1 Dress, 2 Ways (yes, I’m one of those people now)

grey maxi dress | www.whatkumquat.com

I have never tried to sell anyone Sugar Bear Hair vitamins.

I have never collaborated with ASOS.

I have never posted a photo from my feed to my Instagram story with a gif over it to make people click into my profile.

I’ve never even been to Coachella.

So you’ll excuse this inexcusable foray into the most basic of blogging tropes, but I felt I was due for one. I have this dress that I love—and, reader, you’d never guess it, but it can be worn two ways. More, I would say, but I daren’t test my luck. Someone over at Revolve might catch wind of my scheming and drag me to a Hamptons lawn party.

As a dutiful disciple of all things geriatric, I’ve long dreamt of a very specific dress. It was made of a thick knitted material, with subtle ribbed detailing to lend visual interest. It was a dark brown, almost black. It had a turtleneck, of course. It was a sensible ankle length, so as to protect the modesty of my knees. Fortunately for me, this dress existed in its entirety. Unfortunately for me, it was AW18 Celine—Philo-era accent aigu and all—so the chances of me being able to own it in this lifetime were looking slim.

Then, a miracle happened in a suburban Zara. I found the dress. Or at least, I found a bootleg version of it; but when you find the very item you’ve been hunting down for a year, any qualms you have about the morality of fast fashion fly swiftly out the window. After sending two different salespeople on unsuccessful quests to the back room for my size, I made peace with a larger fit and brought my dream dress home, excited to start my new life as a Mennonite.

Option #1: The mennonite that’s well-prepared for a surprise snowstorm in June

grey maxi dress | www.whatkumquat.com

This is a look that says “I am a high-powered businesswoman who buys her clothes at The Row and enjoys a quotidian sushi” but also says “I never graduated the fourth grade mother-mandated layering phase, and as a result will likely outlive all of you”. It has nuance. It has layers. It has a whimsical hair bow. It has secrets.

grey maxi dress | www.whatkumquat.comwww.whatkumquat.com

The main one being that this sweater achieved its cropped look by way of a thin belt used to cinch the waist, after which I tucked the ends of it underneath. An extra bit of sneaky layering comes in via the knee-high boots, which are worn over equally knee-high socks. A dress like this lends itself perfectly to layering of all sorts, given that its thick material is super concealing. I, in fact, have an entire long john set under here, just for some extra sex appeal.

grey maxi dress | www.whatkumquat.com

Of course, none of this is important now that it’s summer and memories of the cold feel like a distant nightmare. This is what happens when you have a sudden urge to photograph your outfit in February and promptly forget you have a blog. But come November, rest assured that I will be beating frostbite in style.

Option #2: The mennonite rebels

grey maxi dress | www.whatkumquat.com

That ankle! gasps this Mennonite’s mother, whilst clutching her pearls and fainting gracefully onto the nearest divan.

For the saucy minx looking to blow off some steam and show a little skin, consider the canvas sneaker. (Ideally, without the holes that my Supergas wear as battle scars from traversing the entirety of Manhattan because I have a hatred of the subway.) It’s the best way to get your steps in for the day while still revealing a sliver of ankle in the style of the beached maidens from The Pirates of Penzance. 

grey maxi dress | www.whatkumquat.comgrey maxi dress | www.whatkumquat.com

I then added what at first glance looks like a luggage strap, but is actually a very beautiful tassel belt from M. Patmos—this is key in helping me look more like a Human Woman and less like a sack of potatoes. A matching red headband and vintage bag complete the look, and voila! Here I am, ready and able for a day of loom weaving.

grey maxi dress | www.whatkumquat.com

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