Cotton tee dresses: why do I own so many, and which should I keep?

There are certain wardrobe categories that I wear rarely -- and yet feel drawn to, constantly. One is t-shirt or tank dresses. I do wear them - they're a favorite of mine for summer conferences. (Biologists basically have summer camp. Always in New England or Long Island, always hot and humid and casual and rural.) But my San Francisco climate is too chilly for me to wear them often.

Everlane just released a collection of refined knit cotton dresses, so I ordered some to try out. But, while waiting and waiting (their shipping is all messed up right now, after they changed warehouses), I also found this cheap Uniqlo alternative, the dress-length version of a Uniqlo tee I own and love.

Meanwhile, I also looked through my current possessions to see whether there really is a wardrobe hole here.

1 (new option) Everlane tee dress. I love it. It is $50, which is a fair price, but not nothing. Heavy, smooth knit cotton. It has a sort of casual elegance that I like quite a bit, and the length is good on me, I think.

2 (new option) Everlane tank dress, same material. I don't love it -- too athletic looking -- so I'll return it. One useful note: It is much shorter than I usually buy, yet actually looks great at that length on my short legs, so I will keep in mind that I should buy shorter skirts.

3 (new option) Uniqlo French sleeve mercerized tee dress. Lovely smooth fabric. It looks cooler and more distinctive in person than in the photo, I think -- when I tried it on in the store, I had to have it. Though, it is tempting to remove the ribbed neckline to open it up a bit. Thing is, it fills the same niche as the Everlane dress, and it was $8 instead of $50. If I hadn't come across this one, I'd keep the Everlane dress, but now I am really torn.

4 (old) J Crew tank dress. Very casual. Light t-shirt material, with a smooth finish. I've worn this at almost every conference I've attended for the past few years. It isn't worn out yet, but it's a bit shapeless and oversized, perhaps? But I like the relaxed shape, so I'll probably keep wearing it. Sometimes I throw a linen button-down over it.

5 (old) Old Everlane tee dress. Heavy t-shirt fabric, interesting pockets. I loved this for several years, and it was another conference mainstay. But it is probably 1/2 a size too small now, and it gets caught awkwardly on my butt. I feel self conscious wearing it, so it's sat in my closet unworn for the past two years. Should I sell it on Poshmark? I do love it though.

Should I keep the first Everlane dress? The Uniqlo dress? Neither? Should I pass along the old Everlane dress or add it back into my usual wardrobe?

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29 Comments

  • bj1111 replied 1 week ago

    style fidelity!

    the difference between the new everlane and the new uniqlo is in the sleeve.  the everlane sleeve is more refined, the uniqlo more casual.  there may be a slight difference in the fit in the back.  i thought i detected a bit more hitching on the uniqlo, but that might just be an adjustment.  

    how do you feel when you walk around in either?  does either ride up or bunch weirdly?

    re the old everlane, sell it on, and use the $$ for more fab stuff.  or cut to a length that you can wear with high waist jeans/pants.

  • Elle replied 1 week ago

    I really love the new Everlane one on you.  Great length and it seems more elegant on you than the Uniqlo one.  I do like the Uniqlo one just not as much. If you keep it, I'd open up the neckline.  If budget matters, return the Everlane one.  Sorry I'm not much help.

    About your older Everlane dress.  It's unique and you love it, so I'd hold onto it for a while longer. I don't see any problems with it but I haven';t seen it in motion either. 

    How did the sizing run on the new Everlane dress?  I'm tempted, although we almost never have summer weather here.

  • Sal replied 1 week ago

    At a glance I like 3 better - but I also like 1.  But they probably are similar enough to only have one.  I like them both a lot on you.

    2 I agree has a sporty vibe but the length is nice.

    4 looks great for casual days - I would continue to wear

    5- pass on or sell.  The length is great but I feel it is kind of an in between fit now.

  • Greyscale replied 1 week ago

    bj1111 - Intriguing idea about turning the Everlane dress into a top! I never think to alter knit things.

    There is more hitching on the Uniqlo dress, but it looks ok in person, in a way that's hard to explain. Like it creates a waist line. 

    Looking at the photos is educational. The Uniqlo dress is less flattering than I'd thought in the mirror (but some of that might be that black clothes are hard to photograph). And, I think the old Everlane dress just isn't my style anymore! The photo doesn't inspire me, and I don't love where it hits my thighs.

  • Greyscale replied 1 week ago

    Elle - I'm usually between an XS and S for Everlane, and I ordered both sizes. I tried on the XS (shown in photos) and then I didn't even bother opening the S because the XS was the right fit. Usually it's a little more ambiguous. So I wouldn't say it runs big, exactly, but on the more generous side of their fit. Chest, shoulders, hips all fit comfortably. The old Everlane dress is also an XS and it is definitely a tighter fit, by comparison.

  • bj1111 replied 1 week ago

    yes, the hitching does give the uniqlo a bit of a back blouson effect.  

  • Janet replied 1 week ago

    I prefer the Everlane (1) over the Uniqlo (3). I can see all of them being useful. 

  • Elle replied 1 week ago

    Thanks for the size info.  I'll probably try the S and justify it by wearing it to a casual LA wedding

  • Angie replied 1 week ago

    I like #1 (Everlane)

    I LOVE #3 (Uniqlo) KILLER. 

    I vote pass on the rest. The longer two look more current and flattering to my eye. 

  • Greyscale replied 1 week ago

    I guess another question - will I actually wear the long dress, whichever I keep? Is this casual enough that I'd just wear it walking around town, or would it always feel like a special item? I have another maxi-length tank dress that I should sell because it reads as too formal for me despite the t-shirt fabric (but it is floor length, unlike these).

  • Greyscale replied 1 week ago

    Thanks, Angie! I think I'll demote the old J Crew dress to weekend campouts and such, and pass along the old Everlane dress.

    For those who are interested, the Uniqlo dress really does pack a lot of style punch for $20 (mine was discounted to $8 because of a makeup stain that came right out). It feels a bit avant garde, and the mercerized cotton is quite nice. I've already washed the t-shirt version that I bought a few weeks earlier, and the finish on the fabric stayed nice and smooth, and with less lint-trap behavior than some treated cottons. The dress only comes in black, navy, and beige, but the cropped tee version comes in a bunch of fall colors.

  • cindysmith replied 1 week ago

    I love the new everlane on you (pic 1)!

  • Liz A. replied 1 week ago

    I like the Uniqlo on you the least.

  • rachylou replied 1 week ago

    Exactly what Angie said. 1 & 3.

  • shevia replied 1 week ago

    I like the longer ones and the Everlane long one best.

  • lisa p replied 1 week ago

    Looking at this on my phone so can’t keep track of what is what - but see the longer lengths as your more flattering option . Love the first dress a lot . Not so keen on short on you. I’m wearing a black tshirt dress a lot this summer too . Hits just below my knee which makes me feel more “dressed” .

  • Joy replied 1 week ago

    I would keep #1 and look for a sleeveless version that you like to replace the JCrew. That would make 2 dresses. Maybe a third (or 2nd) could be a dark neutral other than black, like olive, navy or charcoal or even a denim dress. 2 dresses or maybe 3 seem like the right amount unless you will be dealing with more hot weather than usual.

  • Gigi replied 1 week ago

    My favorite is #1. I would probably sell the old Everlane on Poshmark. I find that if I haven't worn something for a couple of years, I start to "move on" emotionally, and then I don't want to wear it even if it fits; I'm ready for something new.

  • viva replied 1 week ago

    I'm biased because I have the first Everlane dress, but in a sagey color rather than black. Seeing yours, I think black would have probably been a better choice in terms of long-term wear but I just loved the lighter color. 

    I love the way the long Everlane dress fits you - it's very elegant. I have less love for the rest. The Uniqlo is really interesting but not as elegant as the Everlane. I find that a tough call: elegant vs interesting. Do you have room for both, especially if you let go of some of the shorter ones?

  • Suz replied 1 week ago

    I really like the Everlane. That's a keeper. I'm intrigued by bj's suggestion to shorten the old one to a top. I also like the long Uniglo. For $8 what is to lose?

  • Becky replied 1 week ago

    I much prefer the Everlane tee dress to the Uniqlo dress.

  • Sisi replied 1 week ago

    In my opinion the Everlane dress (pic 1) beats them all. I think you will wear it a lot, it is a great casual dress.

  • suntiger replied 1 week ago

    I like the 1st Everlane the most, the sleeve is more flattering, and the slit too. The sleeveless one is my second favourite. Sometimes its just too hot for sleeves of any sort!

  • Greyscale replied 1 week ago

    Thanks for all the feedback! Consensus seems to be that both long dresses look good and the Everlane is more flattering. I’m tempted to keep both, given how cheap the Uniqlo dress was, even if I’m unlikely to need two. There’s an old wildcard maxi dress I might sell, freeing up a hanger to keep both - I’ll post a pic of it tomorrow.

  • DonnaF replied 1 week ago

    I wear short dresses with cropped kick flare jeans or cropped straights but that’s just me.

  • Kathie replied 1 week ago

    I much prefer the sleeve and neckline of #1-2, as compared to #5/6. 7/8 looks a bit too loose through the bust- more like a beach/pool cover-up, and 9/10 seems to gape at the neck in the back, so I’d pass those both along.

  • kkards replied 1 week ago

    one more vote for the new everlane....while i like the uniqlo, i prefer the rounder neck line on the everlane vs the higher more traditional crewneck on the uniqlo...

  • Angie replied 1 week ago

    Keep the Uniqlo! My fave :)

  • Greyscale replied 1 week ago

    Don't worry, Angie, I kept it! I'm wearing it today to consignment stores and a funky literary event where its odd shape will be appreciated. At $8, it wasn't a hard decision. Still debating the Everlane one also, since it's certainly more conventionally flattering, though they do seem awfully redundant.

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