Reviews: Scalloped Shift Dress, Toulouse Embellished Shift, Amalie Dress, Starry Night Dress, Starshine Brocade Dress, Deryn Dress, Cavatina Maxi Dress

The Toulouse Embellished Shift ($178) had me seeing red — in a good way.

This reviews set should be subtitled Party on, Wayne. My last visit to Anthropologie was all about seeking out holiday party dresses. Inside, what worked and what left me unmoved.

Scalloped Shift Dress ($298) by Moulinette Soeurs, TTS
Style #: 29273083; pink (066)

Note: For sizing reference I am 34-29-38, size 6/M in dresses with a 34D cup. I am 5’8″.

The Scalloped Shift Dress ($298) has so much potential online. I loved the idea of a pale baby pink deco stunner. What you see is sadly not always what you get. The beads that look pale and pastel online are much more neon pink in real life. Suddenly this dress moves from deco glam to Vegas Strip. Not exactly the tasteful New Year’s Eve look I’m aiming for.

It’s too bad the beads are so bright and — I’m sorry to say — borderline tacky because this dress is well-made. Yes it’s polyester but each bead seems carefully sewn on with true attention paid to making sure the scallops are perfectly rounded half-moons. Under the arm some of the scallops are incomplete, but this is to make the dress hug your body closely so I’m OK with it. Each scallop also has a teardrop of bronze beading inside. The tank-style of the top is simple and perfect for framing a glitzy necklace if you so choose. In the back the dress comes all the way up to the neckline and I found the armholes were not too big. The bottom hemline is a cute line of scallops. The lining is just slightly shorter than the dress and is a light pink color.

Although the dress looks boxy on the hanger the lining is tailored on the sides to hug your shape nicely. It hit about mid-thigh on my 5’8″ frame, short but party-appropriate. The pink color isn’t too close to my pale skin which I appreciated, but the neon pink beading really jumps out and not in a way that I like. I don’t think I’d be as disappointed if Anthropologie’s online product shots were more true to color but not even the close-up thumbnail they posted captures just how bright the pink beading is. I’m wearing my usual size 6.

I’m wearing the Serengeti D’Orsays ($95, review) with this dress.

Here’s closeup:

I’m not even sure that these photos show just how bright the beading is. Trust me, it’s like a flashing neon sign against a dark night. Inescapably pink. Too bad because this dress is truly lovely. Beautiful and fits true to size, skimming the body perfectly. But the color is a total turn-off. Back to the rack.

Toulouse Embellished Shift ($178) by Moulinette Soeurs, TTS
Style #: 29418068; red motif (069)

Where the Scalloped Shift Dress missed, the Toulouse Embellished Shift ($178) nails it. This brocade shift wasn’t even on my radar from the website but stopped me dead in my tracks in-store. I was immediately enamored with the way the diamond texture on the shift catches the light like Christmas gift wrap and of course the shades of grey embellished neckline which is the ideal neckline ornamentation.

Anthropologie calls this dress a shift. I feel it’s much closer to a sheath. Yes the bottom hem flares away from the body slightly. But everything from neckline to nearly thigh is very body-hugging. In particular the bust-to-hip area is cut very narrow. I was surprised by how closely this dress sat to my stomach because the cotton-poly material is in no way stretchy or clingy. Somehow there was just enough room for my 34D bust, although the neckline portion was too big on me in my usual 6. (You can see in the far right shot above how the middle of the neckline is puckering slightly, sitting off my body.) There is zero chance I’d size down though as the 6 just made it over my hips. Ideally I think this dress is made for straighter body shapes, but there’s enough give to make curves work.

The dress hits mid-thigh. It passes the fingertip rule so I’d be comfortable wearing it to an office party. When you sit the midsection will crease and fold a bit, so beware wrinkles!

One oddity with this dress: the pockets.

There are slant pockets but they come sewn shut. I understand this is to give the buyer the option of leaving them sewn or opening them up. Personally, I wish they were decorative and not functional. The pocket itself sticks out a touch against my curvy hips.

No other complaints from me though! This dress is a beautiful color and tastefully appointed. In a few years when embellished necklines are done you can take them off and have a beautiful red brocade dress. This dress is on the top of my wishlist right now!

I’m wearing the Serengeti D’Orsays ($95, review) with this dress.

Amalie Dress ($248) by Alexandra Grecco, size down
Style #: 29584430; black (001)

Did Anthropologie kill off Made in Kind? That’s the vibe I’m getting as Alexandra Grecco’s designs were always part of a Made in Kind capsule. This dress is the Amalie Dress ($248) by Alexandra Grecco, and like all of Ms. Grecco’s dresses I’ve tried I think it looks beautiful but fits a little oddly.

This dress is silk organza with acetate lining. The bow is truly exquisite but will need some zzhushing (how the heck do you spell that word?) to get it looking like the model shot — in real life it’s considerably more subdued, though still lovely. Naming your dress Amalie is a great trick. That’s one of my favorite movies and right up there with the likes of Audrey Hepburn for style icons in my book! The dress is knee-length with a high back and a halter front.

As usual with this brand, I found the dress to run large. I’m in my usual size 6 for these photos and the bodice is huge on me. If not for the neck strap it would be falling off. I’d go down to a 4 to purchase. I’m pleased that the skirt is plentiful but not too voluminous. I am not pleased with the zipper which was painful and kept getting caught in its own material.

At the right party this dress would be a delight. It’s in the running for New Year’s Eve for me, so long as that damn zipper doesn’t get stuck. I can see myself in a champagne-induced stupor struggling mightily to get the dress off at the end of the night. For now, wishlisted!

Starry Night Dress ($148) by HD in Paris, size down
Style #: 30213847; black (001) or cream (012)

What a tease, Anthropologie. The Starry Night Dress ($148) looks nothing like the painting! Oh, the name is because it has little dots of metallic sparkle? Well, it’s really hard to see unless you’re extremely close to the dress in this black version, and I don’t see it at all in the cream version. Also, you’re killing me with the exposed zippers.

Anthro lovers have seen this dress before. Usually it’s by Ganni but this year HD in Paris takes over. It’s a simple fit-and-flare dress with a longer skater skirt that sits about an inch above the knee. A deep scoop neckline is backed by a high back and the waist is beautiful tapered in for a figure-flattering shape. It’s simple but that makes it fun to accessorize and dress up! This could easily be a day-to-night dress. And how fun would it be to pop colored tights on underneath?

I’m very itch tolerant but this dress really bugged me on. More scratchy than itchy, but uncomfortable all the same. The black version of this dress is considerably thicker than the cream. I’m not sure why. HD in Paris always runs large for me; I’m in a small here instead of my usual size medium.

The overall fit of this dress is flattering enough. But I can’t explain that price tag. At $98 or even $118 I’d endorse it, but at $148 I say wait for sale — if you can take the scratch factor.

Starshine Brocade Dress ($188) by Ladakh, TTS
Style #: 29100955; gold

There are things I love about the Starshine Brocade Dress ($188) and there are things that ruin it for me. It’s brocade! But it looks like I’m wearing wrapping paper. It’s fit and flare! But the skirt is way too poufy. The armholes are surprisingly large and the exposed back zipper is one touch too much. It’s such a pretty dress! But it might be one of those dresses that’s prettier to look at than to wear.

The overall shape is simple and structured. It comes down to just above the knee, while the neckline is high without being a choking threat. Black piping at the waistline, neckline and around the armholes are a nice touch. The pattern is somewhat like horizontal stripes on the skirt while the bodice is more free-form. It’s made from polyester with cotton trim.

Sizingwise I’m in my usual 6. That size felt right, but the skirt is just too big. The pleats are somewhat boxed out on the skirt I tried, but even with time and a warm iron I’m not sure I could get the skirt into the more conical shape I’d want. There’s too much material up around the waist.

So we have a gorgeous dress that looks somewhat like wrapping paper and is party-ready but a little poufy. Cute, but not right for me. Back to the rack.

Deryn Dress ($448) by Nanette Lepore, TTS
Style #: 28903623; blue motif (049)

Plaid tweed textured polyester. Meet the Deryn Dress ($448), where that unholy mix somehow comes together into a beautiful dress. It’s overtly playful with cartoon proportions and a short party length. But it’s also super cute and fun to wear!

The skirt borders on too big for me but sizing down is an option. I’m in my usual size 6 here which fit nicely but was a little loose everywhere, I think a 4 could have worked too. So if you try this dress and think it’s not quite right, try a size down too. I realize the pricetag makes that prohibitive if you’re ordering online; I think most people will be comfortable in their usual size.

This dress has winter evenings out written all over it. I’m thinking ahead to January and my birthday. I’ll be in Costa Rica for the actual day…but for the NYC party this dress might be just the ticket. There’s a Nanette Lepore sample sale here in Manhattan next week. I think I’ll head over and see if this dress is there. Otherwise, on my Anthro wishlist!

In this review I’m wearing an old J.Crew layering necklace and the Floral Hayden Pumps.

Cavatina Maxi Dress ($148) by Bordeaux, TTS
Style #: 29313350; moss (031)

A basic maxi is made trendy thanks to some vegan leather (pleather) elbow patches. This is Bordeaux’s Cavatina Maxi Dress ($148). I felt like a schlump in this dress, though it’s getting rave reviews online. I was pretty bummed. Moss is an excellent color to draw out my hazel green eyes and I totally dig the knee-length side slit on the skirt portion.

The issue for me is fit. I need a small in the bodice and a medium, possibly a large, in the skirt. The top portion was too big on me in my usual size medium. It’s especially noticeable in the shoulders. But the skirt just fit over my hips. So the top is draping too far over the waist and I end looking like a rectangle instead of the hourglass I am.

This dress seems promising but not workable for me. I took it off and sadly sent it back to the rack.

Have you tried on any of these dresses? Which of Anthropologie’s party dresses are you excited about right now?

Looking for Something?