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The Dress That Breaks All the ‘Curvy’ Style Rules

It doesn’t have a waistline, and doesn’t need one.

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A model wearing a loose gray dress
Universal Standard Geneva Dress ($120)

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The first time I bought this dress, it didn't fit. It was too big and too long, and I was devastated. After reading this article about Universal Standard, I was chomping at the bit to buy from them. The clothes are fashion-y but not weird, simple but not boring. And it all comes in my size.

I returned the dress and moped a little, not sure if I wanted to try again or just write off the brand as yet another company not meant for me. But then I got the dress a size down as a gift from my soon-to-be mother-in-law, and I can say with certainty: It's the single most wearable thing in my closet.

The gray Geneva dress is always the right choice. For a trip to Eater's NYC headquarters in January, I neatly rolled it up in my carry-on and then wore it with black tights and burgundy boots for a day of meetings. On a breezy, sunny day in San Francisco, I wore it with a green Uniqlo bomber, perfect for strolling, having lunch outside, and getting a manicure. It's comfortable enough that you won't want to take it off as soon as you get home — but I do anyway because I love it so much that I try to minimize the chance of spilling on it.

The most surprising thing about it is that it doesn't have a waistline. I’ve never been thin and, as literally every sales associate, episode of What Not to Wear, and magazine article will tell you, that means I am supposed to wear clothes with built-in structure. These garments, and only these garments, will "flatter" me.

This dress proves them all wrong. I'm naturally hourglass-y, and even without a seam, you can tell I'm not some waistless monster. Even without a V-neck (another favorite "rules of dressing your curvy frame"), my body looks sleek and my chest looks good. Even though I'm short-ish, my body looks long. And even though gray is unequivocally the best color, I keep adding and deleting the black version from my shopping cart.

One last thing — the dress is also the exact amount I'd want to spend on a non-special-occasion dress. So much of my clothing is disposable. Too often, plus-sizes are out-of-reach expensive, but even more often, the garments are cheap, poorly made, and not worth the $45 to $80 I spend on them (ahem, ASOS Curve), wearing them a few times before they fall apart.