In an age when time is always at a premium, "going home to change" between work and play is almost never an option. This fact of life has made the go-everywhere dress a wardrobe essential, and you're going to see it everywhere this spring.
In chemise, sheath and trapeze shapes, the dress-me-up/dress-me-down dress is a flattering alternative to the dress-for-success suit or sportswear combos that are so much a part of the workaday office scene.
"The dress is easy, comfortable and versatile," says Bruce Binder, vice-president/fashion director Macy's Northeast. "It can be dressed up for evening and down for casual occasions and still look terrific for the office.
The careful shopper can find dresses that pack a lot of fashion punch and pizzazz at penny-pinching prices. If you have ever added up the cost of a blazer, skirt, sweater or shirt, the total may have taken you by surprise. But with a dress, well, what you invest is what you get.
Most of today's snappy little dresses can team with jackets in your wardrobe to turn them into a suit look; paired up with a coat, it becomes an ensemble.
"The junior market, that whole generation that wears jeans, is discovering the dress. This could be the decade of the dress," says Binder.
The younger set likes minis that take their cue from the '60s. Zip-front, cut-out trapezes are a salute to Courreges, king of the '60s go-go boots/mini dress. Hip-belted dresses, now from designers such as Nicole Miller, have a Marlo Thomas "That Girl" feeling.
Comfort is a factor, as is the price/impact ratio. But never discount the fact that the dress is nearly effortless ... it doesn't HTC take a lot of thought, fashion savvy or acumen to pull together. It's fast fashion put it on, zip it up and off you go.