Sunday, December 15, 2013

My "Uzbek" Dress: Part 1

Part 2 is here.

I was playing with my clothes recently, trying to find a way to combine pieces which I added to my wardrobe this year to the pieces which I have owned for a while. One of the most challenging pieces in my wardrobe, I found, was this beautiful Ikat dress which I purchased over a year ago, but had no success styling until just recently.

I spotted this dress in the Summer 2012 Chico's catalog and instantly fell in love. I tried to style it exactly as it was represented - as a summer dress, but got disappointed. I felt like the rich, jewel-like colors, the simple shape of the dress and complicated pattern did not work with my body type and complexion (for some reason, it just didn't look right with my bare legs too). To be honest with you, it never made much sense to me that the dress was advertised as a summer dress. So many things about it are not summery at all - the long sleeves, the fact that the dress is half lined, and the colors of course. So I've decided to try using it as a fall/winter layering piece, playing on the rich colors of this garment - one at a time. 

Take #1

At first, I simply put dark opaque tights on - and they changed the entire look. Then I added a cardigan and/or a blazer - and I was amazed with the way this dress changed on me! 
So here is my first, purple take on it.

I call it my "Uzbek" dress because this is how this type of pattern is familiar to me. The territory which now is known as Uzbekistan adopted the Ikat (or Ikkat) technique in XIX century and became very famous for it. Growing up in the USSR, I was familiar with similar patterns because Uzbekistan was a part of the USSR and a part of our Soviet culture. The rest you know - the Ikat pattern became very "in" in the last couple of years, hardly any brand wasn't doing something Ikat-ish. (actually, Ikat is a type of dyeing technique, similar to tie-dye, but in the fashion industry we mostly see a stylized pattern imitating the traditional technique). I have a couple of dresses and a shirt in Ikat patterns. And what about you, my dear readers? Do you wear Ikat? How do you style it?

Mid-19 century Ikat, silk and cotton, Uzbekistan, Smithsonian collections. Photo from Wikipedia

Take #2
And here is my teal take on the colorful dress:

So what have I learned?
Well, to be honest that I just needed to add a few new pieces to my wardrobe. That is what I was doing this year, especially the last few months - I was building my wardrobe adding some necessary basic pieces to it (such as cardigans, shoes, blazers, pencil skirts). And yes, they were absolutely necessary to add, so I can play with what I owned for years, but what was buried in my closet without good companions, just like this Ikat dress. With a few extra items (which do not have to be expensive - I buy almost all my clothes on sale), I am able to create new outfits much more effectively and with so much more fun. In this particular case, I think, the most important were tights and a cardigan and/or jacket. Then you just add layers for cold weather, like a good old coat... But that is another part of My "Uzbek" Dress story. :) 

Ikat dress by Chico's (old). Cardigans by Old Navy. Faux leather jacket by Christopher and Banks (the red version was shown here). Boiled wool jacket by Lands' End (via Goodwill). Tights by Hue. Shoes by Dansko. Malachite bracelets - vintage and art fair finds. Earrings via Goodwill.


  1. Orange, purple and teal are three of my very favorite colors, so you were bound to win me over with this combination. I also enjoy what is, for me at least, the Mediterranean style of the dress. The follower of "things Greek and Roman" in me finds that sort of cut very appealing. Mix in all those amazing colors, and I'm hooked!

    1. Thanks, Justin! What a fun comment! Yes, I guess you are right - the cut of the dress definitely has a Mediterranean feel to it. :) And I know that you looooove colors! :)