Many designers used dresses to open their fall runway shows and a plethora of dresses are being shown in resort collections, both of which bode well for the category, which has seen robust sales for the past few years. Aside from being "an instant outfit" as noted by J. Crew's creative director Jenna Lyons, this season's dresses are more diverse than they have been in recent seasons. In addition, dresses are helping to prompt impulse purchases for accessories and shoes.
Dresses are often considered a great buy, and now with the extremely difficult retail environment and one of the most promotional seasons on record, they've become an even more attractive purchase. Dresses, like other apparel categories, have been subject to aggressive markdowns and promotional activity this spring at stores across the board.
Linda Fargo, senior vice president, women's fashion director and store presentation at Bergdorf Goodman, said, "The dress is still strong for us, and by the look of the resort markets, it will remain one of the best categories. It's interesting when a trend morphs into a way of life. There are far fewer decisions to make, when it's time to decide what to wear every day. All you need to think about are your accessories. Not only does 'the dress' simplify our lives, it ultimately says 'feminine,' and is able to express many of our fashion personalities, from soft and romantic, to fierce and sexy, to professional, to dramatic and elegant. And as an added bonus, it elongates the figure versus the natural bisecting which occurs with separates."
Bergdorf Goodman shoppers are buying easy summer long dresses for day or night in contemporary, more fitted sheaths from pre-fall collections, and graphic prints such as floral, ethnic-inspired and artistic ones, as well as colorful styles. Safari-inspired shirtdressing, and easy, comfortable fun dresses such as those from Lisa Perry are also popular.
Nicole Fischelis, vice president and fashion director of women's at Macy's East, offered a host of reasons for the longevity of the dress.