Style Notes: Outfits with a sleeveless ruffle dress

I’ve been shopping online at Target recently for home items, so inevitably there was an order where I git got by their clothing section and its abundance of frilly dresses.

The Universal Thread “Ruffle Sleeveless Dress” one caught my eye because 1) I looooove traditional mattress ticking style stripes and 2) it looked similar to the Hill House Home (henceforth referred to as HHH) “Ellie Nap Dress”, which has been quite the “it dress” in the past year. It’s hard to get a hold of though and I’m not really about trying to snipe items from high-stress product drops.

The Target dress is simpler (fewer ruffle tiers, smocking only on the back, fewer pleats/ruffles on the straps) so is a more casual look, but also less luxurious looking. I think the HHH dress will likely fit more shapes because of the additional ruching, although it looks like it too becomes an empire waist cut on larger busts. Target’s does extend to the plus size range. Ellie dresses come in a variety of fabrics seasonally, but the Target dress is a woven 100% cotton. While I think I would still be quite chuffed to own a HHH dress I think the more casual look of the Target dress does fit well into my everyday style. I’m wearing the striped version in a medium, and it also comes in yellow floral and navy floral.

I’ve worn this a few times mostly in more casual looks, but I wanted to try styling it for a few different occasions and seasons. I’ll skip the most basic pairing with a pair of dressy block heel sandals because I’m sure you’ve already seen that a billion times, but I started off styling it in a more “obvious” outfit for my first wear – a trendy padded headband and stompy boots. HHH often styles their models in giant headbands, which are a nice addition of flair into the whole look while letting the loudly frilly dress do its thing. I really liked the slate gray headband here as it split the color difference between the blue stripes and the boots. I feel like it could use a bangle or some rings or something to add a hard/edgy finishing element into the middle part of the outfit.

Anthropologie velvet braided headband, Dr Martens “Leona” boot

Here’s another traditional styling for a summery outing. I did a french braid and added a floral bow scrunchie on the end (on top of a normal black hair elastic, as it doesn’t stay at the end of a tail by itself) for extra visual interest at the top of the look to balance out the blocks of the platform clogs. I went all-out on the summer promenade aesthetic with a circular straw tote. Even though the individual accessories aren’t that fancy, the overall effect turned out really chic!

H&M tote, MIA “Madeline” clogs, Free People bow scrunchie

I call this one “Napa bachelorette weekend brunch”. I love the white boot for keeping with the soft colors in the dress but being a little more unexpected than a dressy sandal or docs.

Anthropologie braided chiffon headband, Intentionally Blank “West” leather bootie

A casual casual styling for errands out, featuring sun-blocking baseball cap some chucks, and everybody’s favorite Trader Joe’s tote bag. The burnt orange hat is my go-to, but I’ve been digging the washed green cap with this one because the muted greens and blues are very soothing together. A little pop of color with some yellow lettuce hem socks that I always think looks cute with the red and navy accents in the sneakers.

UC Botanical Garden hat, Trader Joe’s tote, Converse Chuck 70 high-tops

Even more all-in comfy version ft retro style running shoes. I like that this one has more of an accent color and really just embodies “IDGAF, I like comfort AND ruffles”. In motion though I did feel that it had a bit much going on for my taste in the bottom section of the outfit compared to the rather plain top, since the sock reads as a separate block rather than an accent on the shoe.

UC Botanical Garden hat, Trader Joe’s tote, New Balance Classics sneakers

The cooler weather version, topped with my trusty fleece bomber jacket.

UC Botanical Garden hat, Uniqlo U fleece, Dr Martens “Leona” boot

And with a pom-pom beanie for a more cozy wintery version. I’d wear thermal tights for actual cold, but I didn’t want to melt so just pretend I have some ribbed sweater tights on. Given how lightweight the dress is I was slightly surprised it still worked here, but I think the relatively practical length and enough volume to not look anemic next to a fleece helps that out. I think going with one of my more winter weight fair isle socks to tie into the beanie pattern and fleece would make the winter-boho aesthetic stronger.

LL Bean hat, Uniqlo U jacket, Dr Martens “Leona” boot

Didn’t show up well in that look, but I had a mock neck on underneath. This one’s sheer because I couldn’t be bothered to dig up the dark green rib knit one that would end up looking 90% the same, but I think that would look equally cute for when it’s actually cold.

Feeling like a very 1980s Bo Peep in this look with the white lace-up boots, so like in the previous post decided to roll with it and go with the high half-ponytail with a gingham scrunchie. The empire waist and more extreme proportion I think is a fun design element when wearing the dress by itself or with a plain layer, but it definitely does up the “that is a look” aspect when combined with lots of other extras.

Anthropologie top, Intentionally Blank “West” leather bootie

Another blogger staple, the sheer mock neck. Tbh this one is a little snug on me since I’ve gained weight, but it was still wearable enough to check the styling. I went with the pointy boots for a dressier look and to match the sleekness of the top. I think this would look great with some minimal gold hoops or a dainty gold pendant necklace and rings to glitz it up and add some depth.

Reformation mesh mock neck via Poshmark, Steve Madden boots

This is extremely Edwardian housemaid and I am into it. I think it does feel a tad stuffy with the ruffles, full coverage, collared shirt, and heavy boots, so looking at this now I think a larger velvet padded headband maybe with pearl detailing would suit the heavier overall visual weight better. I could see this working as a dressier look as well with my patent leather lace-up boots, which would also fit with the winter glam of a velvet headband.

Vila petite blouse, Dr Martens “Leona” boot, Anthropologie headband

A neutral pose for good measure.

While I don’t find this quite as versatile and wear-anywhere as my shorter sleeveless cotton dresses, it’s a fun way to switch up my silhouette and get some ruffles in without resorting to puff sleeves. Hope to get more of these into the outfit log on Instagram soon with the small tweaks I noted here. Whenever I get a new item, I always like to do a styling session with it and see whether I’m feeling excited or just exhausted at the end to help decide whether I should keep it. Even if an item is not as versatile as here, I’ll try it on with a bunch of different shoes or a few hairstyles to see how it feels as a one-and-done type of look.

Do you have any pieces that surprised you with their versatility? Let me know in the comments below!

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