the cure for Reformation dress fatigue
extolling the virtues of the occasion wear set
Graduation and summer wedding season is around the corner. This weekend, I asked you about your occasion wear gripes on Instagram and there were some resounding themes:
pressure to buy something “suitable” for an event that does not fit into personal style, so it feels more like a costume and not a part of your wardrobe
difficult to get the right fit, alterations often needed
I can relate to all of the above. When I think of an occasion dress, this is what pops into my head…
floral fuschia emerald ruby satin cowl neck polyester bodycon slinky weird cutouts
AKA the Reformation dress. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate Reformation (there are some sleeper hits on their site if you browse with a selective eye, and this one is quite cute…or is it just because it’s on a model with Jane Birkin hair??). It’s more what their brand and business represents: the $200 marked-up poly blend party dress has become the go-to option for occasion wear. I too wore a Reformation dress to a wedding a few years ago. It was midi length slip dress, black with white polka dots. And honestly…it was horrible quality. My personal style was still developing. In hindsight, I wore it because it seemed like the socially expected thing to wear.
Which got me thinking about the set. A matching top and bottom is an unexpected and refreshing cure to Reformation dress fatigue. Reasons why:
A set is composed of a top and a bottom, which opens up your styling options. You don’t have to wear a dress. If you want to wear a blazer or suit jacket, it will look beautiful with a tailored pant.
Expands the fabric options. I do believe there is a time and place for polyester. Some garments require a poly blend to hold a certain shape. However, is it true the occasion wear market is absolutely saturated with cheap polyester that’s thoughtlessly designed.
Blends in better with your actual personal style and opportunities for wear beyond an event. A fancy top can be dressed down with jeans and boots, a fancy skirt with a tee and sneakers. You’re buying something that makes sense for your style identity.
If you are shopping on a budget, consider buying only a top or a bottom, and then match it with something in your closet that makes it look like a “set.” For example, if I really want baby blue silk trousers I’ll buy those, but then match it with a top in my closet that’s either the same color/tone, or the same fabric/texture.
For an upcoming graduation ceremony, I am planning to wear a silk taffeta set from Chelsea Mak in a pink gingham check that I’ve styled before in separates.
However, if I were looking to buy a set, below are 5 options that I wholeheartedly adore, with styling suggestions.