To buy or not to buy: the replacement sheath dress

Ingunn's thread on her wrap dress http://youlookfab.com/welookfa.....lenge-week and then her follow up K/T on her sheath dress reminded me that my *own* FFB standby sheath dress has seen better days.

This dress! Here's a link to one way I wore it; there's a pic of a fancier wearing below. http://youlookfab.com/welookfa.....hey-cuties

It was donated by a friend when I was still far too..um...weighty...to wear it. But after I lost weight it was one of the only things in my closet that fit, for months. Simple jersey, it has a nice drape and fits a little bit on the loose side.

The armholes were never a great fit; I believe my bustier friend may have stretched that area out a bit before she passed it along to me. But despite that, I wore it SO MANY TIMES in so many combinations across every single season for two full years....is it any wonder that when I look at it today, I notice that it is getting a little sad?

I am technically on SYC until my trip. But I was planning, of course, to bring this dress on my trip and wear the heck out of it (um...like I do on every trip).

Do I really want to wear a substandard dress in one of the dressiest cities of the world?

So I got thinking that maybe it's time to replace. My dilemma: what to replace it with.

Here are some possibles contenders:

The selfsame dress, from Comrags. http://comrags.myshopify.com/c.....gely-dress

Pros: known quantity, made in Canada.
Cons: might be a different fabric this time around (their jerseys vary in drape and some years are not as good as on the dress I have) and it will have to be hemmed. Will have to pay delivery on top of the dress itself. Sizing is by letter vs. number, so less specific. Black.

Shannon's sheath dress from BR: http://bananarepublic.gapcanad.....=230010003

Pros: Looks substantial, good price on sale, fun leather trim, free returns if it does not fit.
Cons: Black. V neck MAY be a con for me, depending. Might need shortening since no pettites available. May not fit, period, since petite is not available.

J Crew stretch wool shift dress in navy or grape: http://www.jcrew.com/womens_ca...../95962.jsp

Pros: Navy or a fun purple vs. black. Can order in petite and regular to compare. Nicer fabrication?
Cons: Possibly not as packable as jersey. Pricey (though I have a gift card to offset some of the cost). Also, i don't really know my size in J. Crew and might have to do some trying on/ returning, which with J. Crew costs (no free returns). May not be truly cross-seasonal in my climate --- tough to say.

J. Crew Emmaleigh dress in navy: http://www.jcrew.com/womens_ca...../24155.jsp

Ditto above concerns...fit is a bit different on this one as it has a defined waist.

I would love your thoughts.

Should I replace my dress before the trip, or just make do with the old one for the trip and wait? After all, most people will see me with my coat on during this trip...it's not as if the dress will be on prime view.

And are any of these serious contenders? Or do you have alternatives (that I can source in Canada.)

Note: I tried on a pile of great Calvin Klein dresses at the Bay last year....not a single one of them fit me properly. Problems were mainly that they were too big in the wrong places.

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31 Comments

  • nancylee replied 7 years ago

    Hm. This is a tough one, Suz. I really love the look of your current LBD and am thinking that it could still serve you well on your upcoming trip (especially since you'll be wearing your coat most of the time). It can be very stressful to try to find something specific right before a trip, and that stress can push you into buying something that might not be perfect (I speak from experience here!).

    I actually tried on the BR dress recently, but didn't buy it. It's very nice and it fit ok, but it felt too structured. The fabrication was somewhat stiff IMO, so if you're looking for something with nice drape..like a jersey...I'd say this isn't your dress.

    If you feel compelled to buy something and try it now I'd vote for trying to replace this dress with its new version. I know black isn't your favorite...but it is such a useful color. :)

  • cinnamon fern replied 7 years ago

    I vote no to the J Crew because they are not really a replacement for your previous dress - the fabric is totally different. Also, if you don't know your J Crew size, I assume you don't know whether J Crew fits you well or not, you could end up paying a lot in return shipping.

    No to the other two because you ideally don't want black, and they are black.

    HOWEVER, I did note that the BR dress is $60 US but $100 Canadian, which is absurd. Also, it comes in 00 in the US but not in Canada. So you could try the BR and the J Crew while you are in the States.

  • Mona replied 7 years ago

    Suz, I am not much of a help in dress department (sizing and fit issues) as I have only owned one dress ever in my life and don't wear it often but I say you should grab one of these. If you know, you need one eventually then go for it. Later, you may not find it in the right size.

  • Glory replied 7 years ago

    I am on the fence for this one. Your current dress is tried and true and will be a great item on your upcoming trip. Perhaps you will find the perfect replacement on the trip. I do like the BR dress and would consider trying it. Would you consider the wrap dress that Ingun styled this week? http://bananarepublic.gapcanad.....=326715013

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    Good points, all.

    CF - that price differential you note is just part of life as a Canadian. It IS absurd, but it's our reality. For me, the Canadian sale price looks like a deal (plus it's on extra special from time to time - 25% off the sale price today.)

    My upcoming trip is not to the US but to England.

    Hmmmm.....

    Glory - wrap dresses do not generally look good on me because I don't fill them out. Even a faux wrap looks pretty sad on me. Alas, because I love the classic style.

  • Angie replied 7 years ago

    I think that if the perfect sheath dress finds you - get it. But don't go out of your way to replace it.

    There is LOTS of Urban Grit is London. Your existing frock will be *more* than fine. If you were going to Tokyo or Hong Kong - that would be different - because those cities are much dressier.

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    Okay then! I will wear the old one - thank you!

    but I will also try on a few others as soon as I get a chance. I might have an opportunity in a few weeks (still well before my trip) so I will see.

  • Angie replied 7 years ago

    Great idea :). A flexible item on your shopping list. Have fun fitting frocks! Try a Theory one if you can.

  • Sveta replied 7 years ago

    I second what Angie said. I have a similar dilemma now with the blazer and one part of me wants to go a buy a longer navy blazer for the trip but another part is skeptical that by doing this I will settle for "OK" blazer instead of killer one because I am short on time and under pressure...

    Saying that what do you think of this BR dress:
    http://bananarepublic.gapcanad.....=228446003

    I think this neckline may be better for you.

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    Ah, thank you, Sveta...I like from the front but do not like the side view. It has a draped back neckline like a cowl - I can tell it would feel weird under a jacket and that makes it a no for me.

    I just ordered a Ralph Lauren sheath from the Bay. I am almost 100% sure I won't keep it because it is too knit/ body con, but it costs me nothing to try it so I figured why not.

    http://www.ralphlauren.com/pro.....d=17572146

    I think overall you are right. I will go to the Bay in Toronto and see if they have a Theory dress and if not, I will wait and see.

  • lyn67 replied 7 years ago

    This is a good dress, Suz, still working high! Don't replace it in a hurry now. I'm sure will do a perfect job in London, too-and if you'll popp across one better, you'll be ABSOLUTELY prepared to BUY it THEN, and so will acquire a lovely souvenir from your trip there:-).

  • Transcona Shannon replied 7 years ago

    I totally agree that your current sheath is still working and I wouldn't look to buy before your trip. You may be able to find "the one" in London.

    As for the v-neck BR sheath I have, I don't think it would work in non petite sizing for you Suz. Even in petite, the v-neck is quite deep as well as the armholes - I suspect the regular sizing would be off for your frame, even though you do have a longer torso than I do.

  • Mia replied 7 years ago

    Tahari might be worth a look as they are good for petites. I wouldn't put pressure on to replace before trip. If you could look at Karen Millen or LK Bennett in London you would have something you could not get in Canada. That's always nice to have a "souvenir".
    Reiss is nice too. Oh, been too long since I was in London!

  • DonnaF replied 7 years ago

    Take the old dress to London, and if you find the perfect one there buy it as a souvenir and ditch the old one. Or ditch the old one there anyway to make room for other fab stuff. Too bad it's not terribly bulky so as to make LOTS of room. :(

  • cinnamon fern replied 7 years ago

    Oops, sorry, I was misremembering - I thought you were going to NYC!

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    Donna, you are hilarious!!

    I think the old dress is looking better in the photos than IRL. It is getting pretty stretched out and even has a sort of sheen where it has been sat on a lot...true wear and tear. Otherwise I would be content to keep and wear it for another year for sure!

    In a way I feel good about that. This piece was free to me, but it has definitely proven its worth in a big way!! Talk about a wardrobe workhorse. I will have NO guilt whatever about replacing it when I find the right thing.

    I will definitely look in London if I get time to do that. And definitely bring back a souvenir of the trip!

    I saw a Tahari one I liked the look of on the Nordstrom's site, Mia, but it's not worth ordering from the US. If they had it in Canada, maybe.

    Shannon, that is very useful information. I could always order the BR one to try, but it sounds as if it would be risky.

  • Mia replied 7 years ago

    Tahari is definitely carried by a number of retailers out west here in Canada . I got mine at a small chain called Wear Else. I would want to try it at bricks and mortar store. I hear you on the big armholes thing. I can never figure that out. Theory is also a good one to check out but I find it often mini length even on my "tall petite" figure.

    COS is the other place I am going on my imaginary trip to London.

  • MNsara replied 7 years ago

    Love the Comrags one you linked to, but I'm glad you're planning to use the current unless a perfet one presents itself.

    Yeah, the pic doesn't show the wear, but I think using up this one's remaining life on the trip sounds fitting :-)

    When you DO put more energy into hunting, I'd definitely look into Comrags, though. I've not been impressed by the fabrics at BR and even JCrew.

  • unfrumped replied 7 years ago

    Sounds like you've got it sorted out. It would be nice to have the dress for trip and later too, but not at the expense of the wrong one. You have a great sense of what your replacement dress should be like, so hold true to your vision.

  • kkards replied 7 years ago

    if you can, i would try to find a dress in london, the English brands that i have tried here in the states tend to be cut smaller and so work well for small frames.

  • Runcarla replied 7 years ago

    What DonnaF said. Get some last mileage from the tried and true, but don't bring it back.

  • rae replied 7 years ago

    You've already decided, but i was going to suggest looking after your trip, without time constraints possibly coloring your vision. The current one is doing its job for now!

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    Yup. Agreed, all. I will look at the dress I ordered, but it's not a serious order, if you know what I mean. It's just because I can get it and see it for free...so there is no harm in testing it out.

  • Raisin replied 7 years ago

    Well I guess the decision is made.....I got to the party late......but I look forward to seeing it!

  • Jules replied 7 years ago

    They have Tahari at the main Bay in TO.

  • Elizabeth P replied 7 years ago

    Suz, I just wanted to thank you for posting the link to the BR sheath. After the dress challenge last week I went looking for it, and when I pull up the website, it doesn't show up. And they didn't have it in our store. Of course I've missed the 25% off now... but maybe another sale will come on before it sells out... if it's meant to be. :).. I'd definitely like to try it on, after seeing Shannon's.

  • krishnidoux replied 7 years ago

    I would go for both the Comrad and the JCrew ones. The first in black, the later in Navy. I also very much like the RL you ordered and can imagine it quite well on you. You do have the figure for it, and I think it will please your clean line style. Slightly bodycons can be very fun, if quality made!

    One thing when hemming: please make sure the tailor respects the pencil line of the skirt, and not just hem up. Otherwise the cut will be lost and hem will be too wide. I just ruined 2 dresses that way (thankfully, originally thrifted, but still, I have a hard time digesting it), giving it to a "Stitch it" store.

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    Oh, Krish, I KNOW. It is so awful when they do that. I'm so sorry that happened. I think it is more typical for us shorter women for this to happen. I always check now: does it need to be tapered as well? That of course adds more to the cost.

  • Deborah replied 7 years ago

    Suz, I agree that I would continue to wear your existing dress until your new perfect one finds you.you are probably feeling enough pressure preparing for your trip without adding "find the perfect black sheath" before I leave to your to do list:). The dress certainly looks good in the pictures and perhaps you are looking at it with a more critical eye than others would. I also think that if you are layering with it, you should be fine:)

  • krishnidoux replied 7 years ago

    Suz, yes, it adds up, which is unfair and a reminder clothes are mass-made for another body, and that ours isn't in the "norm". Whatever that is. How mass production affects our perception of a norm relative to our bodies, in a sneaky way.

    Please post pics of the RL one when you get it!

  • Vicki replied 7 years ago

    I'm so happy you're staying with your current sheath, because, after looking at the links you provided, I still really like yours best. Plus, Angie's suggestion to take a look at Theory just may be the perfect diversion for you in London and what a sweet memory that would be to bring the new one home or at least to have the great of experience of shopping for the elusive sheath dress down those many lanes and streets abroad. You look spectacular in your current one! :)

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