You Need This... I Promise

The Printed Dress

Ann in her backyard in the green version of our floral printed charmeuse Aba dress.

Anyone who knows me would hesitate to describe me as a “print person.” I think for the most part I would agree. But anyone who really really knows me knows that every once in a while I like to mix it up and go for something completely… un-me. My own daughter was surprised to learn that I was writing about this dress and these prints… her minimal mother in something so maximal? And they ARE maximal. I have been looking at the fabrics in this silky floral capsule for nearly a year — from concepts to fittings to photo shoots — so they are no surprise to me. But it IS surprising that I have not yet tired of them, and for me… that is the mark of a truly great print. 

There is a scene in the movie Tootsie, where Jessica Lange’s character, Julie, is describing a memory of her late mother guiding her through wallpaper selection for her childhood bedroom. I love it for its poignancy - but is also really good advice. Like many little girls, her character had wanted BIG purple flowers, and her mother explains why she would actually choose the one with smaller daisies and rosebuds. Her reasoning being — when you are looking at something day in and day out, you don’t want to tire of it. And I tend to agree – tiny prints usually ARE the sure thing. It is one of the reasons we are always scattering a handful of Liberty Fabrics in every collection… they do small-scale florals better than anyone. (In fact, when it comes to my own wardrobe, I usually go one step further with a solid color – the joke with our design team is “I’d love it in navy.”)

But when I think of all the fantastic ICONIC prints in interiors… so many of those instantly-recognizable ones are more like Julie’s “great big purple flowers” than not. We carry the magazine Frederic, published by Schumacher, the fabric house behind so many of those major famous prints. Leaping Leopards. Pyne Hollyhock. Hothouse Flowers. None of these are small or quiet in the least. My own house is done with mostly solids (are you noticing a theme,) but there are a few big, bold prints that I have not yet tired of. Toile de Jouy always and a set of throw pillows in a massive Pierre Frey floral print from the 18th century. Both relatively old patterns that have stood the test of time. A good print is not tiresome! We all still love Lilly Pulitzer from the 60s, don’t we? (Sid has scored a few great pairs of pants at thrift stores over the years.) And when I think of 1980s Ungaro, it is the graphic florals that spring to mind before the shoulder pads and shirring. In the past few years, the print goddess JJ Martin has made her mark with her La DoubleJ line… and I am not tired of those either. This season, I am having my own punchy print moment. And this capsule – especially the green – turns out to feel more Ann than anyone might have thought.  

This series of bright floral prints are dreamy in not just their intensity of color and pattern... but in their luxurious feel against the skin. They come in a silky, drapey charmeuse with the most incredible weight. Here comes the bonus: it is machine-washable. I am proud to say that it is because it is one-hundred-percent polyester. If synthetic is a trigger word for you (Lululemon would like a word,) how about technical? This is not your 70s-era Qiana. We are guilty of all kinds of fabric snobbery in our offices but I will tell you that there is nothing inherently low-quality or cheap about polyester. The silky charmeuse fabric used in this capsule comes from a very fancy mill in Italy.

But the reason I am digging this dress so much is not just because it’s easy to care for. It does something I have advised against in the past… and that is exactly why I like it.

I am often going on and on about how you want people to see the YOU behind your clothing. How it should be YOU wearing the clothes, not the clothes wearing YOU. The right pieces should enhance – but not overpower – YOU. Well, that is a lot of YOU. (Or rather, ME.) 

But sometimes I am tired of ME.  

And when I am tired of me… I kind of do want the clothes to lead. “That dress is amazing” may not sound so bad after all. In fact, it can be a bit of a relief. I can smile and, for the most part, keep my mouth shut – maybe offer up an “oh thank you, isn’t it great?” – and just float through the day (or night). Wearing a big, bright print gives me my very own “quiet time” since it is so loud. Dress as deflection, I suppose. And sometimes it isn’t my moodiness that drives me to a major print... it is my hurry. I have a party to go to in an hour and I need a sure thing. These powerful prints totally deliver. High impact, low effort, one decision (well… two if you count shoes), and done. Hair in a ponytail and I am out the door. The green is the one I am especially loving – not only for the tropical-feeling flowers but because the Aba silhouette happens to be one of my favorites. But now I am thinking I have to go back for the yellow, too. Just in case I get moody again. Something cheery to hide behind. You need this, I promise.

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