We are going through a particularly unsavory fashion moment for dresses currently: there’s a lot of this type of thing going on due to the cottagecore trend, which, in short, is a trend that will not be happy until we are all dressed like Half Pint on Little House on the Prairie before it’s all over. I went searching for somewhat more sophisticated, non-sister-wife-looking options and came up with the following, starting with this dotted shirtdress that looks fancy, but in fact rings in at under $50.
This pretty flutter-neck number costs a bit more, but is the type of dress that would be suitable for so many situations, and it’s feminine without being prissy, which is always a plus.
This corduroy shirtdress from Cos is so totally out of my playbook that I might have dreamt it; I like this dark green, but it also comes in black, for those of you who roll that way.
A sort of vintage-y-looking brown floral that I’d probably wear with a slightly slimmer belt than is shown here.
I really dig the combination of purple, black, and green here—what a happy and unexpected explosion of color.
A number of you have asked me what the fall version of a caftan is, and I have to say that this caftan dress is pretty much the perfect answer to that question.
Universal Standard makes this sleek wrap dress in a few colors, but I’m partial to it in black, which should come as a surprise to absolutely no one who visits this blog regularly.
And why not a hippie girl dress for fall? On cool days, just layer up with tights and a cropped cardigan, and you’re set.
The print here is just so good, and I think this is a dress that would look equally good belted or not.
For days when comfort is paramount, you could do a lot worse than this drawstring-neckline specimen.
This gorgeous dress reminds me of golden-era Donna Karan; it’s almost sold out in this taupe, but is available in all (offered) sizes in black.
I love a dark floral, and this one is nicely subtle. I don’t even mind the slightly puffy shoulders, which typically really turn me off.
I’m not a fan of sweater dresses usually either, but this half-zip one is just aces.
A pretty dress with a bold and graphic print. Again, I’d wear a slightly slimmer belt with it.
An empire-waist dress that reminds me a lot of how I dressed in the 90s, and not in a bad way.
And finally: a tie-front shirtdress with a really good leopard print.
The Vince v-neck flutter sleeve dress is 150% my style. I could eat it up.
Also love the pattern and the streamlined style of the ba&sh Calliope Carbone dress — that’s how I prefer floral to be done — elegant and modern, not overly sweet.
Alas, giving my wallet a rest for a long while.
I bought the long polka-dot shirt dress from H&M. I didn’t expect to like it in person, because I find their stuff rarely looks as good irl, but in this case I was pleasantly surprised. I’m very tall, so it’s a good length for me. Sleeves are long. I found it to be very oversized, so went down.
Oooh I do love a good fall caftan. My cool-weather dress purchases have leaned more toward the sweatshirt variety over the past year, but maybe I should branch out!
I’m really drawn to the H&M black caftan and the “chic hospital gown” dress with the drawstring neckline. Black is a constant theme for me!
That other thing you linked to, Kim – oh myyyyyy. It’s *haunting.* (wah wah) Whereas, there are some lovely dresses here. The Universal Standard wrap dress looks very interesting. I love the purple print one. I like at least two of the ba&sh, which is a good batting average for a grump such as me.
I screamed when I opened the link. GAAAA!
Kim– I’d be happy if any of these made it into my closet (I have a shirt dress and caftan habit). A public service note, based on some recent experience trying to order from H&M (very selectively, because every once and while their stuff ends up standing the test of time), I suspect one would need to order several sizes down for that black caftan.
Indeed that lace-collared thing is FRIGHTENING. What adult woman would wear such a thing? OTOH, Kim’s selections are fab.
Agreed. Please tell me this isn’t really a trend. I feel like I am back in Middle school wearing Laura Ashley.
kim, please do a post on the Target collab with NL, Rachel Comey and others. Hard to find pieces as those collabs always are but I think it’s really good. Would love to know what you and others think of it. The jean shirt is really good.
I’ve really been trying to avoid fast fashion lately, but I couldn’t resist the Nili Lotan/Target collab. I bought the denim shirt but haven’t received it yet, so I’m glad to hear that it’s really good! I also bought the black ankle pants but haven’t gotten them yet. Today I received the double-breasted checked long coat, and I’m shocked by how great it is. It fits like a dream (true to size), and it seems very well made. My only reservation is that the checked pattern is quite obviously stamped onto the fabric (vs. woven into it), but for that price it’s totally understandable. Just a surprisingly great affordable coat all around.
Anyone else here carry weight in their middle? And given up wearing anything close to an empire waist because they have gotten a few well-intentioned “Congratulations!” or heaven forbid, a belly pat with smile? The last time that happened (at around 120 lbs.), I told the stranger (a woman too! – don’t everyone know better by now?!) that I’m not pregnant, didn’t just give birth and my “baby” was 4.
Oh yes. Been there, experienced that, cried about it, got mad about it.
The JCrew leopard is so good. Could they be embarking on a comeback? The & Other Stories floral is darkly romantic. It could be a Ganni but at one-third the price. Great picks, Kim!
Agreed! I want to run out and buy more dresses now. I generally love designs from & Other Stories but their sizing is wacky and they unfortunately still don’t let us try on in retail yet.
I’ve had that H and M caftan for a couple of months now. I like it, but it’s quite sheer. That shouldn’t be a problem for layering in the autumn, but it was a challenge in the hotter months.
Wanted to share that Tucker NYC always has fantastic grown-up hemline options! (Don’t be put off by their site’s odd production values; their clothing is gorgeous, and beautifully made.) There are some incredible caftans, midi-dresses, and shirt dresses available at the moment:
Great website! But why or why does EVERY label show the midi this past season with a ruffle at the bottom? I understand the idea of creating a trend, but can no one think independently in fashion anymore?
Thanks, Kim, for showing LOTS of non ruffle options!
Just speaking for me, obviously, but I ideally want an approach between the super-stark minimalist hospital gown/caftan style and the super-puff, big bib and ruffly, big skirt. Just because I want a defined waist doesn’t mean I want a super big circle skirt that would overwhelm my lack of height and petite frame.
Great post and fab picks. I’d love a whole post dedicated to “winter caftans” (or maybe all-season caftans and caftan-adjacent specimens). I can’t get enough, and I’m now fully embracing my new caftan-based lifestyle. I just bought the COS drawstring-neckline dress, and it’s on sale!
Hope it’s okay to put this here – D., thanks for the response about the bathgel. And you got me thinking about bookstore tote bags. Some people say they have enough of them, but I haven’t reached that point yet. Maybe from now on when I travel, I will make sure to buy a book in a store. I have a bit of a hankering to visit New York. No idea when it might happen. I don’t think I am feisty enough to actually live there though.