Bought and Loved: Free People edition

A summer dress that’s equally eye and wind-catching. Free People’s Wrap Top Maxi Dress ($326).

There’s a place that lies somewhere between reality and fantasy, where the things I used to think adults wore as a kid were actually made. That place would be Free People which seems to specialize in catering to my boho-maxim and forest fairie dreams. Although much of what I love there doesn’t work on me, it’s still so fun to adore their stuff. And occasionally I hit the jackpot where multiple items I like do work and my closet’s all the freer for it.

Before we dig in, I hate to start with a complaint but here it is: Free People’s website redesign is gawd awful. Once the class of the Urban Outfitters website field (Free People, Anthropologie, BHLDN, Terrain and UO are all part of the same company) the usability of the FP site has gone terribly backwards.

Among my issues:
– I get errors constantly when trying to upload photos to the FP Me gallery (and I notice so many products with no FP Me photos now, which is strange).
– Every section is paginated now which is a frustrating choice in the age of the endless scroll. Who wants to page through 31 pages of dresses???
– Wishlists are paginated now. This is as pleasurable as having my eyes scratched out.
– Product image thumbnails now lie below the main image, which is too tall for most laptop screen resolutions. Headache-inducing.

In short, it’s kinda exhausting navigating the Free People site now and that makes me sad. I truly hope they rethink the design from a usability perspective, because it’s much much harder to use than their previous site. It doesn’t diminish my love of the brand but it does deter me from browsing and ordering as much.

All that said perhaps this post is more important than I thought! Before you get lost in the sea of pages upon pages of product, here are some wonderful Free People highlights…

The Back Yard Party Printed Tunic ($108) is longer in real life, and also looks great over shorts.

Let’s begin in the dress section. I like to peruse Free People’s dresses for date options as well as vacation wear, and they’ve got plenty of options for both right now. The Wrap Top Maxi Dress ($326) topping this post was a surprise win for me! In real life the breast coverage is better than the model shot implies. I go back and forth between wearing a pretty racerback bra with it (this one or this one, specifically) and a bra that hides (like this one, in conjunction with this low-back extender). I took an 8 in the dress.

On the other end of the dress spectrum, several of Free People’s mini dresses have my heart. I purchased the Back Yard Party Printed Tunic ($108, above) in the midnight combo shown, and am strongly considering the ivory gardenia combo too. It’s asymmetric with a very short hem on one side but still doable for nights out as a dress. (It’s longer on me than on the model, I am 5’8″.) And for day, it’s easy to throw on a pair of cute shorts underneath for a day-ready look. The Carys Yard Slip ($88) was similarly a delightful surprise, being long enough on me in the blue striped version to come home as a scorching summer day dress.

A few other short dresses that have my eye include the Beaux Slip ($88) and the FP One Sumia Mini Dress ($128). I like the idea of the Walking Through My Dreams Dress ($108) but only if the bodice crosses as the black version shows — it’s so unclear with the two colors looking so different!

For dates, the Alexandra Dress ($168) is so much more appealing to me than most off-the-shoulder dresses because it has a lovely defined waist! None of this boxy ruffled stuff. Very nicely done, FP. I’ve tried on the emerald print version and found it flattering in my usual medium but have not pulled the trigger on it yet. Other great date options include the Cross My Heart in Lace Tunic ($108, size down) which I own in the white and wear over a white slip for added length, and the She’s Got It Slip ($88, size up) which was my very cherry red Valentine’s Day dress in Cozumel this past winter. I took a small in the tunic and a large in the slip.

Free People’s bra selection is amazing. 
Even no-wire bras like the Eden Eyelash Racerback ($96) tend to have decent support.

I love Free People’s intimates assortment, especially their bras, for so many reasons. They offer tons of sizes compared to other specialty retailers and their designs are just delightful. Plus, they work under all the tough-to-wear-a-bra-with clothing they make. Thank goodness!

Some of my favorites have already been mentioned in this post — here are a few more. For good underwire support and nice cup shape, I love the Daydreamer Underwire Bra ($48) and matching Daydreamer Hipster ($28) — the eggplant combo is my favorite, along with the black combo. I take my usual size 32DD in the bra and a large in the panties. The Crochet V Wire ($48) is another great, supportive yet pretty bra and so is the Lace Plunge Underwire ($48), I take a 34DD in this first and a 34D in the second.

Even the no-wire bras or bralettes can be decent support, and more importantly work under t-back or open back tops. I love the Galloon Lace Halter Bra ($38) and Galloon Lace Deep V Bra ($44), both of which look so pretty under tops and dresses and both run large — I take a small in both. The Truly Madly Deeply Halter ($38) is supportive yet easily concealable, thanks to its adjustable t-back. I wear a medium in that one.

The Top Down Aviator ($25) — designer look at a much more palatable price.

One final area where Free Poeple is killing it? Sunglasses. While I love the idea of designer shades, I’ve seen enough lost and forlorn Chanel, Dior, and the like sunnies left in taxis to know that I’d be a fool to drop anything approaching $500 on a pair. $20 or so seems much more doable. Free People’s got cute ones like the familiar-looking Mystic River Sunglasses ($25), the super fun Wild Gift Sunnies ($58) and the perfect Love Is Blind Aviator ($25), all of which have designer feel at discount price. These are all in my closet and get worn on a rotating basis of happiness. Super well-done, Free People!

What have you purchased and loved recently from Free People?

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