Fall Shopping Guide: Slip Dresses

When Hedi Slimane took over at Yves Saint Laurent, he ruffled a few feathers and continued to do so back in February when he showed a very grungy fall collection. Perhaps it was not the most original choice (nor the truest to the house's legacy), but as we all know, fashion moves in 20-year cycles, thus making the time ripe for a full-on grunge revival--and making Saint Laurent right on top of the trend. Now, the rule with cyclical trends is that if you wore it the first time around, you shouldn't wear it the second. Back in 1993, I layered my slip dresses over baby tees (remember those?!) and paired them with Doc Martens; wearing that look now might as well be a Halloween costume called Marc Jacobs for Perry Ellis. The good news is that Grunge Part Deux is much more refined and luxe; the styles here are more suited to stilettos than combat boots. Grown-up grunge? It's like having your cake and eating it too.

When it comes to reviewing Saint Laurent collections, critics tend to play a game of snarkier-than-thou, but fashion politics (and maybe some questionable styling) aside, there are some very directional yet wearable pieces. Amusingly enough, this spaghetti-strap dress was one of the few items in the grunge collection that, critics noted, did give a nod to YSL. I think the flouncy shape (and ruffle) are very youthful and flirty, yet sophisticated in that singularly French way. Maybe Slimane knows what he's doing after all...

One of the tricky things about wearing a slip dress is that the wrong cut can end up looking like a sack, thus eliminating any straight-from-the-lingerie-drawer sexiness. I like this Rochas dress for its strategically placed seamed panels, slim (but not formfitting) shape, and warm but not-too-sexy color.  

Adam Lippes recently liberated his company from its former corporate parent, and as often tends to happen in similar situations (see Narciso Rodriguez), his work is better than ever. With its sheer neckline inset and body-skimming fit, this satin slip dress is the stuff fashion dreams are made of.

Haute Hippie is one of my go-to labels for going-out dresses; their lace-trim slip dress is the most overtly lingerie-inspired style here, but that actually lends itself to more adventurous styling--I'd wear it with a chunky sweater, opaque tights, and ankle boots. 

This James Perse plaid bias slip dress is the style most like what I wore as a teenager; in fact, I had a very similar olive green style. I included it here because it's more casual than most of the others, but it's also pretty classic and could read anything from preppy to punky depending on how you wear it. 

Of course, grunge doesn't have to be so literal. Leave it to Tracy Reese for a feminine interpretation of the trend; this beaded cowl slip has a fussier shape and intricate embellishment yet still captures that darkly glamorous effect. 

Remember that scene in Madonna: Truth or Dare where she goes to the movie premiere with Warren Beatty in a black slip dress and Fleuvogs with daisies in her hair? That outfit made a lasting impression on my then-teenage mind, because to this day, I would totally wear it. There is something so eternally cool--and chic--about a simple black slip dress, especially one with an open back, like Nasty Gal's Soft Cover embroidered slip dress.

Similar styling but a simpler back and a wider variety of colors mark Topshop's strap-back slip dress; I'm partial to the holiday-friendly red version shown here. The little inverted pleat and layered hem add a little shape, making this a more flattering option too.

As you might expect, Zara has all manner of slip dresses, some of which are pushing the $200 mark, but I like this very '90s printed style. It straddles the line between frumpy and sexy, which, if you ask me, is the true essence of grunge.


Anonymous said...

Heidi Slimane? Surely you mean Hedi Slimane.

Cheryl said...

Corrected. Typos happen to the best of us, particularly after a long day at work.

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