I’ve been looking for the perfect day dress ever since I saw Alessandra Mastronardi’s looks on Master of None. Nailing Italian-girl style, she went from channeling a cocktail-party-ready Monica Vitti to looking like she could whip up homemade pasta at any moment. No dress in any write-up I read about Mastronardi’s outfits quite hit that perfect note of glamour and ease (and affordability), so you can imagine my surprise when I found exactly what I was looking for where I least expected it: at Target.
On my usual run to pick up ponytail holders and clothes hangers, there it was: a rack of simple midi-length, high-waisted dresses in stripes, a solid black, and black polka dots, all part of a capsule by Who What Wear. I thought I was witnessing a retail mirage. (There was also a fourth dress that I absolutely adored in polka dots that’s almost all sold out, but which you should definitely buy if you are an XS.) Somehow, they were even better once I tried them on. The midi length made me look taller; the high waist was slimming. I looked at the tags. Most of dresses were $33, and one was just $30. There had to be some catch. But a week later, I had worn one dress every single day since I bought it (styled slightly differently each time). I promptly went back and doubled up.
I work from home a lot, and always want to wear something like sweatpants without actually wearing sweatpants. The Target dresses are the next best thing: They’re stretchy and machine washable, so they’re fine to get dirty. I lust after those HVN silk dresses as much as the next person, but the idea of wearing a day dress that costs as much as a couch while I do my errands is anxiety-inducing. (What if I actually sweat in it?) I’ve worn my dress at home with flip-flops, out to brunch with sneakers, to an art opening with knee-high boots, winter through spring. My tiniest complaint is that the sleeves on my striped dress were a little long in that telltale fast-fashion way — so, like a crazy person, I had them shortened for $10 dollars. At $30, why not make it super perfect? These are dresses you can, in fact, make pasta while wearing.
My personal favorite. The stripes change just below the waist to accent your shape, and it comes in solid black, too.
Like an Assembly New York dress that costs ten times less.
Tell me this isn’t a dead-ringer for the dress Mastronardi wears to the “Chef Jeff” cocktail party.