It’s dress time over here in Sonoma, and I’m playing around with the Caroline Dress from Artful Home. When I was paging through the Artful Home catalog, it was this color that kept calling my name. Deep Sea is what it’s called. (It also comes in Palm Beach red.) Color speaks and deep sea has a lot to say.
Responding first to color
If I was doing one of my style exercises where I pick a color and then describe it in a first-person voice, I might say things like this about deep sea blue:
I am thoughtful.
I move with grace.
I am quietly dynamic.
I am nourishing.
I am a place to go for contemplation.
I hold space for things to grow.
It’s winter and all those qualities sound good to me—growing, taking time to think and contemplate, nourishment, going through cold, rainy days with grace. Wearing a color that talks to me and reminds me to embrace those qualities is good for my soul. I could do with some deep sea.
Responding to silhouette
The Caroline Dress has a straight silhouette. I slipped it over my head and it dropped gracefully from my shoulders. If I was describing the silhouette of this dress in first-person sentences, I’d say things like this:
I am elegant.
I am pretty.
I am ladylike.
I move with grace.
I am at ease.
I have all the time in the world.
This silhouette is less JLo (va-va-voom) and more Jackie O (subtle and graceful). In this silhouette, I tap into the fullness of my 60s and feel proud of every high and low that brought me to this age. I feel refined and wise. This straight, relaxed shape helps me own those qualities.
Responding to the fabric
Fabric can put us in a mood. A stiff fabric makes me feel at attention, on alert with eyes wide open. A crisp fabric can make me feel strong and ready to meet possible adversity or push back with pushy professionals. I remember setting up a meeting with a photographer who I’d only spoken to on the phone where I wasn’t loving his attitude at all. When I got ready to meet him in person, I paid close attention to the fabrics I was wearing. My collared shirt under my structured blazer paired with a straight skirt helped me get his attention. My fabrics got him to listen to me and show me the respect I deserved.
Let’s contrast the message of stiff fabrics with the message of the fluid matte jersey fabric in the Caroline Dress. What does matte jersey convey? Here’s what I think it would tell us if it spoke in first-person:
I am glorious.
I am full of surprises.
I’m going places.
I’m ready for a good time.
Respecting what the design has to say
And here’s where the design of the Caroline Dress by Comfy USA reinforces those qualities. From the shoulder line to the bustline and to the waist, the dress is straight. But then the story changes. Mullet haircuts come to mind as an analogy. Remember how they were described as ‘business in the front’ and ‘party in the back’? It wasn’t until I spent five minutes in this dress that I realized the top portion of it could be perceived as more business-like but the bottom half of the dress wants to party.
Hidden in the skirt portion of the dress are tucks in front and in back. They invite movement which the matte jersey is all in favor of. Don’t look at my corny moves, but watch how this dress plays.
How I adorned the Caroline Dress for meeting a client
When I wore this dress to meet a client, I decided to contain the party by wearing a long open vest over it. This vest is in a navy pinstripe and has a shawl collar. It will snap closed, but I left it open so you’d see more of the dress. I love how the fabric in the vest ripples down the front in easy folds, mimicking the folds in the dress.
My friend Valerie Raven makes these. (To see how I’ve styled the vest in the past, check out how I wore it in a flared jean outfit.) The long vest over the long dress gets style points. Two longs make a styling right.
I originally tried a denim jacket over it, but the dress said no. Why? Because the coarse denim fabric took all the fun out of the dress. Plus, the straight line of the bottom of the jean jacket hit just below my waist and cut across the diagonal line that’s in front of the dress. It looked cornier than my dance moves. Stacking something blue on top of something blue without being matchy-matchy was strategic. Blues pair well with other blues.
I chose to keep the blue theme rolling by wearing my blue-framed shades from Uber Optics. They’re by l.a.Eyeworks. I wore my silver arty shaped heart necklace that’s on a leather cord. My finger is adorned by the Bumpy Belted Ring from Artful Home. The artist Calleen Cordero made the wide black leather and silver cuff that’s on my wrist. I enjoyed repeating the black leather (in the cuff and in the cord of the necklace) and the silver tones (in necklace and cuff bracelet). I wore black tights with my suede Aquatalia waterproof ankle booties. They’re must-haves in our rainy, cold weather.
I wasn’t doing any swinging or twirling while planning a travel wardrobe for my client who was heading to D.C. but at the end of the day when I was walking to the car, the Caroline Dress was ready to play, even with the vest on. I’m so happy to see the two pieces dancing together. They make great partners, don’t you think?
I always respect the alchemy that results from taking the time to make something work. Not until I figured in the messages of color, fabric, and silhouette, did I really get how delightful it is to wear the Caroline Dress. It gives me what I need and want and more: nourishment, playfulness, and the feeling of life slowing down to a speed where I can enjoy every moment of it.
Thank you Artful Home for sponsoring this exercise in styling the Caroline Dress. Dear Community, I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing this outfit come together and watching this dress in action. When you listen to clothing pieces, what do they tell you? Can you share an example of something you wear that puts you in a specific mood? I can’t wait to hear about it!