How to Wear a Floral Dress Without Looking Like a Doll

I have a closet full of contradictions. To the right are folded the trends I thought I would never get over (poplin, collarless blouses, self-frayed jeans, white sneakers) and to the left are all the trends I thought I’d never try, but fell into anyway. At the top of this list are the only two garments I own by Vetements: a pair of jeans (that I love so much) and metallic pink boots (that I have never worn). Among the rest of the trends I love but thought I’d never try: knee-length skirts (I have a complex from attending Orthodox Jewish day school); shapely trousers; cropped, fitted sweaters and tea dresses. So many tea dresses. I can’t stop saying tea dresses!

For the tea dresses, I blame the panoply of runway designers who genuinely impact the way we want to dress. I never get over how easy it is to manipulate a consumer into believing they are having a unique or independent thought (“I never knew I loved tea dresses but just like that, randomly, out of nowhere, I do!”). Of course, it’s not actually random or out of nowhere: Céline had long-sleeve, ankle-length dresses running rampant down its Spring runway, Gucci has been heralding the shape since Alessandro Michele took his post, Maria Grazia Chiuri has turned Dior into a case study in ladylike dresses and Dolce & Gabbana are probably rolling their eyes. They’ve been doing this since fruit was still just fruit — hold the print.

My problem with dresses, generally, is that they say too much. They’re too convicted about who they are. When you wear a dress, you wear a single sentiment for everyone to acknowledge. In one, you might be a vixen (I hate this word). In another, an absolute dame. And in a tea dress, you’re delicate and dainty and floral. But I’m more complicated than that! I have so much more to give — to say! So here are three ways to wear very feminine tea dresses without feeling like you’re not you. Or I’m not me. Or whatever.

Teadresses April 2017 Man Repeller-3494

You probably can’t even tell that this dress is essentially the motherload when it comes to meeting your in-laws (here’s a link to it pre-me). It is as proper as they come. And it’s beautiful, but for today and right now, I feel more jovial than a mere dress; I want a peplum, I want another print, I want shoes that make me feel like if not handled thoughtfully, I could easily look like Jessica Simpson.

Teadresses April 2017 Man Repeller-3450

This was a cool case study in turning a dress (dainty and tank-y) into a skirt, adding shoes that further perpetuate the inherent femininity of the dress, but then fucking that shit up with a Matrix-style patent-leather trench that genuinely makes me feel like I can fly. Moving on!

Teadresses April 2017 Man Repeller-3434

Finally, for the sake of demonstrating that if you hate layers or don’t want to obliterate your dresses with shirts and belts and jackets and the like, here’s one that lets the dress be what it is with unexpected sock boots (easily replicable) that conceal the entire ankle and a pair of sunglasses because I have apparently established that you need them to tell your story.

I’m so glad it’s Friday — what should we do tonight?

Photos by Edith Young.

Get more Fashion ?
  • Your last outfit #3 Leandra, looks like has come out from the movie “All The Rivers Run”, romantic, fragile yet powerful.

  • Anna

    That Matrix trench with those fluro green shoes is to die for!

  • Kay Nguyen

    You have such an amazing style! Love the last look <3

  • BarbieBush

    @Leandra RE sock boots–easily replicable how?? Those chanel ones are a rare item I pine over and consider changing my entire life to be able to own.

    Heels and socks just don’t seem like they would do the same. Or maybe a very specific heel and sock would be necessary..

    • Leandra Medine

      Patent leather pumps and regular ribbed socks!

  • Natali

    I could never even think of combining those outfits the way you did! Majestic! Thanks for the inspo!

  • Amelia Diamond

    ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh you look cool.

  • Rheanonn Perez

    LOOK #3 IS SO GOOD!!! carrie bradshaw vibezz.

  • Harling Ross

    That short-sleeved tiger jacket is a torso dream

  • I totally agree about florals – I always look like a horseback rider wearing them! Great ideas for how to layer and add to pull away from the sweet girl look.

    P.S. You have great feet/ankles! They look so good in shoes. <3

  • Amalia Francesca Webber

    @Leandra Hi Leandra! I think the super cute shoes in the first photo are linked incorrectly?

  • Coco

    Leandra, you have done it again!

  • Hannah Cole


    I sift through the dresses lurking in my wardrobe and give up on them quickly – it’s often so hard to make them ‘different’ or ‘unique’ or ‘me’ – something more than a simple throw-on that requires genuine thought and creative juice.

  • Sinead O’Connell

    How do you do that cool relaxed belt tie in pics 1-3? I’m walking around here with mad bows looking silly

    • Leandra Medine

      I tied it instead of actually belting it and after bunny-looping the tie pulled up to tighten instead of sideways. does this make sense?

      • Sinead O’Connell

        Total sense. Amen. Thank you 🙏

  • Rose Pink

    The statement enamel green clutch in the last set totally makes the floral dress no longer a standard fairy piece, so gorgeous!

  • Elli rvs

    where is the snake ring from!?!