Yesterday I headed to Dressbarn to check out a new concept they're calling Dressbar. It's a kind of shop-within-a-shop where the cheap-chic dress retailer can highlight certain frocks, including designer collections created exclusively for Dressbarn: LUXE by Carmen Marc Valvo, MiXT by Heidi Weisel, Lovely by Adrianna Papell, and dbRSVP by the db Fashion Studio. Each of these designers' names are synonymous with dresses, so I was excited to see what they had designed for the budget-savvy Dressbarn shopper. Keep reading to see what I tried on, what worked and what didn't!
First of all, props to my store for actually having a Dressbar! Nothing is more disappointing than when you read about a cool new line or collab only to find that, oops, your local store doesn't carry it.
Dresses in the Dressbar were right near the front entrance and pretty clearly marked as you can see from my photos. The only designer I wasn't able to find was Lovely by Adrianna Papell, which was a bummer, but you can view her collection online HERE.
Belted Tropical Dress, $48
So the first dress I opted to try on wasn't actually by a designer but was featured as the "Dress of the Week" (on their website, Dressbarn.com, they feature a dress of the day. Fun.) I was drawn to the fresh floral print that looked like it could pass for something more expensive (as opposed to all the other florals at Dressbarn - you know what I'm talking about, they look very "found at the mall." I'm not trying to be critical but some prints just read more expensive than others and Dressbarn often misses the mark with their prints. So many of their dresses could be elevated simply by choosing better prints and patterns! #endrant
This dress was super flattering. I love the longer length (a shared characteristic of expensive dresses: More fabric!) And the faux leather bow-belt was chic and worth keeping. I usually swap out belts that come with dresses but I'd totally keep this one. At the same time this dress would look great with a black or brown belt depending on how you're styling it. This dress is bra-friendly and also comes in plus size (as do all the dress styles in the Dressbar).
In terms of sizing, I'd say all the dresses run true for misses sizing. For reference, I squeezed myself into a size 4 in all the dresses except this one, where I had to go up to a 6. I needed major help zipping all the dresses - both my husband (who was chasing our little guy around the store while mommy played dress up) and a helpful sale associate struggled with the zippers. Each zipper would get stuck where the skirt met the bodice of the dress (especially if the dress went from a woven to a knit). So frustrating! But we got them on eventually. Maybe it's just me?!
Luxe by Carmen Marc Valvo Floral Dress, $62
The next dress I tried on was this impressionistic floral print dress by Carmen Marc Valvo...
I wasn't in love with the print but it did fit me really nicely and was very flattering. Fashion forward? I'm not so sure. But with the right accessories you could take this up a notch. It would look pretty at Easter, a spring bridal shower or a wedding.
Mixt by Heidi Weisel Ruched Sheath Dress, $62
Next up: This LBD by Heidi Weisel...
I've started watching House of Cards so this knock-'em-dead dress reminded me of something Clare Underwood would wear. It looked great on me from the front (and back, what what) but awkward from the side. However, I think this dress could look amazing on the right body type.
Mixt by Heidi Weisel Textured Dress, $62
This was the dress I wanted to love the most! The citron hue, textured fabric, and structured silhouette all give it a high(er)-end look...
As you can see, it doesn't look awful but it's not sitting quite right on me. I wasn't wearing the right undergarments so that probably contributed to the less-than-perfect fit. The pleats in front sorta jutted out in a weird way. But I love so many things about this dress, if the price was right, I'd still scoop it up! I'm wearing a size 6. If I wanted to wear a push-up bra with this I'd probably have to size up, as you can see it's tight across the chest right under the arm pits. But nothing a little jewelry can't conceal (divert the eyes!)
Mixt by Heidi Weisel Eyelet Dress, $58
Last but not least, I tried on this black and white dress...
...which turned out to be my favorite dress from the bunch! It just felt most like "me." I love anything eyelet, so there's that, and I liked how it felt modern and chic. This is a dress you could easily dress up or down, think flat sandals and a straw hat for a casual summer gathering, or with heels and a clutch for a cocktail party. The only downside: I'll probably get the white skirt dirty the first time I wear it and it won't work with a regular bra.
The bottom line: My interest is piqued and I'm planning on going back to store wearing the proper undergarments to try on some more dresses before I make a final decision. Oh, and I might be waiting for a sale. Currently they're offering $10 off the purchase of two dresses. I'm really happy to have these options available to me, even if they aren't the most groundbreaking designs, they're flattering and versatile.
Finally, don't forget to check out the jewelry by Dressbar - who knew they had such cute stuff?! And for more inspiration, see how fashion blogger Cara Loren is styling looks from Dressbar - she will definitely make you take a second look! I know I will be going back to try on this coral lace dress very soon!
Scroll down for detail shots and more photos...let me know your thoughts in the comments. Will you give Dressbar a look?
Dark jewel statement earrings, $14
Emerald stone earrings, $14
Crystal stud earrings
Faux pearl earrings, $12