Saturday, September 12, 2009

Review: J. Crew Dream Meribel Tunic Dress

I mentioned yesterday that I'd called around and found the "two doggies tee" at a B&M in a very nice but quiet and suburban "festival"-style strip mall here -- a tiny little JC store that I rarely visit.  So I buzzed over there to pick up the tee and ended up spending a really fun hour playing.  I went home with a few new goodies, notably this one:

The Dream Meribel Tunic Dress

 Here it is in camel.  Funky pose, I must say.

And in navy.  Definitely not a "hanger piece"... but read on!

J. Crew describes the dress this way:
This is a piece you'll reach for again and again—it's got the polish of our chicest dress combined with the coziness of our softest knits. Easy, effortless elegance perfect for work or play. Spun from a supersoft merino wool and cashmere blend (with more cashmere than ever) in a lofty 12-gauge knit. Merino wool/nylon/cashmere. Fitted. Scoopneck. Long sleeves. Hits at midthigh, 18 1/2'' from natural waist. Import. Dry clean.
I bought the dress in black, which must be B&M only, and the store also had it in light grey (sort of tee-shirt athletic grey).  There was a sign in the store identifying it as the "Meribel Tunic", and the dress I bought is tagged as style number 18295 which is, in fact, the Meribel dress.  But my receipt identified it as the "Moon Tunic Dress."  And get this -- it was marked down from $118 to $88.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this piece and highly recommend it, especially if you can snag it on sale as I did.

I imagine this dress is pretty in any color, but I must say that the black is truly an inky, true winter black. Yummy.

As you all know now, I'm a short-shinner girl and the length of this piece worn unbelted as a dress was perfect on me, hitting just a couple of inches or slightly less above my knee.  If you're taller or a long-shinner, you might find it slightly short for your taste, but read on because it is precious worn as a belted tunic over skinny pants or leggings with ballet flats, driving moccasins or boots.

The fit runs slightly large, I'd say.  A Small gave me plenty of room to layer something underneath, if I liked.

The Dream cashmere/merino blend is soft and lightweight enough to be wearable in my warm climate but heavy enough so that (especially in the darker colors) it doesn't cling to the body uncomfortably.  You'll notice in the online photos that the rearview shot of the model wearing this dress in camel does show a bit of silhouetting around the tush.  But nothing that Spanx couldn't totally cure, if you cared.

The sleeves are flatteringly narrow and have a very long knit cuff that rolls, folds and also pushes up to the elbow and stays nicely.  (See my post on "Skinny Bits", girls.  Show those forearms!)  I've got arms like a gorilla and the length was fine for me, but would also be easily adjustable for women with more humanly-average arms. ;-)

The scoopneck isn't too low to wear the dress alone, but it also is deeply-cut enough to allow for layering, which can make for a much more casual look.  The store displayed this piece in grey over the Ruffle-Front Herringbone-Print Perfect Shirt in riviera blue, and the blue/grey combo was stunning.  I tried the black over the Ruffle-Front Vine-Print Perfect Shirt in blossom and the effect was equally beautiful.  This particular Perfect Shirt, by the way (in both prints) is great for layering because the cotton/silk fabric is light and fluid.  For a slightly dressier layered look (and with the bonus of adding no extra bulk to your sleeves), we tried the sleeveless Frances cami and Kelsey top.  Both looked great and I especially liked the Kelsey top myself.  Again, the color choices for mixing and matching are endless.  I think the deeply-saturated colors like plum raisin would be gorgeous with the grey or camel dress.

We also belted the Meribel dress up (layered and by itself) and can I tell you how beyond adorable this dress is worn as a tunic??  I tried it over leggings (the best, we decided), over the Ankle Stretch Toothpick jeans that I had worn into the store (also very cute), and over the Minnie pants in black and khaki (this we liked but not as much). 

Finally, my PS and I played around with wearing this alone as a "little black dress" and glamming it up.   Both the Tiered Crystal Libretto necklace and the Crystal Symphony necklace much-loved by our pal A Bigger Closet looked beautiful with the dress.  We also layered those larger pieces with some of the smaller-scaled necklaces, as Jenna no doubt would do, and the effect was stunning.

Lesson learned big-time on this fun and unexpected shopping trip:  Visit smaller JC stores that aren't as heavily-trafficked.  While they can't stock as much merchandise, this store still had great things and almost every tee shirt that has been sold out at the larger B&M's here in Atlanta for weeks.  When I commented on that and told the manager how surprised I'd been to find the doggies tee, let alone all of these OTHER tees, she manager said "Yes, that happens to us a lot, and we wonder why more people don't FIND us out here."  I WILL from now on!

I took home the doggies tee, plus the Evening Primrose cardi and a very fun Skinny Studded Belt that I don't see on the website yet in a color called "Fresh Pear" that's the exact color of the splash of citron yellow in the EP cardi.  Look for it if you've bought that cardi or the EP silk top!

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