a ballet flat can also look great.

When I’m talking about a cotton mini, I’m not talking about the micro short one you wore when you were 18, but a nice, fun, casual skirt in a flattering length that sits somewhere above your knee. For me, I am comfortable with a length no shorter than a hand-span above the knee – I find this length to be flattering and practical. Any shorter, and not only do I find it less attractive, practicality goes out the window – I can’t reach down easily, and even sitting becomes a risk for me. Here is where you can go wild with colour and pattern; these are usually relatively inexpensive, and a fun print or bright colour can really add dimension to your casual wardrobe.

Stay tuned for my last entry (finally!) in this series, when I cover a much forgotten part of our closets, our outerwear.

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