Splurge Monday’s TPS Report: Red Silk Belted Cap Sleeve Dress

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

Kay Unger red silk belted cap sleeve dressLove this deep red dress from Kay Unger.  Love the cap sleeves and the material (a woven silk, which won’t wrinkle quite as easily as plain silk), and we like the little lapels on the neckline of the dress.  It’s part of Bluefly’s extra 10% off sale going on today — so it was $375, then marked to $224, but for today only it’s $201.60.  Nice!    Kay Unger red silk belted cap sleeve dress

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  1. I love Kay Unger dresses. They tend to be low cut though so get the camis ready.

  2. I like this dress by itself, but hate the belt – it doesn’t feel like it goes with the dress at all!

    • I had the same thought! The seaming at the top is very interesting and pretty, but it seems like adding the belt makes it all a little too busy.

      • Agree as well — there’s something disconcerting about the delicate silk material and the heavy belt…

  3. “Lucky” size 10 only

  4. I need some help from “C” readers! I have my dad’s retirement party on Friday afternoon. He was a principal so the guests will be the teachers in his school. I had planned on wearing an Ann Taylor dress but my mom said that is too formal. The party is a luncheon at a restaurant. Does anyone have some good “sundress” recommendations? I want to still be professional but professional “fun” and not stuffy.I am totally at a loss!!

    • I don’t know what your area is like, but in my area teachers often wear jeans to work. It’s really not a formal profession. If you go in with an Ann Taylor dress, you will be over the top for sure. I probably wouldn’t wear jeans to the party, but anything else will be fine.

    • I’d think anything you’d wear on the dressy-casual side on the weekends would be appropriate. My mother has worked in public and private schools in NY and Ann Taylor is definitely much “more” than a typical teacher would wear.

    • I think the key question is who you want to impress. I think the answer is your parents. (I assume the other teachers aren’t your professional colleagues, so you have no reason to care what they think of the details of your dress.) Can you ask your mother what she’s wearing?

    • J.Crew’s sundresses tend to be less structured-looking (I’m picturing one of the dresses from that beachy collection — here is the strapless one: http://www.jcrew.com/AST/Browse/WomenBrowse/Women_Feature_Assortment/catalogjcrewcomexclusives/dresses/PRDOVR~24356/99101955791/ENE~1+2+3+22+4294967294+20~~~20+17+4294967101~15~~~~~~~/24356.jsp)

      Summer sale is also now an extra 30% off — so this dress would only be about $40.

      • whoops – above was me, and the link seems to only go to the j.crew home page. The dress I linked to was the “Solid embossed Lorelei dress”.

    • What about a skirt and shirt? I’m thinking something like a more casual skirt (maybe a linen one?) and a nice looking t-shirt with some fun jewelry.

      I think something like that would be right between dressy and casual.

    • I’d go with something with a print, which always seems a little more casual to me. Alternatively, something like a shirt dress: Loft has one that’s sort of like what I have in mind: http://www.anntaylorloft.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=25964&N=1200007&categoryId=211&pCategoryId=3359&Ns=CATEGORY_SEQ_211&Nty=1&No=15&loc=TN&defaultColor=Crisp%20Khaki&defaultSizeType=Regular#

      I concur that a lot of teachers don’t dress up much, although most in my mother’s school district don’t wear jeans.

      Another option you might consider is a skirt-and-tee option, which is still somewhat professional, but also fun.

    • My mom is a longtime teacher, so I’ve been to several of these types of events over the years — teachers typically wear slacks (many schools don’t allow jeans…even though they’re dealing with paint, markers, etc. at the younger grades).

      If it’s an elementary school, go more casual than if it’s a high school (no messy art materials means they wear khakis, skirts…). Anne Taylor frankly is more than most teachers can afford – so think pencil skirt, and polo shirt, or another casual outfit. No jeans. I would ask your mother what she’s wearing and go from there.

      • Thanks everyone for their quick suggestions! I just bought the vappu dress from anthropologie. Adorable and perfect for a hot Friday afternoon (I live in NYC and that’s where the party will be). :-)


      • I think you’re wrong about AT being more than most teachers can afford. Most of my teacher friends shop there and Loft almost exclusively, and when I was teaching I bought a lot of my clothes at those places as well. AT has a great teacher discount and sales especially for teachers. They won’t go with the more formal clothes, but the business casual stuff is great for work.

        • Not sure where you’re located, but in my area teacher salaries range from $40K to $60K (excluding extra degrees, administrative positions, etc.) genenerally – so I know that the teachers my mom works with are not spending $70 – 100 on a dress on a regular basis, when they work with kids likely to smear it with paint… Of course, at an older grade, that’s not an issue generally (which I indicated in my original response).

          Of course, the fact that your friends buy clothes there does not mean they can easily afford them – they may well be making large sacrifices to do so.

          • The starting salary for an attorney working for the state of Florida is $39,000. Most of my friends in teaching reached that salary at year 2, so there is a lot of parity between teaching and government attorneys in this state. The pay here is abysmal in most areas outside of S. FL and still the stores stay open. People just learn to manage their money differently than they would if they lived in another area where people may spend more on eating out or other items.

          • I’m in NJ – much higher cost of living (I found out my cousin just bought a 3 year old 3 bedroom, 2 bath house in FL… for $80K. As in that’s the whole thing… his mortgage payment is less than most people’s car payments… yes, more than a little envious)

          • So where should the people who make $40,000-$60,000 be shopping?

          • Per my mom – a teacher – most of her colleagues tend to stick to JC Penney, Kohls’, TJ Maxx/Ross/Marshalls/etc., New York & Company (the younger women she works with LOVE that store)

          • I have to say as a corporate type making that range and living in the New York metro area…I shop at Ann Taylor and Loft a lot, and would continue to shop there if I was teaching either junior high or high school. Maybe not elementary school, but definitely the upper levels.

            Loft isn’t that much more than JCP for dresses that last at least as long, and are better constructed.

          • Amanda – Just took a fast look at both stores.

            Anne Taylor Loft dresses range from $40 to $100, with only four available for less than $60.

            JC Penney dresses range fro $18 t0 $90 – Over 200 of their 350 dresses are under $50.

            Not the same prices at all.

          • My takeaway: Not all teachers shop at AT or AT Loft, but some do.

            I suspect that a lot of factors go into this decision besides just salary and COL (such as whether there are student loans to be repaid, a second household income, how much of her disposable income the teacher in question wants to spend on clothes, etc).

            Can we move on now?

          • I have to say that the whole idea of job title dictating shopping choices is totally absurd to me.

            As we discussed here countless times, everyone’s situation is unique. I have friends making 6 figures who can barely afford to shop anywhere b/c they have so much in student debts & living expenses (mortgage, kids’ tuition, etc.). Other people — working, e.g., as teachers — have more disposable income b/c they have no loans and low cost of living, or a spouse who takes care of expenses, etc. My mom was a teacher when I was growing up & her salary was her “pocket money.” My dad took care of the household expenses. The idea that anyone would say teachers should/shouldn’t be able to afford to shop anywhere (esp. what is essentially a mall store, commonly found across the country . . . not exactly talking Barney’s here) is ridiculous ( I actually primarily think of AT Loft as a “teacher store” . . . I could not wear that many flower applique items to my “lawyer” job).

            Not only that, but I think the whole thing of “dresses here cost X” is silly & uninformed — I shop mostly at stores I could never afford at full price, but I shop their sales. Yes, someone could probably tell me that w/my salary & loans, I should be bying the Tahari brand suits at Macy’s, and not the Brooks Brothers suits that I get. But, the dreck from Tahari costs about $250-300 at Macy’s full price, and a well made BB suit costs about $280 at their semi annual sale (w/my corp discount card) . . . So, I guess, my point is that it’s all about personal choices. To say that teachers shouldn’t or can’t shop at AT Loft is silly at best . . . and much worse, at worst. At least in my opinion.

          • Did not say anyone ‘should’ or ‘should not’ – was responding to the question, which was about what other teachers at the event were likely to be wearing.

            Hope everyone got that context…

          • Loft has ridiculous sale racks. When there was one near me I’d go just for the sale rack – everything goes there within a few months and they have markdowns of over 50% sometimes. Not weighing in on the teacher thing (no dog in that fight), but when I was a college student with a job in a law office Loft was often a cheap godsend…also their stuff is usually much cuter than comparable price point at JCP.

    • Capris (in a primary color please) and a denim jacket with something embroidered! I have just the outfit!

      A friend of mine (is crazy and) has decided she wants to teach school. To get her school year off to a great start we had a “dress like a teacher” party – some of the get ups were so funny, so awful, and so true.

      ** note: No aspersions toward the profession of teaching nor to wearers of capris or “theme” clothing were intended. Laugh, delete, or move on.

      • haha… my mom – who is a teacher – cringes at the typical teacher wear- things w/ apples and appliques, and jumpers (I have no idea where they get these things from, but whenever I’m at her school to have lunch w/ her or pick up/drop off something, there’s at least one woman w/ an embroidered sweater for the holiday of the month and/or a jumper…or both)… Let’s face it, when you spend most of your day w/ 9 year olds, ‘dress to impress’ has a different meaning!

        • North Shore :

          I was on the board of directors for my local library, and the librarians all joke about the typical “librarian” outfit — apparently something from Chico’s plus sensible sandals. They said it’s hilarious at library conventions when everybody shows up in the same type of outfit. And I don’t say this to be snarky — I love librarians! And if you don’t need to wear a suit or heels for your job, I can’t imagine why you’d wear them.

          • How about a simple wrap dress?

            PS – cannot believe how quickly the question on ‘what to wear’ quickly transformed into an entire analysis of teachers’ pay & shopping behaviour. Jeez!!

  5. Very pretty, but not for the large of chest.

  6. Clicked thru to Bluefly. Cannot believe I’ve never shopped there before! It is taking almost a superhuman amount of willpower not to break out the credit card.

    • Ex-3L Sarah :

      If you sign up for their mailing list, they have private sales every so often for you. :-)

    • Bluefly always sucks me in. Great designers, great prices, and something for every one. I buy a lot of my dresses from them. Returns are easy.

    • Bluefly is great. I’ve always loved that they send you a shopping bag with your items, so you can carry them home. Such a nice touch.

  7. Love the color and I think it could be worn year round. Only problem is that I think this would cut my bust in half (the empire waist would fall too high on me).

    • I ordered b/c I think its beautiful and I love work dresses…I have a decent sized chest (DD) so not sure how the seaming will work, but I have other Kay Unger dresses that fit my fairly curvy figure well — and they are knits that in a lesser brand could look cheap. So…fingers crossed!

  8. love . . . love . . . ordered.

  9. PSA for Corporettes: someone mentioned the J.Crew sale above — I just surfed over and picked up a wool skirt suit for about $150 total (extra 30% off and free shipping)…great sale, with some nice wool suiting options included that haven’t been on sale previously.

    • jcrew site is loading….very…..slowly…..

      • I had the same problem — I think we’re probably all overloading it in pursuit of sale suits! ;)

    • I am drooling over some of their open-toed shoes on sale. http://www.jcrew.com/AST/Browse/WomenBrowse/Women_Special_Sizes/size512shoes/size5/PRDOVR~20343/99101876258/ENE~1+2+3+22+4294967294+20~~~20+17+4294966939~90~~~~~~~/20343.jsp

    • shoot, they had one i loved and have the jacket in my size but not the skirt. I hate it when that happens (and in brown, too, which I feel like I always have a hard time finding, and I love brown suits)

  10. You are a terrible enabler. I saw this in InStyle and resisted, but I caved once I saw the discount.

  11. When you are going to be with teachers during the day,which I do a lot, a skirt and shirt or pants and shirt will always be right – no matter where you are.

    Todays’ dress – I find that that type of seam right under the bustline has to hit you exactly right (and often doesn’t) or it just will not work. Also I hate the belt.

    I don’t understand what is meant be “woven” silk. Isn’t all silk either woven or knit?

    • “I find that that type of seam right under the bustline has to hit you exactly right (and often doesn’t) or it just will not work.”

      I have returned two dresses lately that fit everywhere but the bust – each dress had this same type of seam and on me the seam did not go under the bust, it went across my chest right at nip-level. Not attractive. The only other option was to pull the top of the dress way down, which was uncomfortable, hiked the dress up in the back, and resulted in some seriously-work-inappropriate cleavage. I am a D-cup so maybe just too much chest to make this type of dress work? Or maybe I need a different bra. Would be interested to hear if other busty girls can wear these high-seamed dresses.

      • I find that this problem happens to me if my boobs are bigger than normal (eg if I am nursing or newly pregnant, my boobs go up to an E or so). If my boobs are smaller (B or so) then empire dresses fit as they should, the seam is in the right place etc.

      • DD cup here, and I just can’t wear these types of dresses. I have a couple I got from Bravissimo though- their clothes are sized by regular dress size and cup size, so some of these styles work better for me. (but usually not things I’d be wearing to work)

        • I do not wear anything with seaming below the bust (empire style), regardless of what happens with the fit below the seam, for exactly the reasons you mentioned. I have had my heart broken too many times by cute shirts and dresses where the seams end up right across my chest, rather than under it.

  12. fabulous dress! But I always worry that silk is too clingy and requires some serious foundation undergarments. That, dear readers, is what Spanx is for (for whoever asked about it last week)

  13. Chicago K :

    I just surfed over to Ann Taylor to take a quick look, and noticed that they have a page stating they give a 20% discount to students off full priced items with a student ID. I had no idea, and am actually a graduate student!


    Has anyone used this discount and if so, did AT give any thought to the ID being from a graduate school?

  14. i have heard that club monaco gives a discount with a student ID. Not sure if it was a promotional thing, or if it is year round– i’ve never tried it.

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