Ask Belle: Short-Sleeve Work Dresses

Apr 13, 2015

Hi Belle!

I’m moving to DC and your blog has been so great in preparation. I need some short sleeve dresses for the office.  Can you help me find some that cost under $100?  Thanks for taking reader questions!

-T

Short-sleeve dresses were lifesaving when I was on the Hill.  You can add layers to stay warm (and professional) in the frigid, AC-cooled indoors, and lose them when you step outside.  Here are a few affordable suggestions.

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Felicity & Coco Seamed Pencil Dress ($98, also in petite)

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Sybil Crepe Sheath Dress ($89)

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Kut from the Kloth Wrap Waist Dress ($98)

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Jones New York Flare Dress ($99)

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Preston & York Vivian Dress ($89)

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Calvin Klein Cowl Neck Sheath ($89)

*also in black

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Abstract Print Flare Dress ($69)

Plus-size? This flare dress is a nice choice.  I also like this faux-wrap from Target, and this Alfani textured dress with a scoop neck.

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  1. Caro says:

    I know there’s been some debate lately on J Crew’s quality, but I’m wearing this dress right now and am a pleased with the fit and sale price. https://www.jcrew.com/womens_special_sizes/petite/suiting/PRDOVR~B4506/B4506.jsp

  2. Anna says:

    I really wish more short sleeved dresses weren’t cap sleeved. They’re so unflattering on my arms and provide almost as much coverage as sleeveless. I’d love a short sleeved dress that didn’t look matronly and had a bit more coverage.

  3. Anon says:

    This dress from J.Crew Factory is lovely on. TTS. The green is a true green, like the color of a green M&M, not the teal or emerald shade that shows up on my monitor.

    I wouldn’t call it crepe. It’s a stiff fabric that…I can’t really describe or say that I’ve ever encountered before lol. BUT it’s very flattering on (three compliments from strangers the first day I wore it) and very affordable with a sale. It’s unlined, which normally I dislike, but it works for this fabric.

    https://factory.jcrew.com/womens-clothing/dresses/waistdefineddresses/PRD~B8325/B8325.jsp?Nbrd=F&Nloc=en_US&Nrpp=48&Npge=1&Ntrm=B8325&isSaleItem=false&color_name=BRIGHT%20EMERALD&isFromSearch=true&isNewSearch=true&hash=row0

    FYI for anyone considering the orange dress. Preston & York is Dillard’s matron’s line, so be advised that anything will run HUGE. Order at least 1 size down if not 2. P&Y items also don’t have defined waists (you can see how it’s hanging on the model in the photo).

    A quick run-down of Dillard’s in-house brands since Belle has started to feature them more:

    – Antonio Melani is their highest end line and designed for career women in their 20s-60s. TTS. It’s my favorite line – whenever I go in Dillard’s, I make a beeline for this department and always find something gorgeous.

    – Alex Marie is a more budget-friendly career line. Runs a smidge big. Not as fitted. Target age 30-60s. I check the sale rack here, but haven’t purchased anything in 2 years because the designs have been trending older.

    – Preston & York is their line for mature women. When I was growing up, I had a plump nanny in her 60s who always wore her hair in a bun and a suit with a skirt below the knees – that’s who P&Y is designed for.

    – Gianni Bini is for teens to 30s. Expect shorter hemlines and smaller or shrunken sizing.

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