Tuesday’s TPS Report: Speckled Ink Dress

Our daily TPS reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

Today we’re liking this slightly unusual dress from Plenty by Tracy Reese, which, we think, is conservative enough to be worn to the office.  We like the wrap around the front, the high neckline, and the softness of the jersey.  For a more buttoned-up look, we might wear it with a structured blazer or cardigan — perhaps in white.  It’s available at Anthropologie for $158.  Speckled Ink Dress

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  1. The dress is gorgeous. But I definitely do not see this as a work dress unless the top is well covered with a cardigan/sweater/etc – and I take an extremely liberal view about what can be worn to the office.

    Beautiful and different look for going out, though!

    • Agreed. Not even remotely work appropriate but lovely.

    • I like as a dress for a work related cocktail party. The high neck makes it client/coworker/boss safe. The flowiness makes is evening.

      It’s hard to tell fromthe photo, is there beading on it?

      • Absolutely. Even though it’s in a professional grey color, the softness of the fabric lacks the authoritative business look one would expect for the office. It’s much more of an evening piece, and a beautiful one at that.

  2. Chicago K :

    While it may be a little too “stand-out-ish” for me to wear, I really, really like this.

    The top reminds me of a sari.

  3. Beautiful dress — Too… fancy? Out there? for the office though (especially since I would end up covering up the prettiest part – the top – with a cardigan since my office is typically freezing once the air conditioning goes on!)


    Actually, it’s hard to tell with the fabric, but I could almost seeing it being a “red carpet” dress.

  5. This has a hint of toga. Not good for work.

  6. LOVE!! It’s gorgeous. I probably wouldn’t wear it to meet clients, but on a “jeans” day at the office when personality and expression are a bit more appropriate, absolutely. It looks comfortable as well as beautiful.

  7. housecounsel :

    I absolutely love it. Would have to see in person to know whether I’d wear it to work.

  8. No likey the sweatshirt material. Wish it was David Meister/Anne Klein/DvF quality and material. I also think it would be prettier in a deeper, jewel color (teal, wine, etc).

    • I agree. It just looks to medical to me in this color- like it’s a big ace bandage or other wrap put on the model in order to dress some sort of wound or bind some rib/shoulder fracture. No thanks.

    • I love the color. Muted colors are very in right now, and as someone suffering from way too much bright/jewel tone overload, I am really, really glad.

      • You must have a tan. I look completely bland and washed out in the muted colors. I will be happy when the orange trend makes its way over here.

        • I have the same problem with pastels :-(

          Gray works on me… or maybe it’s that I really like gray so I’m willing to lie to myself? ;-)

        • No tan! Not all muted colors work (I wish). But a surprising number do (or at least I think they do) & I find they actually work much better than many jewel tones in warming up my otherwise wintry, pasty self (jewel tones just bring out the veins & highlight the paleness).
          I would recommend you experiment. Lots of grays & muted (darker but not dark) greens & blues look really great; same with dusty, darker pink.

  9. Gorgeous! Really chic and a great interesting twist to a work safe dress… consider it purchased!!



  10. I’m getting an injured shoulder/broken ribs vibe. Or one of those baby sling things. Even still, I think it’s cute and would wear it to a party.

  11. Lovely frock, but no way that’s suitable for the office, IMO. The open back makes it a deal-breaker.

    • Agreed. I think you could get away with the front of the dress because it’s gorgeous. (I love the purple version). But the low, open back makes it impossible to wear to work.

  12. Never bought anything from this store because I always associated it with a teen crowd. Am I wrong? I like the dress though, but probably not for work.

    • Anthropologie definitely is not geared toward teens. I’d say their target market is maybe 23-40. Urban Outfitters, which is owned by the same parent company, is the teenage/college version of Anthropologie.

      • I don’t understand how Anthro could be geared to anyone outside of college students and artists. To me, very little of their clothing is work appropriate. If I am going to spend $100 on a cardigan (and I would!), it can’t be filled with all kinds of cheap-looking metal, etc. Ugh, maybe I just don’t like Anthro…

        • Maybe you just don’t like them or haven’t been there (or on their website) recently. Of course they sell some things that aren’t work appropriate, but a quick glance at just the first page of sweaters shows several work appropriate options:





          I found an interesting article that states that 30-45 is their target demographic. Although, this was written in 2002 and I would argue that their target has skewed slightly younger now, maybe 25-40 or so. I can definitely see that the founder first created the store because his wife and her friends “grew out” of Urban Outfitters. I actually thought that it seemed like a grown up Urban before I knew the two were connected.


          • Sorry Kimbo, I didn’t see your post before I referenced the same article. Personally, I think that the age range stated in the article is still relevant. And I think that Kat has featured that first sweater.

          • Kimbo, I have recently been to Anthro with my highschool age cousin and one of the law clerks at my office. I do often see highschool and college age girls in there; if they have rich parents or are just smart with their money, I couldn’t tell you. But even though some of the sweaters you posted are probably work appropriate, they are not my style. As I said, I just don’t personally like Anthro, I think their clothing is overpriced, and I would not/do not shop there. No need to take it personally.

            And yes, I am surprised that their target demographic is an older age range because I just don’t think a 40 y/o woman would look good wearing many of the looks at Anthro. Personally, I lean more towards JCrew and Classiques Entier through Nordstrom.

          • Oh, and, that Fast Company article is fascinating. They state:

            “Ask anyone at Anthropologie who that customer is, and they can rattle off a demographic profile: 30 to 45 years old, college or post-graduate education, married with kids or in a committed relationship, professional or ex-professional, annual household income of $150,000 to $200,000.”

            And that basically describes me 100%, except I don’t have kids. So I think this just boils down to different tastes. I didn’t think my comment was passive-aggressive; I actually like this particular dress, though I could not wear it to MY office.

          • I got the cardigan in the last link at Urban for less than half of the price. I guess Anthropologie carries a lot of the same merchandise and just switches the label and prices up for the “older” demographic they are trying to target.

        • Interesting that you mention J. Crew, as I was recently there with a high-school aged family friend. I guess there are things in both stores that would work for a variety of ages.

        • They’re geared toward free-spirited, Bohemian types with deep pockets.

    • Are you thinking of Aeropostal instead? I always thought of Anthropologie as catering to 30-50 somethings.

      I love this for the weekends

      • No offense to anyone intended, but while there are some things that prove the exception, Anthropologie is definintely not intended for the 30-50 set (and I am not sure what is — that’s a wide range with different requirements, frankly).
        It is def meant for the 20s-early 30s crowd . . . or anyone who is into the idea of shopping at a french flea market but doesn’t mind paying a bit more to do it in a comfortable store environment instead (not intended as a dig, I shop there myself).

        • I see cute Anthropology pieces on blogs, but everytime I go in there, all I see are wrinkly, over-priced messes and I’m out the door.

          • Right, that’s what I mean. I’m definitely thinking of Anthropologie not Aeropostal, and everything there seemed really wrinkly, faded, and overpriced. Granted, I haven’t been there in a few years so maybe I should reconsider and stop by again.

          • i agree w/ this

        • Sometimes I am baffled at some the commenters who post things as though they are the ultimate authority. A Fast Company article states that Anthropologie’s targeted age demographic is 30-45, but there are probably people who fall on either side of the age range who shop there.

          As far as college students shopping there, maybe if they have a very well paying part time job or Mommy and Daddy who are giving them a very generous allowance.

          I shop there on occasion, but it’s usually for accessories, fragrances and stuff for my home.

          • Lynette, I’m not sure if my comment has shown up yet (it still says it’s awaiting moderation), so I’m not sure if this is in response to what I posted, but I was just offering a different perspective, not acting as though as I am the ultimate authority.

            I guess what baffles me is how passive-aggressively rude some commenters can be.

          • Ugh. My last comment isn’t posting; I apologize if both comments show up.

            But, I am not acting as though I am the ultimate authority nor am I acting as though the article I posted is the ultimate authority. I simply authored it as an interesting perspective on Anthropologie as a company. I thought the point of the comments was the discuss different perspectives, but apparently it’s not.

            What baffles me is commenters who are rude to others; what’s the point?

          • Kimbo, my comment was not directed to you.

          • Not sure if it’s worth responding but just want to point out (if your comment, Lynette, was directed to me) —
            1. I also agree that people often post things way too matter of factly (e.g.,’short pants flatter nobody,’ etc. — speak for yourself ;) )
            2. In making my comment about anthro’s demo skewing younger, I did not in any way mean to imply that there are not lots of cute things to buy there, if you are older. Just that — and this is only my opinion and experience in their NY stores — lots of the items cannot be worn with a bra or are short skirts/dresses, have lots of bows, etc., or are baby doll inspired, and it is my opinion that those items are geared to a certain younger demographic. Not to say there are not exceptions but just as a more general rule. Anyway, no offense meant to anyone, just thought I would save time by assuming that the statement would be understood more generally, but I will try to explain my thoughts better in the future.

          • one of the things i’ve learned on this blog is that people can get very quickly very rude about things that are important to them. doesn’t matter if it’s their favorite store, or african-american hair, or the choice to have children or not — people get sensitive and then rude when their most precious values are being attacked.

          • @ AIMS. I hear you about the “matter of fact” comments-we see them a lot here-and it’s kinda how your post struck me ( and it sounds like that wasn’t your intent). Normally I can just roll past them, but today they were just like “nails on chalkboard”. Just not one of my better days, I guess.

          • Lynette — I hope your night & the rest of your week is better.

  13. Love this dress! When don’t I love Anthropologie dresses? I agree that it would be prettier in a deeper jewel tone.

  14. I agree with the comments about it looking like an ace bandage. I tried this on at Dillard’s over the weekend – it was in black, which I liked better than the blue.

  15. It looks like a sari! Not an appropriateness comment, more of a, hmmm, continued globalization of fashion note:). I’d wear it, if I ever wore dresses, with a black jacket over and black shoes, pearls maybe, just to add conservative notes to balance.

  16. For those of you wonderful ladies who are more bottom heavy, any suggestions on good brands of clothing that work well for our figure? This dress actually looks like it could work because of the slight A line. Someone else on this site recommended Classiques Entier from Nordstrom, which I like too. Would love to hear any other recommendations, particularly for skirts/pants/dresses.

    • A-lines are the best for full-bottomed people like me. I love the look of the pencil skirt this season – but it is not my friend. I recently found a cute Alfani shirt dress at Macy’s that did a nice job of providing enough room at the bottom. Some of the Calvin Klein dresses have been working as well. I don’t know if there are any brands tailored for women like me; I think you just have to know what shapes work best on your body and look for those in your favorite designers. And hope that A-line skirts make a huge resurgence soon!


      • I love this! Does it wrinkle alot?

        • Definitely some wrinkles after sitting, as with any sateen or skirt, IMO, but nothing awful.

          • I ordered this; love everything, but the waist band is about 2 inches above my natural waist and the belt is too big. trying to decide if this can be fixed.

      • I bought a shirt-dress similar to this the other day and am about to return it. Something about the cut and material made me look like a rectangle — no waist, just straight down. And I’m more bottom-heavy. Never got to worrying about wrinkles. :-)

        • The belt on the Alfani dress helps with that a lot – emphasizes a smaller part before going out into the fuller skirt. That’s been my experience with shirt dresses – need a belt or something to isolate the waist.

      • ES – I saw this dress online and thought it was super cute! I also love the turquoise Alfani shirt dress at Macys but unfortunately they don’t have my size anymore.

  17. I think this is kind of strange. Definitely appreciate variety and checking out different ideas, though!

  18. Having just tried this dress on last weekend–it is a lovely dress, and soooooo comfy. The gray, and frankly, even the purple looks too sweatshirty for most offices. It also comes in a beautiful cream and blue speckle pattern that is maybe more workable. BUT: the jersey is very, very thin and has potential to cling around your stomach and rear. Unless you’re wearing an extra long cardigan or blazer, I am going to guess that most people would feel too exposed in their butt/hip area to be comfortable at work. But it is absolutely a beautiful weekend/evening dress–perfect for the humid weather we are already getting here in NYC.

    • Love, love, love when ladies who have actually worn an item review it like this. Thanks, k!

    • I’ve tried the blue/cream version on, and agree the fabric is quite thin.

      As a petite person who usually wears a women’s zero, I found this dress ran VERY small on top. I could not zip the bodice in a 0. I also found it a borderline length for work (well above the knee) so on a taller frame this might be even shorter.

      That being said, I would consider purchasing a size up, on sale, and wear it on a very hot casual day with a long enough cardigan.

  19. Love this, but not for work. I would have to try it on to see whether it looked like an ace bandage on me, though. LOL.

  20. Really like the design of the dress, but I do wish it came in a different fabric. When you zoom into the picture, it just looks too thin, too gray, too sweatshirt-y

  21. The top actually reminds me of my Moby wrap. (For the non-new-mothers out there the Moby is one of the hundreds of baby wearing devices out there.)

  22. I think this is a great day-to-night piece. Wear it with a cardigan or jacket and pumps in the office, and with strappy sandals for cocktails later on.

  23. divaliscious11 :

    Love this, but not long enough at 38″… good because I can’t buy it right now anyway!!!

  24. Very pretty, but it looks like there could come side-boob coverage issues even wearing a cardi or jacket, unless you buttoned them up and covered the pretty part. I might get it for the weekend, though!

  25. I love it, but wouldn’t wear it to the office. IMHO totally appropriate for a work event though.

    Also, can’t imagine wearing it with a blazer – it would just look too weird. Kind of like you were saying “I wasn’t sure this was office-appropriate, so I threw on a blazer.” I know others have mentioned this, but I really can’t imagine most of the dresses posted on here with a blazer – I think the blazer/dress combo is really hard unless they are a matched pair.

    • OK, just looked at it close-up. I think the t-shirt material and open back really makes it too hard to wear anywhere (and removes it from my work event category above.)

      I could see wearing it on a weekend, with fun jewelry and flat sandals, out to a trendy lunch spot maybe …. it’s probably actually very comfortable.

    • Agree — a cardigan might work — although I find that wearing one has an old lady frump effect (which doesn’t keep me from wearing them as an alternative to shivering in my office!)

  26. I love this dress. And, I think it really depends on how formal/casual your office is. I could definitely wear this to my office with a cardigan or blazer.

  27. I think a cardigan or blazer would ruin the appeal of this dress. Most of the design would be hidden, and you’d just be left with the unexplained appearance of your right b**b in a sling.

  28. This looks like either a Metropolitan Opera costume or bondage. Not appropriate for work, and certainly not on a jeans day. Once again I will say – you can’t cover up a bad choice with a cardigan or a jacket. Hey – we’re lawyers, not cleaning women!

  29. Anon, I agree. And, maybe I’m mistaken, but I was under the impression that this blog was not intended exclusively for attorneys. Also, I’ve noticed through comments here and through other channels, that law firms do tend to have a slightly more conservative dress code than some other professional offices.

    • No, this blog is not *for attorneys only*. But a lot of the women here seem to keep forgetting that. ( I just have a bee in my bonnet today).

  30. Love it. Not office appropriate, unless you’re in a creative field, maybe?, but great for weekend. I do wish Anthropologie was a tad cheaper, because I doubt I’m spending $160 on a weekend dress:-(

    • Especially one as unique (aka can only wear so often in a limited season) as this one :-(

      • yea. And I feel like all of Anthropologie’s clothes are like that, and yet all on the pricier side for casual/unique clothes. I really love anthropologie’s clothes, but I only own like one or two things because they’re really more than I want to pay for the situations in which I can wear their clothes. For example, I think this would be cute with jeans or shorts for the summer: http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/catalog/productdetail.jsp?subCategoryId=CLOTHES-BLOUSES-RUFFLES&id=013310&catId=CLOTHES-BLOUSES&pushId=CLOTHES-BLOUSES&popId=CLOTHES&sortProperties=&navCount=110&navAction=top&fromCategoryPage=true&selectedProductSize=&selectedProductSize1=&color=011&colorName=IVORY&isSubcategory=true&isProduct=true&isBigImage=&templateType=

        but I am so not paying $68 for a cotton tank, no matter how cute, when I bet I can get something similar at H&M for about $15.

        • Agreed. Whenever I go to anthropologie it seems like the clothes are TERRIBLE quality for the $$$ they expect you to pay.

          • Agreed. It seems like the quality is no better than Urban Outfitters at twice the price.

        • Agree — definitely pricey. I actually haven’t shopped in Anthropologie in a long time because I found (years ago) the clothing to be overpriced and, frankly, strange.

        • Yeah, Anthro is basically H&M/Target quality at J.Crew prices.

    • Oh, I can definitely see some of the women in my office wearing this dress.

  31. Does anyone else get the Anthropologie catalog? Anthropologie catalogs bother me in a way I find difficult to explain. Part of it is all the hipster-fantasy stuff, but it’s also the way they photograph the models so that sometimes it’s difficult to even see the garment. I remember one catalog that had a picture of a woman in a dress they were selling – the model was photographed swimming underwater, and you couldn’t tell what the hell the dress looked like, due to the cool artiness of the photo. I also think a lot of their stuff is straight-up overpriced, considering most of it looks like it came from a thrift store. You could just go to the thrift store, save $150, and actually be able to see what the clothes look like before you buy them.

  32. I like to look in Anthropologie. It’s like a thrift store/yard sale where everything is perfectly merchandised.
    I have gone home and looked through things that I got from elderly relatives and used them after seeing things at that store.

    For the money I prefer to buy things that are less frilly.

    As to the wrapped midriff on the dress: I had an Ann Klein dress with a similar styling and it didn’t work well with a jacket. The extra material around the middle plus the jacket made me look more thick-waisted than I already am.

  33. I like the dress, but I can’t see wearing it to work. Especially not a law firm.

  34. Thread hijack:
    I was wondering if any of you ladies in the San Francisco area could give me some tips on what to wear there in the summer. I am a law student and will be working at a small firm there this summer. I have heard it can get really chilly; is this a really common thing or just occasional? I have limited luggage/storage space so I am wondering how many sweaters to bring.

    Also, any general input on what kind of level of formality I can expect at work would be appreciated. I expect this varies pretty widely from office to office so I’ll be prepared with a range of things…Thanks!!

  35. Delta Sierra :

    Would make a nice guest-dress for a summer wedding.

  36. It’s always chilly in San Francisco. You will need a jacket every day. You will not go wrong wearing black every day. In the evening after work when you go out you will want a long (fingertip length) sweater.

    Incidentally, my grandmother was a cleaning woman with an 8th grade education. A very nice person, and an avid reader of Charles Dickens and Mark Twain. We are talking about how cleaning women dress. Mine does not dress well, does yours? Is your cleaning woman you role model for professional dress? Shouldn’t be.

  37. I’m really late to this thread, but just saw a photo of a woman wearing this dress here:

    Scroll down to the last picture. She loves the dress, and Sally can rock many outfits just with her style and confidence, but it certainly isn’t work-appropriate. The way it fits under her left arm shows too much boob-neighborhood skin for work. And the hem looks wrinkled and messy to me, with a droop on one side.

    Thought y’all might like to see it on a person who isn’t a professional model.