Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Fast Fashion's Tznua Dresses

So I got some flak for my Nordstrom Anniversary Sale post. Apparently many of you don't like to spend $600 or $800 on dresses. I'm truly shocked to learn this. With day school tuition so inexpensive, I figured we all had tons of extra money laying around for expensive clothes and trips to Israel. But I digress.

Out of respect for pretty much everyone and due to some super sleuthing by one of my coworkers, I bring you two dresses from fast fashion chains that are relatively affordable, even at their regular prices. And, even better, they are from the chains' fall fashion lines, so you should be able to find your size, assuming the store produced it.

First off is the $59.95 dress from H&M in aubergine. The top has a really interesting criss-cross drape that adds elegance to this solid dress. It's made of a combination of CUPRO and elastane. CUPRO appears to be a silk substitute that is made out of cotton linter, is similar to Tencel, and is machine washable. And as you've probably figured out by now, I love everything to be machine washable, mainly because I only remember to get my dry cleaning done once per year and I don't like spending $15 to get a dress cleaned. I think this dress would look great dressed up and worn to a wedding with heels and shiny jewelry. Dressed down with a belt, flats, and chunky jewelry, it could be worn shopping, out with friends, or to work. Unfortunately,  H&M doesn't offer online shopping yet, so you'll have to find this at your local H&M store. I know how hard it is to force oneself to go to the mall.

UPDATE 8/8: This dress hasn't yet arrived in H&M's warehouse, so no store has received this dress. This dress likely won't be available for purchase for another 2 - 3 weeks. If you are interested in knowing if it will be available in a store near you, call H&M's customer service at (855) 466-7467 after 8/22 and refer to item # 678880. This dress is in the "Modern Day Classic Wear" collection and could be available in most H&M locations.

UPDATE 8/29: I've been trying weekly to get information about this dress from H&M's customer service phone number and I got a different explanation every week I called. Two days ago, I asked the woman I spoke to at customer service if there was anyone else I could talk to, and she referred me to H&M's US Support Center (which is basically their headquarters for their US operation). I called, and the woman couldn't help me much over the phone because all of H&M's buyers are located in Sweden, but she contacted them and got back to me this morning. Here is what she told me:

"The dress is from our Trend label and the order number is 35216. It has been in our stores for about a week. Our US warehouse has only received a little less than 900 pieces and it will not receive any more shipments.

Our suggestion is to contact your local store that carried the ladies trend line to see if they have any in stock. We hope this information has been helpful."

In the DC region, I believe the "Trend" store is the one on F St NW in DC, close to Metro Center. I'll call them today and update this post with their response. If you are not located in the DC area, I suggest calling H&M's Customer Service line at (855) 466-7467 to find out which store(s) in your area carry the "Trend" line, then calling that (those) store(s) directly.

This second dress, the Long Dress with Leaves, is more appropriate to wear to weddings. Most likely, if you're a mother of the bride or a bridesmaid. it's long-sleeve, high neck, long skirt, and perhaps a slight bit matronly. It's from Mango, so I'll assume that the matronly bit is in style. That being said, it's a machine washable special occasion dress that you're really  not supposed to dry clean. And, did I mention that it's only $169.99? I'm not sure many people have found less expensive bridesmaid gowns than that, even at gemachs. And, it's at least half the cost of getting a dress made (and will likely fit better, too). I wouldn't wear too much with it because the leaves are a bit sparkly already. But, there are always chunky rings and pretty earrings that would look really nice with this dress. You can purchase it online, and it's possible a few stores will sell it, but I would definitely call the store you want to buy it from before going out of your way to get there. Hopefully, they'll sell it at some of their many stores in Israel, too.


  1. Whoa. You got flack? I was so happy to see that someone understands that sometimes looking good involves some investment! I don't go around giving people flack for eating out ($20 meals really do add up!) or going on vacations, because that's not a waste of money or anything. Clothing is where I choose to spend my money, and there is no reason why I should feel defensive (but I do!)

    While the affordable above may be cheap, one thing is for sure is they won't suit me. No matter how I've tried, only a certain price bracket will suit my build. Sad but true.

    1. While H&M isn't known to be forgiving, I find that Mango's clothing is made very well. The dress is also fully lined and isn't particularly form-fitting. Many J.C. Penney stores have MNG by Mango boutiques, and you can see how the brand would fit you by trying on a few sizes there. I also have never had issues with panty lines with any of the three Mango skirts I own, two of which are unlined, which attests to the quality materials they use.

      Many of my friends (who are among the average of 50 - 100 people who read each blog post) are married with multiple children in day school, paying expensive mortgages, living off 1 or 1.5 incomes because day care in our region is a bare minimum of $12K/child/year, so they don't have extra money to spend on clothing for themselves. The day school cost of elementary school in our area is about $15K per 10-month school year and is $20K for high school. Just having three children sets the average family back about $50,000/year without camp, and none of that money is tax deductible. With the average federal government salary for a college-educated 30-year-old around $72,000/year (GS-12), it's no wonder why many of my friends don't have extra money to buy the more expensive clothing items featured on this blog.

    2. Of course people shouldn't automatically have a hoarded clothing budget; but if you say, "Hey, check out this dress, it's on sale!" they should be able to handle it without making you feel like a frivolous human being.

      Also, I'm very tall, and "sadly" only designer skirts are long enough on me. Cheaper brands are skimpy with fabric.

    3. Those things won't flatter me either, most likely (although they're lovely to look at- but don't look likely to flatter the curvy)- but I'm also not going to be able to afford more expensive things, generally. In fact, I do most of my clothes shopping second hand, which fits my budget better- I'm just out of grad school, and my husband is still a student. Also, if you're willing to be open to what you find, it can be a good way of getting some good clothes for less.

      At the same time, it can be nice to see what is out there, even if I can't afford it. No reason not to show the occasional more pricey offering, since some folks might be able to afford them.

    4. None of my friends have made me feel frivolous. I often get requests to show items that are more affordable to more people, and while pretty much everyone loved the Nordstrom dresses, very few people could afford them.

      I have a lot of friends who shop at consignment shops and thrift stores. On occasion, I also shop at these stores. If there was a store like this that only sold tznua merchandise (and not clothing requiring layering or clothing that was all too short for me), I would be happy to feature it on the site. Since this blog wasn't meant to showcase styles as much as specific articles of clothing, it's difficult to feature items of clothing available second-hand.

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    6. I have also found that Mango is not skimpy with fabric. My three Mango skirts are about 40" long each. The Mango dress featured here is 57.375" long, shoulder-to-hem, in a size small and is longer for larger sizes. Most long designer dresses range in size from 58" to 62" and the dresses are designed to assume that hemming is necessary, even for 4"+ heel wearers.

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  3. While the two dresses you picked out are lovely, a short woman, such as myself, would look pretty much ridiculous in either one.

    (not that you're required to find an "all body type" dress.)