In our biweekly series, editors share "the item they wear to death," whether it be a basic white tee or a super-trendy jumpsuit. Prepare yourself (and your credit card) for some guilt-free shopping.
I take after my (very) tall father. I’m 5'9", while my mother doesn’t hit 5'2". So a few years ago, when my mom was cleaning out the attic of my childhood home, I naturally turned down the offer to take home her forgotten wardrobe from the '80s and '90s. She was, and remains, a total babe with great taste, but I was positive I wouldn’t fit into any of her old duds.
To humor her though, I agreed to hold an impromptu fashion show—Sex and the City style—and try on her old clothes. I discovered something: She had been holding out on me! From the boxes tumbled out plaid skirts (that would feel right at home on the Ralph Lauren runway), buttery leather belts, and wool capes that miraculously fit my 5'9 frame perfectly. Then, from this pile, I spotted the holy grail of hand-me-downs: a fit-and-flare black dress with bright red florals. It would, against all odds, become my go-to outfit.
This vintage '90s dress is a miracle in more ways than one. I have a decent rack and hips much wider than my waist, which makes it tough to find formfitting dresses and tops that don’t pull or tug in all the wrong places. (Button-down shirts? A no for me.) But this piece fit differently from shoulder to hem. The cap sleeves hit my arms at the perfect angle while the v-neck shows off my collar bones nicely and displays just enough cleavage for a date, but also goes unnoticed at the office. It seemed somehow sewn to my exact measurements—I didn't have to resign to an unforgiving fit at the chest or a slouchy waist as I normally do. Plus, the flared skirt offers plenty of room to hide a third-trimester food baby.
I’ve dubbed this dress my "ghost outfit." If I were to die and haunt my friends, this is the piece my soul would wear. In less morbid terms, this item goes everywhere with me: to work dinners, on vacation (it’s traveled to three continents), nights out. I style the frock with a leather jacket and tough sandals in the warmer months. When it's brisk out, I layer it with tights and a pair of boots. Seasonless.
Although you can't get yourself the exact piece (my mother bought it at The Limited back in the early '90s), floral dresses have never completely disappeared from the racks. This Nordstrom version is quite similar.
As for me, I plan to drop by my mom's attic again soon and see what else I can scour.
For more celebrity news, beauty and fashion advice, savvy political commentary, and fascinating features, sign up for the Marie Claire newsletter.