Frugal Friday’s TPS Report: Pleated Zip Back Dress

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

Reader H emailed to suggest this dress, noting “This link shows it in the ‘Hot Orange’ color, which is very on-trend right now. It is made out of jersey and could be worn for a night or day event, but it’s definitely appropriate for work. I’m planning on wearing it (in black, with a jacket) to an event at the White House this week and to a rehearsal dinner next month! I’ve got some major hips and have trouble wearing traditional sheath dresses, but this one is so flattering. I’m usually a size 14, and I bought an extra-large.” It’s a really cute dress, and I can see it easily being a great summer basic. While I’m not sure I would wear a $25 dress to a White House event, a simple dress can be dressed up in so many ways that I can easily see it working — add some quality jewelry and a black blazer and you’ve got a winning high-low mixture. The dress is available in black, teal, orange, and grey for $24.99 at Target. Mossimo® Women’s Pleated Zip Back Dress – Hot Orange


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  1. @kat is there a panel beneath the open flap to avoid wardrobe malfunctions?

  2. It doesn’t matter what price it is, as long as the reader can style it properly. $25 can look like a million bucks if done right.

    • I agree with this generally, and I definitely agree with this about a White House or other DC event. A lot of DC events are full of public servants who are not paid a lot of money. The key there is for the clothes to look appropriate and stylish — not expensive.

    • I agree. When I got married, my sister wore a dress from Target, and my step-sister wore one from Forever 21. They both looked appropriate and fabulous.

    • Rural Juror :

      Agree! Does Michelle Obama wearing an H&M dress ring a bell to anyone?

  3. I think I’ve seen these in the store. If I’m thinking of the right one, it has a prominent black exposed zipper in the back–fyi.

  4. alterations question :

    Sorry for the early threadjack: has anyone ever had bra straps taken up? I found a bra that fits perfectly as is, but the straps are already as tight as they will go. My concern is that they will stretch with wear to the point that they fall down/get too loose. I’m hoping I could just take it to a tailor and have them make the straps a little shorter so that I have more freedom to loosen/tighten the straps as needed.

  5. SF Bay Associate :

    I agree with Kat – I cannot imagine being so lucky as to attend a White House event and wearing a $25 Target dress, let alone one with a shoulder-t0-bum exposed gold-tone zipper. Some of my clothes are Target, and they can be great for work, but the White House?? Inappropriate. I would not wear a cheap polyester dress to the top of any of our branches of government, and wouldn’t wear a dress with an exposed zipper ever. Sorry, H.

    • The zipper would be covered by the jacket though, and you wouldn’t be taking your jacket off at a White House event. So that part I don’t think is a concern.

    • I think your comment is a little harsh. As an MA student in DC, I often get invited to formal government events through internships, alumni, etc. and it can be hard to find something to wear. Not everyone has a lot of money to spend on expensive dresses whenever they want – some of us have very little left over after paying tuition, rent etc. I wish Reader H the best of luck in making this dress look amazing!

      • Amen. As much as I appreciate the “bargain” fashions every Friday, there are many professional women out there who cannot afford to lay down $300 for a work dress.

        • You know, it’s funny, but anyone can look good anywhere wearing a black sir and a white blouse. So why all the fuss about cheap slinky tangerine dresses?

        • Many White House events are cattle calls.

          Put a good belt with it, a jacket, and you’re good to go. Nobody is going to notice you because they’re all busy looking for the President and trying to steal the silverware.

          If you have a small event there you can bring out the fancy stuff.

      • Agreed; I wouldn’t object to the dress on its pricetag alone. The only unforgivable sin would be wearing it with those shoeties the model is sporting. I just don’t get open-toe boots.

    • I agree. The dress looks very comfy, and, if I could bring myself to enter the cluster**** that is my local Target, I might check it out. I like the jersey material, but I would never wear it to a White House event. I don’t know if that’s worse than wearing flip flops, but I wouldn’t dare. What would Michelle think?

      • I think she’d admire the wearer’s savvy shopping skills, frugal approach, and knowing how to suit her body. My sense of the First Lady’s fashion for this administration has been to wear things that the average American woman could she herself wearing, from the stores that the average American woman has access to.

        • Agreed. It’s pretty surprising to me that people still worry about the cost so much. It’s a great dress. Personally, I might take the opportunity to buy something special (meaning, expensive) but that’s just because I would like to always have a dress that is my “White House dress.” And because I can afford it. But I certainly wouldn’t judge someone else for wearing something less expensive.

        • For me, it’s not the price of the dress but the fact that it’s made of jersey material. For a blog that attacks women for having unintentional VPL, I’m amazed that people think that this dress, with the exposed zipper down the back, is appropriate for a White House event. Classy doesn’t necessarily mean sexy, but this dress, while nice for a picnic or a night at the bar, does not seem appropriate for an evening at the White House.

          • Totally agree. It’s not the cost that’s the issue, it is the lack of structure/jersey material/exposed zipper that make less than ideal for the White House. Based on the err-on-the-side-of-caution attitude by most on the side, I’m surprised so many think this choice is right on.

      • Michelle would think it’s a cute dress. That is, if she thought about it at all, which is unlikely considering that the First Lady probably has more important things on her mind than what some random person is wearing to a c—tail party.

        • Here here.

          And again, setting some arbitrary cost floor for attending the White House is simply ridiculous. Cost alone shouldn’t matter, the actual clothing should. And is there a rule against wearing jersey? Would commenters object to a DVF jersey dress?

        • Michelle sported H&M when her husband was on the campaign trail! I specifically remember a color block sheath dress — she swapped out the belt for one of her own higher-end pieces, and looked great. I’m sure it wasn’t much over $25 either.

          Cute dress, reader H. Accessorize and have fun at your White House event; you’ll look incredible!

    • While still in undergrad I was invited to a fancy New Years’ Eve ball at a very prominent country club where my boyfriend’s parents were members. I purchased a black and white tuxedo style strapless corsett top gown from SEARS for $35! I wore it with pearls, his mom’s diamond earings, and nice shoes I already owned.

      I honest to God had women in $3000 dresses coming up to me saying “oh my goodness, who are you wearing??? that is just an amazing dress. One lady asked, is that an (insert designer name here)? At the time I had never even heard of that designer. I think I said I was wearing something purchased from my home state but didn’t say where, implying it was an independent store.

      My boyfriend is now my husband and his family no longer is part of that club. It wasn’t really their scene. They to this day laugh about how all the women loved my dress and had no idea it was $35 from Sears!

      • Love this story! Well done :)

      • I actually had a similar experience when I wore a $20 Forever 21 dress to my first company holiday party two years ago. It was a knee length black sheath dress and the material didn’t look cheap in any way. I had people complimenting me all night. I actually wore the same dress yesterday with a pearl necklace to an important meeting and my boss told me I looked like a million bucks. I’m amazed that the dress has held up so well after two years, but it has. Cheap doesn’t necessarily have to LOOK cheap.

      • Awesome story. I completely agree that there’s are tons of reasonably-priced dresses out there that are flattering and polished, and tons of expensive dresses that frankly don’t justify the price.

    • Considering the First Lady wears dresses from H&M, I think you sound like a snob.

      I’m sure H will look great, and a jacket will make the dress completely appropriate.

      • No where in my comment did I say that wearing a dress from Target would be inappropriate. Your “snob” comment is way off-base. I don’t care if the dress is from Nordstrom, I don’t think jersey is an appropriate material to wear to the White House.

      • Not to mention the newest Royal’s taste for fashion certainly includes H&M fashions. And didn’t Sharon Stone make fashion history wearing a Gap t-shirt to an awards ceremony back in the day. I say go for it!

    • I think this assumes the reader is going to some fancy evening event at the White House. There are a lot of events at the White House with varying degrees of formality. While I’m not a fan of the exposed zipper (that trend needs to die, and fast, because otherwise I would totally buy this dress), I don’t think it’s necessarily inappropriate depending on the event and time of day (and who’s going to be at the event).

  6. I love the orange color, but not the black zipper in the back. I’d get this in the black color, though, very cute. And really, it’s pretty difficult for an observer to tell the difference between a $300 black sleeveless jersey dress and a $25 black sleeveless jersey dress, I think it would be fine for any occasion, if it fits well, and with the right accessories and shoes. The $25 dress probably won’t hold up (I bet the fabric will pill over time), but it’s going to look fine when it’s new. Wear it to the White House if you like it. We’re in a recession anyway, is it really appropriate to wear extravagent clothes to government functions? Haven’t any of you heard of the Pauper’s Princess, loved by the people of Britain for her austerity?

  7. I bought this dress in black and orange (which is really more coral than it looks in the picture) and managed to wear the two to about 6 different events of varying levels of formality on a single graduation weekend. I absolutely loved that they were basic enough to be paired with statement items like great scarves and shoes. However, I am 5′ 8″ and I will say that the dress bordered on showing more leg than I was comfortable with. Also, that flap. I had to be aware of holding it together in a breeze.

    • I have this dress in the orange and I’m absolutely going back to buy it in another color (or colors!). I wore it yesterday and got tons of compliments. I will say I can’t see wearing it without a belt or a jacket or a statement necklace, though.

  8. Did anyone else catch this story in the ABA Journal’s weekly email?

    Judge Warns Women in Skirts to Avoid New Courthouse’s Glass Staircase

  9. This is off topic, but its my PSA for the day —

    I recently discovered the Sally Hansen Insta Dry nail polish (I think Revlon just came out with one too) and it works wonders. It doesnt last real long (3-5 days is all I’ve gotten so far and its much better if you use the clear as a top coat) but it actually goes on and dries in minutes. you only need one coat and because it dries so fast, you can do it before bed, a shower, at your desk, whatever. I hate having messy nails, particularly before court, a client meeting, a dep etc, but with 2 small kids and 2 parents with biglaw jobs, i dont have the time for a mani every week. this is great.!

  10. If it didn’t have the black zipper, I would get it it in the orange color. It actually bums me out, because I’ve been looking for some fun, bright, not too expensive dresses for summer and this is otherwise the perfect dress!

    The black dress doesn’t have the way-too-obvious zipper issue, and is cute, but I have way too many black dresses already. Oh well…

    Has anyone tried this dress on?

    • I tried that dress on. It’s cute, but the material is pretty thin and it’s very blousy/shapeless. It would be great for hot summer days outside, but I couldn’t make it appropriate for my biz casual office (and I have plenty of casual dresses like this), so I didn’t buy it.

      TL; DR version: good for weekend, I couldn’t make it work for office.

      • I’ve tried it on and I agree with JJ. I didn’t end up getting it, partially because I’m still trying to figure out how thin of jersey I’m willing to wear in public without shapewear.

    • Yes, I have this dress in two colors. It’s fun for lounging around the house on a hot summer day, or for a night in with your SO, but I don’t really feel comfortable wearing it out for very long (as in, for more than car to door) and I definitely wouldn’t wear it to work. It’s very thin and the bottom is unlined, so it’s pretty difficult to avoid VPL and even bra band lines (it’s lined there, but I still had them–maybe it’s just me, but it was a little snug in the back with lots of extra room in front). Also, because I can’t fill out the top completely, it probablys gape inappropriately when I lean over. Even if I could fill it out, IMO the scoop is way too low for work.

      Like I said though, I have it in two colors, so I obviously like it, and I haven’t worn the black yet, so that may be better at hiding undergarment lines. If you’re looking for a casual weekend dress, it’s great for that! Just be aware you may need to wear your best VPL-avoiding bottoms and a seamless bra.

    • I bought it as a coverup/casual dress for a beach vacation. It was much too casual for work and the jersey is pretty thin so it definitely shows VPL unless you wear a thong. It’s great for throwing on over a swimsuit though to have a drink at the bar.

  11. Agree this is not appropriate for White House or other formal locations. Nothing to do with store/price. Everything to do with casual jersey fabric. T-shirt fabric = picnic or casual office. I’d never wear anything jersey to my corporate office or even when I worked in government. It’s not about cost- you can go to the outlet mall and get something lined from the Ann Taylor outlet or such. I’ve seen sheaths etc. for $35.

    I know it’s hot in DC.. was there for meetings last week… but I have a few woven cotton suits for the hot days that are still totally appropriate.

    • As noted above, jersey doesn’t automatically mean casual. You can get very nice jersey fabric in heavier (than t-shirt) weights that can look very polished. And for those of us that don’t work well in structured sheaths because our curves hit in weird places, those knit fabric that drape are often our go to look.

    • It’s not the tee shirt kind of jersey. It’s a synthetic fake of a silk jersy. It does not look informal or weekendish, except for the exposed zipper.

  12. Petite PSA

    The Boden fall line is introducing petite sizing. They are having a 20% off fall preview orders + free shipping at their site now. Very exciting!

  13. Random, but:

    I just wanted to rave about my migraine medicine. There have been several threads on this topic, so I wanted to highly, HIGHLY recommend Esgic Plus and its generics. I get the numbness, aura, disorientation, aphasia, and stabbing pain in my temples, and the Esgic Plus can tackle it within an afternoon (as opposed to 2-3 days). I managed to take it within about an hour of the on-set, so the effects took a little longer to kick in. But, if taken within less than 30 minutes of on-set, it usually kicks in pretty quickly. Make sure to take it on a full stomach, but other than that, I recommend looking into a prescription for it if you have migraine issues!

    • BarStudying 3L :

      Wanted to pipe up and mention Relpax, which is less popular in the US but available and MAGIC. I started using it when I studied in the UK about 5 years ago…it literally gives me relief in 15 minutes and lasts for 12 hours. I used to be down for the count for 2-3 days as well.

  14. It looks like Target has the same dress (or very similar) listed under the name “Exposed Zipper Dress” in more colors:

    The dress is cute, but I am not a fan of the exposed zipper. Any suggestions as to how to hide it (other than a blazer/cardigan)? I’m thinking maybe styling the dress with a long scarf worn to the back would camoflage it.

    • the zipper goes really far down the back of the dress. i think only a long-ish jacket or cardigan would work.

      • I think in the darker colors, the zipper isn’t so jarring. I guess if your office is casual enough to wear a dress like this, I don’t see the zipper as making it a no-go. I ordered it in the moss/dark green color, it was cute but for some reason made me look like I was wearing a toga. Maybe my shoulders are too narrow for it or something.

        • I agree the zipper doesn’t necessarily have to a a deal-breaker. I’d be more interested in seeing how substantial the jersey is. I’ll be checking this out in Target next time I’m in the States.

    • Get a strip of grograin ribbon in a matching or other color (maybe you like contrast but dislike zipper, idk), and have the ribbon sewn over the zipper, hiding it. Very simple fix.

    • Ooh, I love that look – a long rectangular scarf worn with the knot at the nape of the neck. Very french. It wouldn’t necessarily cover the zipper as you moved but it would be a distraction from it. Love it.

  15. Saw this dress at Target the other day and thought it was cute until I saw that the front really is just two overlapping leaves. That said, I thought it would be cute weekend dress, but I could not imagine wearing it work b/c it’s t-shirt material…and I work in casual central washington (wearing black tropical wool pants & a shirt from walmart today).

  16. I passed on the dress above because of the exposed zipper but I did just pick up this dress.

    Not the nicest or most formal dress I own but perfect for the next time the temps reach 100.

  17. Asos 10% off anything not on sale code: ASOSUPDATE11 . I buy nothing there not on sale so this is useless to me. :) Code only good today.

  18. Ms. Basil E. Frankweiler :

    I have this dress and while I love it, I have to disagree. This is not appropriate for work . The first things out of my mouth in the dressing room at Target was “I feel sexy,” and I would never wear something to work that made me feel that way. The material is very clingy and emphasizes every curve (and lump and bump if you don’t have Spanx on).

    After being such a Debbie Downer, I do have to say that I love this dress (aside from the flap issues). It’s so easy to throw on with a belt and some wedges. I’m definitely going back to get it in Rose and Black.

  19. Help needed from the Coprorette brain trust.

    I was asked this morning to write a LinkedIn recommendation for a friend/colleague who is out of work. I’ve known her for a very long time (like 20 years – swapped kids growing up stories, xmas cards, social parties, etc.). We only worked closely about 10-12 years ago and since that time I moved on (now successfully consulting in our field) and she also has had a few different positions/responsibilities, but we’ve stayed in touch electronically and occasionally run across each other at conferences and such. She made a number of enemies in our professional field through her micromanaging management style and while I still like her as a person, I cannot and do not endorse her professional capabilities any longer (and if I did, would damage my own professional reputation).

    I really don’t want to be a chicken and just ignore the ask, but it seems pretty cold to just say – “hey I still like you as a person but I don’t like the way you do your work,” especially when she’s out of work to begin with. Given her personality, I feel there is little chance I can be blunt with her without dealing a mortal blow to what was a long standing relationship.

    Any suggestions to dealing with this awkward situation?

    • Ms. Basil E. Frankweiler :

      I was in a similar position and I just told my friend that I don’t do recommendations on LinkedIn and left it at that.

    • gah – that would be “Corporette”

    • Have you written other LinkedIn recommendations for others? If not, is there any possibility your employer or one of your clients could “prohibit” or “discourage” this type of activity?

    • If others in the field would be “in” on it and know why you are writing a rec, can you describe her style truthfully but in an objective manner? “Very hands-on, detail-oriented, attentive supervisor”?

    • Maybe say that you think your relationship to her is more personal than professional, and you’re not comfortable giving professional recommendations for friends?

    • Could you say you aren’t comfortable writing a recommendation for someone with whom you worked so long ago?

    • Perhaps you could decline based on the amount of time has passed since you worked together closely.

    • The others here are on the right track, but I would just tell her like it is–i.e. that any recommendation you might write would have to include the fact that she is a micromanager, and this type of activity has gotten her into trouble in the past, but that if the employer is looking for someone who wants to stick their nose where it often doesn’t belong, she’s the one for the job. If after telling her this she still wants the recommendation, go ahead and write it. She probably needs any recommendation at this point so would be happy even if yours weren’t all peaches and cream. Talk to her and tell her like it is. You will sleep better @ night.

    • I’d tell her that you can only write the recommendation based on her job performance 12 years ago, since you haven’t worked with her since then, and therefore aren’t comfortable writing her the recommendation now.

      • Wish you’d weighed in a little earlier – I like the slight twist you’ve offered Eponine. My response to her was “While I wish you well, I’m not comfortable writing a LinkedIn recommendation because of the length of time that has passed since we regularly worked together.”

        Not that I expect one, but I’ve received no response from her.

        Thanks to all who offered their thoughts.

  20. Maybe it’s the photo, but it looks cheap to me.

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