Ah, summertime. Undeniably the most difficult shopping and dressing time for the Modern Mormon Woman. Stores and streets abound with tank tops, mini skirts, short shorts, strappy dresses and bikinis. How do we find our place in this season?
I did a little research recently that may or may not surprise you.
I looked at the easiest option for summer style – the dress! Throw it on with a pair of sandals and you’re good to go errand running; with a pair of heels and you’re set for church; keep the heels, switch up the accessories and you’re ready for date night! One good dress is practically a weeks worth of outfits so I searched all the offerings on several different popular store websites. I counted as appropriate only those dresses needing no more alteration than perhaps a camisole for a too-low neckline. The dreaded “Under-T-under-straps” combo shown below was NOT an option.
Ann Taylor: 8 out of 71 dresses would be appropriate
Ann Taylor Loft: 4 of 50
J. Crew: 3 of 89
(and that was excluding the wedding dress options, which, by the way were 0 of 32)
Banana Republic: 8 of 41
Gap: 0 of 30 (that’s right – zero!)
Anthropologie: 0 of 107
Brooks Brothers: 5 of 15
White House/Black Market: 0 of 50
Nordstrom had far too many dresses to count but a cursory search of the first few pages yielded many excellent options! I even searched Victoria’s Secret. 26 of 255 would be appropriate.
But what if you already have strappy or strapless items in your closet that you really want to keep wearing? The key is striking a more deliberate contrast!
I’m a big fan of the new fitted undershirts that have hit the market in recent years. They lend a very helpful hand to anyone wanting to maintain modesty and avoid frumpy. But the look can be taken too far. (Am I bursting bubbles here?) I don’t believe they were ever meant to allow us to wear ANY dress or top out there. (Any undertee maker who says otherwise is just trying to sell more!) Are they perfect under slightly sheer tops and dresses? Absolutely! The best for covering gaping under-arm holes? You bet! Excellent for filling in low necklines and covering "flesh belts"? Sure thing! Good looking under tank or halter style tops? Um... negatory.
So how does this translate?
- Try a longer sleeve T instead of the cap sleeve option.
- Try more than 2 layers. The other day I saw this combo: cap-sleeve underT, sheer, fitted, short-sleeve shirt (worn quite open to reveal the color contrasting underT), very low scoop neck, floaty, tunic-length ruffle tank (spaghetti straps, not thick) on top. All with jeans and sandals. It was more funky than my personal style but I loved that it was clever and creative!
- Work your button-downs instead! A light weight button-down shirt is much more unexpected under strappy or strapless items. It says, "I meant to put together this brilliant combo." Instead of, "Please look at the halter dress and ignore the flesh-colored undershirt glaring out from under it." Check out some of the outfit options below.
- As for those strappy maxi dresses? Take a cue from decades ago and employ a version of the shirt-as-jacket option. Slip a light button-down shirt OVER your dress, roll up the sleeves if they're long, do up just a few buttons at your breastbone (unless more are needed for cleavage coverage) and then knot the shirt just under your rib cage. Adorable, sexy and innocent all at the same time! It'll create very slimming lines as well, with the knot high at the narrowest part of your torso.