Falling into Fall Part 7: Fall Dresses

As all of you know I love dresses.  However, I seem to wear way more dresses in the summer than I do in the winter.  Do you want to know why? I find nothing cooler and easier in those hot months than a dress and sandals.  In the winter I am trying to stay warm, so a dress doesn’t always do the trick.

This fall there are dresses on the market that basically fall into three groups:  The funky fun dress for a casual almost weekend look. The classic work dress with a couple of new twists and of course the occasion or dressy dress.  Most of them will hit on the trends of the season: Minimalist, 1970’s Boho and Mod, Victorian, Geek-Chic and Glam-Goth.  Or you can pull accessories to make them into whatever trend you have decided to embrace for that day.

Lot’s of women don’t wear dresses in the winter unless it is for an occasion.  That’s ok there are a ton of great pants, skirts and looks that can cover you for almost anything but hopefully you will read this and get an idea of a dress that you would be comfortable wearing for anyone of the 3 occasions.  Likely you will never find a dress that you can wear on the weekend, to work and out for dinner, but if you had two or three different ones in your closet then you could have one for every occasion. Let’s go through the three different types in detail and I will try to help you see how you can wear them and if they are for you.

Casual Dresses:

Fall 2016 is probably the biggest casual dress season we have seen in a long time of fall seasons.  There are lots of options out on the market.  And lots of different styles, fabrics and textures to entice you into trying them on.  Who can say no to a cozy dress on a cold day with tights and boots?  If it makes you look fantastic it will be hard to say no.  Please remember that not every casual dress style will look good on every body.  Be open to trying different silhouettes on and be honest with yourself, if you don’t love it, don’t buy it.

One of the biggest trends in casual dresses this fall is the shirt dress. madewell plaid shirt dressHere is one of the most coveted styles of fall.  The shirt dress in plaid, which is a super trendy style and fabric right now.  This one is by Madewell ( now available in Canada at Nordstrom) and it hits the 1970’s Boho trend on the button.  It is a little bit longer in the back than the front to add interest. Worn with tights and booties it would be a fabulous casual or weekend look.  It would also be a great under layer for a long sweater or vest. madewell solid shirt dressHere is the same dress in a solid fabric from Madewell.  This could go casual or to the office.  You can simply make that change by changing the accessories from the style of your shoe or boot to your necklace etc.  Where you would wear tights and boots on the weekend to sheer tights with chunky heels for the office.  Maybe even belt the dress to change the look.  Up to you, the shirt dress is very versatile.  They are available from almost every retailer, I just happened to use these ones from Madewell as my examples. Almost everyone can wear a shirt dress, don’t buy one that is too big.  The dress is supposed to skim your body not hide it completely.  Remember if you wear things that fit too big you just look big, curvy ladies especially!

There are a ton of other casual styles out there.  I love a great knit dress for fall.  Something that you could dress up a bit if you need to but mostly you can wear it for casual daytime. I bought one from Nordstrom when their fall sale was on the end of July.  Of course it is sold out now but I will try to show you ones like it. It is a fabulous mock neck (one fo the new trends in necklines for fall, think funnel neck) and I absolutely love it, I wear it with leggings and flats, tights and booties, colored tights and funky heels.  It just works on me.  mock neck dressThis one is a similar style to the one I bought.  Mine is longer ( this is a bit short) and mine has front zip pockets at the hip.  The one pictured by C/Meo from Nordstrom has side pockets and is short.  So something like this you can wear as a tunic, with skinny jeans or leggings.  It would be Minimalist and fabulous worn as a top instead of a dress because it is so short.

turtleneck dressHow great is this loose turtleneck dress from Madewell.  Super cozy on a cool day.  Here they are showing it Sporty with runners but great with loafers or boots.  Again the mock neck and turtleneck is a style that you don’t want to wear too big.  The dress should skim your curves not hug them or hide them.

There are lots of prints and casual funky styles in dresses for fall.  All meant to be worn with funky boots, loafers and the new shoe styles.  Or you can layer them under all the vests, long sweaters and jackets.  Find ones you like and have fun.

Here are some other casual silhouettes that would work great for Fall 2016:denim shirt dressI can’t resist talking about how big the denim and chambray trend is in dresses.  There are denim dresses in almost every style. I love the darker wash of this Kenzie shirtdress. fun swing dressThis fun and funky swing shift dress is also by Kenzie and how much more interesting is it than just a plain knit dress.  Love the a-line and pocket detail. V neck shift dressThis v neck shift dress by Hinge screams 1970’s Boho and if you love this trend, this look is for you. midi dressOr how about a funky midi dress? Lots of them out there.  This one is from Anthropologie.  Look for a midi dress that is in a knit fabric and a color of the season.

Work Dresses:

Work dresses are either really classic and stiff, like perhaps the ones you would wear to court if you are a lawyer.  Or they can be creative and fun, like if you work for a tech start-up or in the fashion or beauty industry.  One of my favorite TV personalities to watch and see what she is wearing is Kaitlyn Herbst.  She is on Global Vancouver in the mornings.  She wears a lot of different dresses and looks and each one is a fabulous as the last.  Check out her great style week day mornings. If you follow me on twitter ( @shec61) I ask her to tweet where she bought some of the great dresses she wears.

Tunic dressA fresh look for work would be a fabulous tunic dress, this one is from Anthropologie. A tunic will usually be comfortable to wear all day long and you don’t need to wear high heels with it to look the part.  There are so many of the casual silhouettes that could work for an office dress as well. turtle neck dress for workLike this black turtleneck dress from Whitehouse Blackmarket.  It is just a bit more fitted and longer than the casual one.  It is also in an office appropriate color – black. mock neck shiftThis mock neck shift dress, also form WHBM is a great office look.  In the winter just layer a colored turtleneck and add tights and you’re all set.  Shirt dresses can work great for the office.  They also work as an underneath layering piece for some of the long vest and sweaters that are out there for fall and would be perfect in an office or business setting. poplin shirtdressThis shirt dress, also from WHBM can easily be layered over for a trendy office look or be fine on its own.  Already have a casual shirt dress like the ones from Madewell above.  Take a long sweater or vest and they become office dresses with the right accessories.

And of course the classic dress and jacket look never goes out of style gromet jacket grommet dressThe grommet dress and jacket both from WHBM as well can give you the classic look with a bit of style and then you can pull off the jacket and go out to dinner.

Work in a creative office but still want to be serious? Put on something like this knit dress knit dressand just add a statement necklace and stacked heel shoes or booties and you are good.

Since one of my last blogs was about office wear, I won’t dwell on work dresses.  But there are lots on the market and websites like J. Crew and Whitehouse Blackmarket can give you tons of inspiration in putting your own office look together.


Occasion Dresses:

So many occasion dresses that continue the trends from summer.  The dress you choose for your dressy event really needs to reflect the nature of the event.  It is very appropriate to wear a sleeveless dress to a fundraising event or party where it may not be for a formal work event.  And formal dresses all work the same for winter as they do for summer.  You just may need to change the accessories and shoes to match the season and the occasion. Eloisa Lace contrast cocktail dressI love the detail and color of this BCBG Lace inset cocktail dress.  It is colorful, has a lace detail ( how Victorian!) and would work for almost any dressy winter event.  There are so many silhouettes and dressy fabrics on the market.  You just need to go into a store with a large selection ( like Nordstrom) and start trying things on.  Give the sales person who is helping you your budget so you don’t fall in love with an $1800 dress when your budget is $500.  And believe me there is a lot to be had for a $500 budget. lace cocktail dressFor women in their 40’s and 50’s less is more when it comes to cocktail attire.  Stay with tried and true silhouettes and just mix up with fabrics and colors.  This beautiful lace sheath dress would look great on almost everyone.  It comes in 6 colors and is long enough.  It also has a flattering neckline for a fabulous statement piece.  Off the shoulder dressOr try an off the shoulder silhouette in a dramatic black or navy charmuse.  So flattering again on almost every body type.  It’s elegant and sophisticated. sequin sheath dressThe most daring a women in her 40’s and 50’s should go is maybe into sequins. This classic sheath style is stunning in sequin and can go to the dressiest of events.   I make this caution because if you wear to short or cutout a dress when you are at the age we are all at you run the risk of look cheap.  We have all seen an older attractive woman with way too much make up and too short a dress on.  It really doesn’t look good.  Remember if a 20-year-old would wear it likely it’s not for you.

One more style to showball gownfor all of us there will be an occasion in our lives that calls for a formal dress or gown.  Pick one that flatters.  This navy ball gown hits all the right points.  The A-line skirt flatters and hides the biggest part for some of us and the fitted top celebrates the curves on top of your body in an appropriate way.  A bit of a sleeve and all you need to do is add heels and jewellery and you are good to go.


Dresses in the fall and winter should make us feel good about how we look.  Whether you are looking for a casual dress, office dress or an occasion one I hope I have give you a great starting point for your shopping.

One thing I should mention is the value of tailoring.  I believe that sometimes a dress is right for you even if it doesn’t fit every curve on your body.  I happen to need a bigger size on top than I do on the bottom.  Thanks to my awesome trainers at Innovative Fitness I am small on the bottom ( too bad they can’t do something about the top).  So when I buy a dress ( and it applies to long coats as well) a lot of the times I have a tailor take in the hips of the dress.  Find a tailor where you live and use him or her to make what you buy and have fit to a T.  I get things taken in when I have lost weight and want to keep them or sometimes I even get things let out.  A good tailor can make all the difference.  I hope you find one you like.

As always I can be reached for comments and suggestions or to book a styling or wardrobing appointment at suethefashionista.com.  Happy dress shopping!

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