A friend of mine, C., sent me a link to this dress and asked me to help explain why, why on earth, this bland monstrosity would be Sold Out at J. Crew:
I honestly couldn't tell her. While I have seen a (very) few women able to pull off- no, rock- this shape, I can't see how enough J. Crew patronage would be able to wear it at all to merit its unavailability. How to tell if you can work the long trapeze? Are you tall and slight? Aw, you neither? Then I suggest playing it safe and leaving it on the rack.
If I were going to try to pull this off personally, I would definitely opt for something with a little splash of color. I feel as though this poor, pretty model would fit right in picking wildflowers out on a prairie. And that's just never a good look. For summer's sake, let's stay away from oatmeal tones, monochrome, and prairie patterns. (No offense, general J. Crew patronage!)
However, as The Fug Girls have pointed out, maybe a big, splashy print isn't always the answer to owning this shape:
Sorry, Kelly. But thanks for setting the necessary example! (In your defense, I do prefer the V-neck to the square on the above model.)
Also, Lauren Ambrose:
Fugged. I mean, thank you for wearing it at a length where your feet aren't being swallowed, and high heels definitely help. (Although apparently in the 50's when this shape was developed, it was meant to be worn with flats? Strange...) But this is still a no-go. Helpful hint: don't pair flowy, shapeless garments with flowing, shapeless cover-ups! You've got a shape in there somewhere, right? Right? And maybe a concealed bag of Cheetos for later, hm? Mmm, Cheetos... But maybe she can't afford a stylist since Six Feet Under ended. Can't her buddy and castmate Michael C. Hall get her a bit part on Dexter? I can totally see her playing a serial killer, possibly homeless, whose clothes on her back become her sleeping tent at night! The red conceals the blood... oh, go with it. Girl needs a job and some conditioner!
I have seen a few of these that appear to be working the correct length/shape/coloring at Urban Outfitters of all places, but I couldn't find the same garments on their website. Fear not, readers, the trapeze-ish dress watch is on!
Here's a helpful article about this shape. I particularly like the part where Suzanne D'Amato advises: Choose a frock that hits above the knee. Anything longer is not a trapeze dress; it's a muumuu. And then she goes on to call what the above ladies are wearing "body-hugging sheaths." Nice!