Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I could earn from qualifying purchases you might make in the links below. I bought all of these voluntarily for my trip and really feel that these dresses, or something like them, would be great for your next trip!
I purchased all of these dresses in a massive attempt to pack perfectly for 10 days in Europe in June. I knew it would be hot, so I had a few requirements:
- I had to be cool (temperature wise, not stylish)
- I had to have the flexibility to go into Churches appropriately dressed
- Okay, I wanted to be a little stylish
- I wanted to be wrinkle-free(ish)!
- I wanted to pack light.
So, the issue became that if I wore shorts I’d limit my Church chances, pants could have been incredibly hot, and either way, I’d also have to bring shirts. Dresses seemed to be the solution, but I was worried about looking like a hot mess!
How did I determine if a dress would come with me on the trip?
I invented, and did, the dress test.
Of course, I tried the dress on. Was it long enough? Comfortable? Did it make me feel like I was stuffed into it? If I liked the first impression, the dress passed round one. I then wore the dress for a day. To work.
I’m a teacher, that means so a lot of walking, awkward positions where I need to be modest, sitting, being outside and inside, etc. The ultimate dress workout.
If the dress was cool enough, served me well at work, didn’t rapidly wrinkle or get uncomfortable during the day, it had passed round two and moved on to round three.
I attacked the dress.
Let’s be honest: when traveling, we are unkind to our clothes. They get smooshed, unfolded, pressed up against dirty clothes, and generally abused.
So, to see if they could handle the pressure, I abused my dresses. If they couldn’t, they didn’t come with me to Europe.
I balled each test dress into a tight and tiny, disorganized ball. I felt like a rebel! Then I shoved the dress unceremoniously underneath a big pillow that would maintain pressure, and waited a few days.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to the world: The Dress Test.
If the dress wasn’t wrinkled after that abuse, it had passed round three and came with me on the trip!
I started buying dresses on Amazon. Here are the ones I bought, along with my explanations/reviews/uses of each one. I bought 12 dresses total, but only took 9. Because I’m using Amazon affiliate links below, I’m not allowed to tell you the pricing for each dress, but basically, they were all very budget friendly (and their current prices show in the previews below).
(Note: 9 dresses on a 12 day vacation isn’t really excessive. I was able to roll up the dresses and used a big packing cube, so they took up significantly less room than if I had brought pants/shirts, and gave me a really large variety in what I wore on the trip.)
The Good Dresses:
I wore this dress more than one day on the trip and for one day when we came back and it was still wrinkle-free and comfortable!
I actually bought two of these dresses. I don’t usually wear a maxi dress, but this particular maxi dress is very light and not hot. I wore one on the plane on the way to Italy (which was great for the overnight flight because I never got cold but also didn’t get hot), and I wore the other dress to the Vatican because it covered my knees, as well as on the plane ride back.
I actually bought three of these dresses, and two came with me to Europe. With that being said, this black dress is the only one I wore! These dresses wrinkled somewhat, but with the black dress, you couldn’t tell at all. I actually wore this dress for a casual photo shoot while we were in Florence, and it looked nice but not overly formal, hid some of my insecurities, and looked like it had been hanging in the closet since I had arrived in Italy! (It had, by the way, been rolled up inside my suitcase for 8 days and had been moved between 4 cities at that point, so much love to this dress!)
This dress hid wrinkles, was cute, and honestly is just fun to wear. Plus, pockets! Actually, a lot of these dresses had pockets! But I felt good and upbeat when I wore this dress. The only downside is that I bought it long enough before the trip so it had been washed a few times, and has been washed since, and is starting to fade just a tick. I think a lighter color would be less of an issue, but for the wear and joy this dress has given me, I’d purchase it again!
The Dresses I LOVED:
This is definitely my FAVORITE new dress. I actually bought two of these (you can see me wearing both in some of the pictures on this post) and brought them both on the trip. The first dress I listed is from the same company, but the two that are my favorites are here. They’re light enough to not be hot, and the fabric is thick enough to not feel flimsy or cheap. The prints really pop in person and feel fun, and the dress is great quality and will last a long time. If you only get ONE of the dresses on this list, get this one! The only reason I did not buy 9 different prints to bring (haha) is that because the dress was sleeveless, I knew I’d need a lightweight sweater to bring with me to cover my shoulders for Churches, and while that’s fine, I didn’t want to take one with me every day I went out, so I wanted some cap or short sleeve dresses, too. I can’t wait to wear this dress again!
The Dresses I Liked, But Left At Home:
This is the link to the black dress I bought above, but in different color choices. The dress is light, which is great for Florida, and I liked the Army green and purple colors that I purchased. These colors, however, showed wrinkles a lot and this dress was more prone to wrinkles, much more so than the black. So while I’m happy with these casual dresses and will wear them outside of the trip, I didn’t take them. Well, actually, I did bring the purple with me, but never wore it because of the wrinkles. I should have left it at home with the green, but overall it is a good dress.
The Less Good Dresses (Not Bad, Just Not For Me):
Maybe I bought the wrong size, but what I was hoping would be a bright, happy dress was instead a see-through, curve-hugging dress of sadness. No thanks. I donated it.
This dress was okay, and passed the wrinkle test all right, but the sizing was off from the chart. Much too big, and while I can wear it, I feel like I’m wearing a bag. Plus, it faded after one wash and was sleeveless. It is now in my donate pile.
This dress was very strange! It was nicely loose but was cut very strangely on the hem. The sides of the dress were actually shorter than the middle and front. It definitely would not have worked in a Church, but I also wouldn’t personally wear it in public. Just odd. It also is heading to the donate pile.
What I learned:
- I learned that synthetic fabrics rule. Is cotton easy and higher quality looking than synthetic fibers? Sure! But does it hold up well with wrinkles? Absolutely not. Synthetic seems to be the way to go on trips (though not all are created equal).
- I learned that the dress test is a beautiful thing. You could use this method for anything you want to take on a trip. A hat? Smoosh it for a few days and see if it still looks good. A coat? Pants? Stress them and see how they’ll work. Then you can have a worry-free trip (at least, regarding your clothes)!
- I learned that less can be more. Throw in two different light sweaters and I easily could have worn these dresses multiple days (I wore some of them more than once, but I didn’t necessarily plan it that way), and I wouldn’t have looked like I was wearing the same thing.
- I learned that you should care less! You’re going to show up to your destination and not be nude, so that’s a huge plus. If you are a little wrinkled or wear the same outfit twice, you’re still going to have a great time. Don’t be afraid to look like you’re living out of a suitcase when you’re a tourist, because you are living out of one! Don’t be offensive or draw attention in case it puts you in danger, but otherwise, pack practically and move on.
- Oh, and wear dark colors. Food stains are not cute 🙂
If you’re interested in more of our Italy trip, check out the post, “13 Experiences in Italy.” More Italy posts are on the way, so be sure to sign-up for the newsletter to keep up to date with my latest blog posts!