And so the love affair with dresses continues…

It’s official. In spite of the fact that I’ve worn separates most of my adult life, I’m experiencing a fascination with dresses that both surprises and delights me. I’ve always shied away from them, convinced that it’s nearly impossible to get a single garment to fit well in all the right places. That may have been the case in the past, but the issue seems to have magically disappeared.

Case in point: this ponte fit-and-flare dress from Banana Republic. I simply added a wide black belt, subtly patterned black tights, and black suede booties for a look that can go from the office to dinner with ease.

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This flared drop-waist dress, also from Banana, is another easy-to-wear choice. I team mine with a cropped cardigan, tights, and black suede pumps for a great fall look. And P.S. — it’s currently on sale.

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The Little (Not) Black Dress

I am clearly in the throes of a dress phase. I’ve rarely worn them for day, because I’ve always thought of them as special-occasion garb. That’s completely wrong, of course, and I’m happy to have come around. There are so many fabulous day dresses just ripe for the plucking…and pluck I do.

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This drop-waist dress from Banana Republic is a perfect example. For starters, let me say that it is not nearly as short as it appears in the photo. I left behind thigh-revealers in the ’70s, and I’m not about to revisit them at my…ahem…age. This hits just above the knee, and with a pair of black opaque tights, it’s perfectly suitable for a woman of a certain age. Add heels to dress it up…flats to dress it down…tall boots or booties…and you’re set.

Even though it’s a black-and-white tweed (with a hint of silvery thread), it serves as the ideal basic. It looks great paired with a blazer or cardigan in ever-reliable black, or in a bright color, such as red or royal. I teamed it with the orangey-red Anna cardigan, which I bought in petite so it hits just a few inches below the waist and enhances the line of the dress. Also, the silver buttons play off the lurex quite nicely.

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The Wrap Dress…Universally Flattering

Diane von Furstenberg knew precisely what she was doing when she created the iconic wrap dress. It’s flattering to every body type…to every age…and it doesn’t have to break the bank.

Banana Republic offers the Gemma wrap dress in several patterns, solid black, and solid red. Even though it’s a low-price-point dress, it’s well made of substantial fabric with a nice drape. It can be dressed up or down, which is always a bonus in my opinion. While I wouldn’t necessarily pair this black-and-white number with the tan shoes shown in the photo, it looks great with sophisticated black patent peep-toe pumps and more casual black wedges.

Another Great Basic

Taking its place as a close second to the little black dress is the little grey dress. This wool sheath from Banana Republic is the perfect piece to transition from summer into fall.

Again, as with most Banana Republic dresses, it does not fall as far above the knee as it appears here…unless you’re 5’9″, of course.

This little number is incredibly simple and basic, inviting you to accessorize to your heart’s content. I’d scrap the nude shoe shown here for a pump in black patent or red to give it some punch…add a chunky silver necklace…and you’re good to go. For fall and winter, I’d complement it with a brightly colored cropped cardigan. This one is on sale at Banana and is disappearing fast.

Finish it off with a floral scarf and you’ve got a look that combines the best of ’60s retro and contemporary style.

The Perfect LBD

A woman can never underestimate the power—and utter practicality—of the little black dress. Versatile and timeless, the right one can take you from day to evening with a mere change of shoes and accessories.

I’ve owned a few LBDs in my lifetime, and the Vanessa ruffle sheath dress from Banana Republic is one of the best ever.

Trust me…it’s not as short as it appears on this 5’9″ model, so baby boomers need not fret. I’m 5’5″, and it hits just at the top of the knee—a universally flattering length.

I’d love to be able to take credit for this find, but my friend Tyler Fisher gets it all. He’s a sales associate at Banana Republic in Roseville, California—the kind of guy who lets you hang in the dressing room while he brings you armloads of great clothes. I told him I’m going through a sheath phase—my husband loves them on me, bless his heart—and Tyler said, “Hmmm. There’s a dress you have to try.” He showed up with the Vanessa, and it was love at first sight. I bought it instantly.

If you’re ever in the nabe and find yourself in the vicinity of The Galleria, stop by Banana to see Tyler—and prepare to be dazzled.