Wednesday’s TPS Report: Split Neck Stretch Cotton Sheath Dress

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

Split Neck Stretch Cotton Sheath DressReader J wrote to us with a question about the plus-sized version of this dress: “What do you think about this? Sometimes its hard to know how it would drape but I think (from the picture) that it has good structure.  I think I really like the print and am 5’10 so I can usually pull a print off. But at the same time I also kind of hate the print/think it could look ugly.  What do you think?  Could I get away with this at work, is it ugly?”  We agree that prints can be very case-by-case — one print will look great on one girl, but hideous on another — and florals are a big trend right now, so this is something we should talk about.  Here, we like the more abstract nature of the pattern, as well as the strong emphasis on dark brown and purple — for the office, we would focus on picking up those colors in a cardigan or blazer.  As always with Donna Ricco, we do love the structure (all of our DR dresses are slimming and comfortable, but without the need for massive shapewear).  You can get it at Nordstrom for $118 (in regular sizes) or $128 (in plus sizes).  Donna Ricco Split Neck Stretch Cotton Sheath Dress

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Readers, what are your thoughts on wearing florals to the office?



  1. “I think I really like the print and am 5′10 so I can usually pull a print off.”

    Is there a correlation between height and ability to wear print that I am not aware of?

    • Conventional wisdom is that large prints overwhelm a smaller frame, whereas smaller prints are better on a smaller frame.

      I am not sure how universal this is though. It’s much more about proportion and balance, if you ask me. So I think smaller prints can work on larger frames, and vice versa, just maybe not head to toe. But then again I think a head to toe print on anyone is liable to just make the wearer look like a couch, so I wouldn’t go for it either way.

  2. Don’t know if I could pull this off (I am 5’4″; 115 lbs) but think this is GORGEOUS!

  3. that pattern is FUG.

  4. I think that this is lovely. And what fun I would have finding shoes to coordinate.

  5. So hard to buy plus sized clothes without some gawd-awful print. So many of the fabrics look like bad draperies. The one positive to this dress is the structure and cotton is always better than synth-yuck.

  6. I really like this dress also, although I would definitely wear a blazer over it to tone it down at work (or a cardigan, belted, if it was Friday).

    • Only black would tone this loud dress down. I would not pick up the dress’s colors in a cardigan or blazer as C suggested.

      • Agree.

      • Well, I meant black or charcoal/brown for winter and maybe a white jacket in the summer. In Florida, you can sometimes get away with brights/white depending on the season or on Fridays.

      • A color coordinated cardigan would just make this look like someting out of your grandma’s closet (actually my grandmother dresses more fashionable than that)

  7. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I get tired of prints like this very quickly, which makes me incredibly reluctant to buy a dress like the one pictured. I think work clothes (particularly dresses/suits, not nec. tops) are best when they are a bit more simple/classic so that you can wear them in lots of different ways, without feeling like you “just wore that.” I feel like I would maybe wear this dress 2-3 times, max, and then never want to look at it again, ever.
    I understand the urge to wear “interesting” clothes to work to break the monotony of the corporate uniform, but I think — at least for me — there are better ways to do it than something like this head to toe (I feel this to a lesser extent with wrap dresses that have bold prints, but that’s probably because I wear wrap dresses in my non-work life so the dresses get more wear overall, whereas something like this would make me feel way too matronly to wear outside of work). I do like the silhouette — I bet it would be very flattering. Now, if it came in a solid . . . ;)

    • I hear you. I like to be able to mix and match my work pieces but my wardrobe is small so I tend to buy relatively plain, solid basics that will stand the test of time. I use accessories to vary things a bit. I would hesitate to buy a dress like this because I think it is very memorable and I wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing it very often for that reason (whereas I’m sitting at my desk in the same navy dress I wore last week, different shoes and jacket, and I doubt anyone would remember that I wore it last week).

      • That’s exactly it! There’s a woman at my office who wears a big floral print skirt once every 2 weeks, and I can’t tell you what she wore on any given day (usually very conservative suits) and then she wears that and it’s like, “oh, today is floral skirt day!” (not that there’s anything wrong with an occasional “floral skirt day” ;) )

        • I have one of those in my office too! Yes, I stick to solids/neutrals as well so I can wear them more than once a month without feeling like “floral skirt day” :-)

    • divaliscious11 :

      Ditto. I actually love this dress and have the same and am the same complexion as the model so could wear it. The problem is that after 2-3 wearings, it would them become a travel piece, wear when I am somewhere where everyone hasn’t already seen me in the dress, and since my travel schedule has seriously diminished with my promotion, I don’t think I’d get enough wear per dollar….now if it drops in price dramatically, I’d pick it up in a heartbeat.

      • I actually love the cut of this dress & seriously contemplating buying it. The cotton is a big plus as I live in a tropical country. Our dress code is biz casual and I never recall what other women wear on a given day (so assume no one remembers what I wore too!).

        But am only 5″4 so worried about the floral….still sitting on the fence.

  8. There’s a lot going on in that dress, but I really like it. I’d definitely wear a cardi/jacket over it to tone it down a bit.

  9. Legally Brunette :

    I like it too, but would definitely need to see it in person. I agree that it’s probably best to wear a black cardigan or blazer to tone it down.

    When you wear a cardigan over a dress, do you usually wear a v-neck one or a crewneck? I haven’t quite figured out how to make the cardigan over dress thing work.

    • Legally Brunette :

      Here’s another Donna Ricco dress that I like better:

      • I often wear cardigans over dresses. For me, V necks with longer length and a closer fit. I personally do not belt or button the cardigan, which admittedly gives it a more casual look, so buying a cardigan of a nice material is key. I could also see it working a round neck, waist-length cardigan, though that look is not as flattering for me and a bit too perky-preppy for my taste.

      • I like this one better — a bit more versatile for work, and the same cut.

  10. I like this a lot – but in plus sized? eek I don’t know. I’d have to see it, but usually that much of a pattern that is that busy would be overwhelming.

    • Eek! Fat girls in color, oh noes!

    • but it’s the truth. people come to this this blog to get feedback about what looks good. better to hear it before you buy it and have people think that.

      • divaliscious11 :

        Its your truth and perhaps what looks good to you. I know LOTS of women who fall into the plus size category who wear and look fabulous in color. Have I seen women who looked bad? Yes, but I’ve also seen some 0’s, 2’s and 4’s who looked a hot mess as well. Had you qualified your comment with imo, or some other indicator that limited this thought to your own feelings, fine, but its awful to make proclomations about what a whole group of people can or can not wear.

        And let’s hope we’ve moved past making all of decisions based upon what other people think….

        • Well, obviously the opinion each of us expresses relates to our own bodies/experiences… duh.

          She’s right – hearing the opinion of others can save a lot of wasted money — just take it with a grain of salt, and make your own decision with those reviews in mind.

          • I’m all for hearing other poster’s opinions, but it’s just that–their opinions. Maybe it’s just a function of my age and/or confidence, but if I like something, I’m going to buy it, regardless of what anyone else thinks.

          • There is also this quaint custom called tact when offering your opinion.

            A skill far too many people have forgotten or have never acquired.

        • anon - chi :

          In defense of the original anon, I don’t think she had an issue with color in general – just this pattern. It’s not uncommon to hear that a big bold pattern like this doesn’t look good on very short women, so I don’t take offense at the suggestion that it may not look good on women who would be wearing a larger amount of the fabric. (In any event, plus size does not necessarily equal fat! Have you seen the plus size model on this season of ANTM?)

          • Different anon, here – I also thought the post was directed at the bold pattern, not the bright colors.

            I actually think this pattern would look better – on anyone – as a well-styled top instead of a dress. I think it is too much pattern for a dress of any size.

  11. Ann Taylor is having a promotion for 30% off dresses. use DRESS30 when checking out. LUCKY magazine recommended this dress which I love (168 and then use the 30% off coupon)

    Boden is also offering a 20% off discount thru Thursday.

    I am not a fan of the dress you posted today. I think that it is too busy.

  12. Love the style of the dress, although I usually don’t do prints unless they’re pretty low-key. I must say the dress looks great on the model, but she’s gorgeous & probably a size XXS so anything would likely look good on her.

  13. I know floral prints are big this year, but that particular one looks kind of dated to me. The colors just look too harsh for me.

    I do like the cut and structured shape of this dress though.

  14. Love the print itself, but not the color combination. If the designer hadn’t added that strange brownish-yellow accent color I think it would have worked.

    • I agree completely about the mustard color making the whole thing look a bit off. I think it would have been better in purple/gray or a more grayish brown instead of that yellowy brown. This just looks like it belongs on a bad couch or something.

      • Lol. My parents had a couch in the early 80s with a similarly strange color combo.

  15. I love this! I agree with PP that you would have to wear black cardi and shoes to tone it down a bit, but I think the cut is beautiful and the print is very fun. Plus, since I don’t work at one office, I can wear the same thing three weeks in a row (if I wanted to) with three different groups of people. So something being “too memorable” is not an issue for me.

  16. I think that it also depends on where you live – I am originally from up north, but now live in Georgia, and I know I’d feel much more comfortable wearing floral print down here – people tend to wear brighters colors, warmer for longer, etc.. I agree that I tend to tire of print dresses much more quickly than others because its hard to mix and match. One good point about this floral pattern is that there are fall colors in it so that you can wear a little later in the season, especially in areas where Fall comes soon. (I follow the weather for colors, not the technical season). You can also wear this to social events after work too – maybe better than other work clothes because it looks less like you walked out straight from the office – just an idea.

  17. One more thing – there is a dress sale on floral prints at Jones New York.,default,sc.html?ep_tag=EM101

  18. I love that this dress is offered in petites, regular women’s, and plus size womens through size 24 —

    That said, I just can’t wrap my head around the wisdom of wearing this print! I think it would make you look like that 1970s sofa… but like all clothing I’m on the fence about – I would go and try it on before deciding.

  19. Floral prints are not for the office, except for 1) a scarf, or 2) a suit blouse, or 3) conceivabaly a very simple skirt if everything else is going to match the background color of the print. This dress is somewhat ugly, and would look very weird in most offices. It might look weird on a date in the evening, too, I should think.

    • I’m not a huge fan of this particular print, but this dress would be totally acceptable in my office. I think we’ve established that what would be unacceptable for one office may be perfectly OK for another.

    • anon - chi :


  20. I love the colors (blues) of the Donna Ricco dress that Legally Blonde recommended above!

  21. Shopping rule to cut down on spending too much and shopping regrets: If you think it might be ugly before you even buy it – DON’T BUY IT!

    Seriously – there are A LOT of things for sale… lots and lots and lots. Spend your money on what you truly like and feel attractive in/is attractive – will save you a lot of aggravation when you balance your checkbook at the end of the month!

  22. I love prints, including florals, and I’ve had (I think!) great success wearing print dresses in business casual offices. I’m not really feeling this particular pattern, and I think prints are only worth buying if you truly and deeply love them, but it’s the /sort/ of thing I’d wear. So, uh, consider this my “In Defense of Prints” thesis. =)

    Other commenters have already pointed out the biggest problem with prints: they’re memorable. I cope with this in part by only buying prints at lower prices. For example, I think a cotton dress like this one is a good choice, particularly if you can get it on sale. If your clothing budget is very tight, you’ll probably want to avoid something this memorable. But if you can afford to invest more in the classic, versatile pieces and then pick up cheaper, fun pieces to rotate in on occasion, prints can be a great way to liven up your wardrobe.

    As C suggests, I’d wear this with a cardigan or blazer. Wearing a print head-to-toe can absolutely make you feel like a sofa or drapery, but since I’m nearly always cold, I already have tons of cardis in every color on standby. If you prefer dresses that can be worn alone, again, prints may not be for you. But if like me you already have cardis in purple, brown, black, and blue, you can use those to change up your look and keep this print looking fresh.

    I know some women who would avoid this dress because they don’t want to be known as “the girl who wears prints/florals.” That’s fair enough, but if you like prints, so what? It seems to me that most stylish women have something distinctive to their look. Some people rock the cool, funky jewelry, or swear by wrap dresses. Others love scarves or purple shoes (hi, C!). Me, I love prints, and I don’t mind if others notice my style. Assuming your office environment is casual enough to allow you a certain element of individuality, I say go for what makes you happy.

    • Thank you for the defense of prints. I like prints myself and have a dress that I wore frequently last summer with a couple of different cardigans. Since I never remember from one day to the next if I’ve seen my co-workers clothes before, I doubt they remember either. I don’t have enough time in the day to pay that much attention to what everyone else is wearing.

  23. My problem is the back of the dress – did they really put the two largest roses smack dab over the cheeks? Inaprop

    • oy… that’s almost as bad as putting them on the chest (which waaay too many clothing designers seem to have no issue doing)

  24. For those of you who are looking for a smaller pattern check out

    And for those of you who are looking for more of a staple check out, you can spice it up by adding different accessories, colorful shoes or a cardigan.

    For more style tips go to

    For more style tips:

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