Corey Lynn Calter
With rooftop parties kicking in, I needed a cute summer dress to wear. My first stop was Dear Fieldbinder on Smith Street, where I zipped on Corey Lynn Calter’s butterfly-print silk frock. I liked the muted olive green and the boned, corset-style top—which did wonders for my less-than-buxom décolleté. Sadly, the ruffle at the waist and the colorful motif were too girlie for a night out. 198 Smith St., near Baltic St., Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn; 718-852-3620.
This cotton, Empire-waist dress at Old Navy came in a rich, chocolate brown, and its thin metallic gold threads gave off a subtle sparkle. The drawstring at the top offered no-slip security and tied with a pretty bow. Considering the low price tag, I expected the dress to look cheap. Instead, it could easily be dressed up with strappy heels or be worn casually with flats. And I loved that it hit below the knee; if I was going to show so much up top, I wanted to cover up elsewhere. 610 Sixth Ave., nr. 18th St.; 212-645-0663.
The summer styles at J. Crew were cute, especially one rack filled with striped cotton dresses. I picked out a pretty blue one with white and orange pinstripes. I liked the full skirt and the color, which looked perfect—even without a tan. But despite my bare shoulders, there was zero sex appeal. Unless I was going out on Martha’s Vineyard, I couldn’t wear this at night. 91 Fifth Ave., nr. 17th St.; 212-255-4848.
The jammed racks at Intermix were lacking in the strapless-frock department, but an attentive salesman helped me pick a couple of options. The only one in my size was a Lacey Park black and white polka-dotted dress with a ruched, bandeau-style top. Normally, I’m opposed to any dress that would turn me into Minnie Mouse, but the thin cotton was so soft I had to try it on. The baby-doll style was very flattering because it flared out to a full—yet short—skirt. Unfortunately, the abnormally small top kept slipping down, making me do a spot-on Lindsay Lohan impression. Intermix, 98 Prince St., nr. Mercer St.; 212-966-5303.
I stopped into Bloomingdale’s to satisfy a hankering for their amazing frozen yogurt. Then I headed to the dress section. I found an adorable tieback bandeau look by Free People that came in a lime-green print. With no zippers and a stretchy top, the dress easily slipped on. The chartreuse color turned me sickly pale, and the miniscule length could barely be called a tunic. This could, at best, work as a beach cover-up, post self-tanner. 504 Broadway, nr. Broome St.; 212-729-5900.
I was walking up Broadway, about to get on the subway, when I spotted a strapless denim number in the window of Atrium. The dress, by Hudson, was dark blue with a banded waist and a lot of stretch. After wriggling into it, I was surprised that it actually held in problem areas instead of revealing them. The top was cut low and sexy, and the vertical seams created the illusion of being thin. The problem? As I tried to exit the dressing room to get a better look, I realized that the clingy cut and mid-calf hemline made it virtually impossible to walk. 644 Broadway, nr. Bleecker St.; 212-473-9200.
Everlast by Norma Kamali
At Ylli in Brooklyn, I walked into the dressing room with my arms full of dresses, but everything I tried on had just a little something wrong with it—until I slipped on a stretchy navy-blue tube dress from Everlast by Norma Kamali. On the hanger, this polyester and spandex piece resembled a banded-waist skirt. But on me, the heavy fabric draped exquisitely and hugged my body in all the right places. Though the dress was simple, it could be dressed up and accessorized—a perfect basic piece. 482 Driggs Ave., nr. N. 10th St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-302-3555.
I swung by the midtown H&M during the day, hoping to avoid the throngs of tourists. How wrong I was. I fought my way over to a rack of striped spandex tube dresses and picked out a red, black, and white one. Sadly, horizontal stripes do in fact add on visual pounds. Not only were the stripes a negative optical illusion, but this dress was too tight to be flattering, and the loud pattern drew way too much attention to my problem areas. I now understood why there were so many of these dresses still on the racks. 640 Fifth Ave., nr. 51st St.; 212-489-0390.