A True Utility Dress

I am a little torn in publishing this post. It was supposed to be the second of a three part series on utility dresses and I had planned to publish it Thursday. But it features a dress that is currently for sale and actually on sale through 11:59 p.m. tonight.

Because my life is a never-ending script of selfless sacrifice,* I am subordinating my desire for logical narrative to your possible interest in a bargain and publishing this post early and out of order.
Your reaction to all of this may be, What the beans is a utility dress?
Behold, my darlings, behold:
According to Banana Republic, this is a utility dress; a strapless utility dress
According to Banana Republic, this is a utility dress; a strapless utility dress

Side view sheds no further light on "utility"  of dress
Side view sheds no further light on “utility” of dress
What is a utility dress? It’s a fair question.
I think the “utility” label is supposed to conjure a general picture of workmen’s clothes — made of cotton twill, equipped with pockets, fitted and crisp, almost always in a shade of khaki, beige, or fatigue green. There is something sharp about a man in uniform! I use “utility” interchangeably with “safari” — except for when I stop, think, and realize a description of any of my clothes as safari wear is too preposterous to be uttered aloud.**

But I think we can agree that this dress is very Mogambo, no? Almost Karen von Blixen, don’t you think?
Are you wondering what, exactly, is going on here?
Well, the dress is strapless . . . but as we’ve discussed, strapless is verboten in Business Casual environments, unless it is layered over a top or under a jacket. So I am wearing it over a jaunty striped tee-shirt.
Safari dress with pockets!

I was inspired
I was inspired
I had so many ideas when I saw this dress.
Again, I am torn. Do I share the ideas now? Or roll them out with photos in the future?

Sometimes I astonish m'self
Sometimes I astonish m’self
I can’t abide a surprise. I’ll tell you now! I see several more outfits: with a white linen camp shirt, dark brown sandals, and a dark brown satchel (so Karen von Blixen); with a black and white micro-striped tee-shirt and my black gladiator sandals; with a black, long-sleeved tissue tee, and backless loafers (which I do not actually have) in the fall.
Are you with me?

A few details up close.
The dress is a little big. I went with size 4. I could have buttoned myself into a 2, which would have fit more snugly through the bust, but I preferred the drape of the skirt in the size 4. So, this dress will be visiting with Fatima soon.
Not sure what this is called; a cuff?
Not sure what this is called; a cuff?

Crisp self-belt is just the right length
Crisp self-belt is just the right length; could be replaced with many other belts, but might want to remove belt loops in that case
Bodice is a little loose and will need to be taken in; that is a whole, other conversation for another post
Bodice is a little loose and will need to be taken in; “cuff” complicates the alteration but that is a whole, other conversation for another post

Dress: Banana Republic Strapless Asymmetrical Utility Dress on sale until 11:59 p.m. 7.31.17; Top: JCrew; Sandals: Aquatalia; Bag: Kate Spade; Watch: Michele CSX
* I am chuckling as I write this.
** Begging the question: Is it so much more preposterous than wearing clothes in the style of a mechanic’s coveralls to a white-collar office job? Another fair question!

8 thoughts on “A True Utility Dress”

  1. Great to see options for making a lovely strapless dress more wearable.

    I clicked the link to the dress and BR’s description says “removable straps.” Does that mean there’s a non-strapless option?

    • There are detachable straps! They are approximately 3/4″ wide — so not substantial enough to make the dress suitable for work without something under or over it, but they do provide security and a little visual coverage for those who feel that strapless is too bare.

  2. Very Karen von Blixen indeed! Something about calling that dress a “utility” dress strikes me as very J Peterman absurd. The strapless aspect, don’t you know. But of course, you do know, Directrice! I know you know.

    I look forward to the contextualizing pre-planned posts.

  3. Sorry, but I’m just not into this outfit. In my opinion, the t-shirt spoils the look. Perhaps wearing a jacket over the dress would be best for office attire or save this for recreational use with the optional straps attached. Another ‘or’ – return it before you invest more money as a result of needed alterations.

  4. Loved it totally and can also see a tissue t-shirt and adore a white linen camp shirt with it. For evening just the dress and your interesting choice for necklace. Any safari theme brings tons of ideas too. Espadrilles with ankle tie would suit so well. Run with it!

  5. Strapless utility is definitely – unquestionably – a contradiction in terms. But this outfit is great on you; your other variations also sound promising, but might you not need to wear the dress over the linen shirt before adjustments are made? I should think the shirt would be considerably more bulky as an under layer tha the tshirt is.


Leave a Comment