Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Product Review: Ruffled Carly Dress

Ruffled Carly Dress
Click here for product page
Item 21494
Price: $98.00

If you stop by a brick & mortar (B&M) J.Crew store, you may have noticed a new Spring dress, the Ruffled Carly, hanging on the racks. J.Crew describes this dress as the following:
Our designers detailed this sweet dress with rows and rows of ruffles then garment-dyed it for gorgeous saturated color. Spun from pure 100% cotton, you'll love the comfort and ease. A great transitional piece that you can wear layered during winter (try it with leggings and a sweater) and on it's own come spring and summer. Tiers of washed cotton. Shift silhouette. Slightly fitted at waist. Straight bodice, slight A-line skirt. Ruffled collar. Metal buttons. Short sleeves with turned-back cuffs. Unlined. Falls above knee.
A big "thanks!" to Jennifer who shared her review of this dress. The following is her review:
J.Crew describes this dress as follows: "Our designers detailed this sweet dress with rows and rows of ruffles then garment-dyed it for gorgeous saturated color. Spun from pure 100% cotton, you'll love the comfort and ease. A great transitional piece that you can wear layered during winter (try it with leggings and a sweater) and on it's [sic] own come spring and summer."

I hadn't seen this dress online before I popped into my B&M store, where the personal shopper recommended it highly. It was a new arrival, and she was excited to see someone try it on. I was also excited, since I love ruffles, and the dark grey (which appears to be no longer available as of 17 Jan) is one of my favorite colors. The two sizes of ruffles add visual interest, and the change from small to large ruffles provides nice waist definition.

I found this dress problematic for a number of reasons. First, although the construction is impeccable, the cut is oversized in general. I tried on my usual size and swam in it, so I would recommend sizing down. Even one size smaller than my usual had plenty of room in the shoulders, arms, and bust, my usual problem places.

Secondly, and the rear view photo on the website illustrates this nicely, this dress is cut STRAIGHT up and down in the back. For anyone with rear curves, this will be a less than flattering fit. On me, the dress fit fine around my butt, but then went straight up my back, making me look like a ruffled column--not my best look, to say the least!

Undeterred, I tried the dress open over the perfect fit ruffle tank with a matching belt, hoping that this would solve the extra volume problem. Unfortunately, a slim belt with this dress only accented the bagginess of the dress, and the dress went back on the hanger.

Has anyone else had success styling this dress, or is this just the wrong cut for my body type?
But wait, there's more! A big "thanks!" to DinDin who shared her review of this dress, as well as some real-life images. The following is her review:
The carly dress: SUPRISE! I like it!

I got this in the same size I get for perfect shirts and all other dresses. I thought this would make me look heavier but I think this dress has a good shape which eliminates that problem.

I'm 5'2" and I think this dress is a nice length for me. But I suspect it will be too short for anyone that is tall. This hits like 2-3 inches above my knee and when I bend over it gets even shorter in the back! On the model in the online photo it looks to be about the same length as on me, so I'm not sure how that is possible. Maybe the distance from her knees to her ankles is exceptionally long making her tall overall.

The weight of the dress is nice, it's not see through thin but it's not super heavy either. It would be good with tights now and in the spring and summer bare legged. And the best thing is that it is cotton so I can machine wash it.

The ruffles aren't loose and crazy, they are stitched down a bit so they don't go flying about which I think contributes to the good shape of the dress.

Overall, 4 out of 5 stars. I know some people on the blog will tell me I look horrible in it, but, go on, I don't care, I like it.
"Thanks!" again to Jennifer & DinDin for their great reviews of this dress! I love these styles of shift dresses, however they never seem to work for my pear-shaped frame— either the top fits fine but the bottom is too tight, or the bottom fits fine and the top is too loose.

What are your thoughts on the Ruffled Carly Dress? Have you tried on or own this dress? If so, what is your review of the fit & style? Would you recommend it to another fellow JCA?


  1. I bought this dress today at my B&M in the grey that seems to be only available in stores. I think it is a pretty color and agree with both of the reviewers in that it can easily be worn now with tights and a sweater or jacket and in the spring with bare legs (or over a bathing suit in the summer).

    I agree that the dress is a little boxy and not that fitted and I think I may wear it belted with a skinny belt as in the J.Crew photo.

    The ruffles are very cute and really give the dress some interest and I love the fact that it is cotton and machine washable!

  2. You know, I blasted this dress on my blog (I thought it was SUPER ugly and a joke) but seeing it on you I actually REALLY like it. Damn. I might have to delete that post.

  3. The website is being updated if anyone is looking for a pop-back.

  4. Now we just need a free shipping code. Pretty pretty please!!!

  5. I should have mentioned, there is no puffiness from the side. and the dress is machine washable because it's cotton.

  6. It doesn't even look good on the skinny model. And I'm so sick of "rows and rows of ruffles". Can't they make something other than ruffles, sequins, beads, or raw-edged chiffon? Definitely a pass for me.

  7. The dress is a pass for me too. I'm all ruffled out!

  8. I bought this dress because it was so versatile, and love the layers! I think it looks fabulous with a skinny belt and long cardigan like the pink sequin pocket cardigan.

  9. Although I like the dress and think it looks great on the model and Dina, it's a pass for me. I wore enough ruffled dresses/skirts up to 1989 and I can't go back. :)

  10. I tried this on in the gray and passed. It's really cute, well made. A little boxy but the real problem for me was ... the cotton fabric wrinkles like CRAZY! It was a mess on the hanger, a mess when I tried it on, and a GIANT MESS after I sat down in it for 5 seconds in the dressing room. No amount of steaming could make this one work for me.

  11. Ruffles,
    I agree. I would not want to have to "care" for this dress in any shape or form. Ironing. Nightmare.
    Plus, I haven't seen it on anyone that if truly flatters including the model. Might look OK on a tween though.

  12. OT, but I received the shale and pink suckered shirts last night as well as the crosshatch cotton skirt in pewter. I give the skirt high marks as it fits much like my perfect pencils. It is a nice, heavy weight and is fully lined and the fabric is pretty.

    I ordered both the pink and shale in the suckered shirt as I could not decide which color I preferred online. Both colors were less bright than they appeared on my monitors and the fabric was more sheer (a minus) and less puckered (a plus) than they looked in the pictures. The shale is great, but is not a keeper for me as I already have the Rick shirt in slate and do not need two fairly neutral checked shirts. The pink was awful. It was poorly sewn with crooked top stitching and three damaged areas. The band around the collar was fraying right at the front, the bottom on the placket was not caught where it was turned under and there was a hole by one of the cuffs. I was really looking forward to this color and was really dissapointed, especially as the shale appears to be very well made. How can they have this much inconsistency in the same shirt? Anyway, they are both going back and I haven't decided if I am going to reorder and hope for a better pink one. Shame on you J Crew. Inspect your items, please. There is no reason this shirt should have ever been sent to a customer.

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. kitsmommy,

    Sorry to hear about your shirt. I have had similar problems with like items in different colors recently as well.

    Quality control is expensive and costs $$$. JCrew is obviously not chosing to spend their money on it!

    So until they change their tune, which likely they will not as money is everything, we will have to suffer through these issues.

  15. I love the look of this dress - it's nice for the transition of winter into spring. Sadly, I think it would be too short on me (I am 5'8). Too bad

  16. I loved both of your reviews! I love this dress and I was curious how it fit on other people. Hearing both the positive and negative, I think I'll have to go try it on and see for myself!

  17. I am throwing this out there only because my name is dinagideon and dina reviewed the same dress I did!!! Dina and I are different individuals...just in case some of you were wondering why I did a completely different review of this dress for JCA! :)

    Dina, you look FAB! Love it on you!

    I dressed it up for my blog with the microsequin long cardi (blush pink), a wide distressed leather belt, and the birch metropolitan ankle boots. I quite like the way it looked paired with all that extra stuff...

    It is a tad large, for me esp. in the upper body (fine on my lower half--sheath dresses, ergh!). I plan on having my tailor nip and tuck the top part, so if I want to wear it unbelted, I can.

    You know what? The first time I saw it, I was all, " is AWFUL." As a JOKE I tried it on...cannot believe how much I ended up liking it!

    The styling ideas for this dress is over at the My Superfluities blog.

  18. I tried this dress on and quickly took it off. It was too boxy for me, as I am curvy; it looked like i was wearing a ruffly bag. I did see a girl with a straighter figure who had it on, and it looked cute on her.

  19. OT but for those who were waiting for the other pencil skirt colors to go on sale, check out the sale section. They're $20 cheaper. Not a huge cut, so I'll personally wait for a % off sale or something. But nice to see that they finally marked these down.

  20. BIG pass for me. I don't get does nothing for a woman's body, just not flattering on anyone. Sorry. Not exciting.

  21. I actually work at a J.Crew, and missed the first shipment of this dress that sold out very quickly. Luckily we just got it in again, and I was able to snag it quickly. We also only got in the charcoal/navy color, and I'm pretty sure that this color is online only, while you can grab olive or light amethyst online.
    I loved this dress in the catolog, but was sure the ruffles would look awful IRL, and it might look like I borrowed a dress from Crewcuts; however, I got rave reviews from everyone in the store when I tried it on, and am in love with how it fits. : )

  22. I didn't even bother with this dress the first time I saw it. Then I read dinagideon's review and thought OK I'll try it on. I still did not like it on me (I am not a ruffle fan), but it looks amazing on dinagideon - esp when she pairs it with a belt.

  23. Way too short for me, but I think it could be cute on the right person, with the right shoes.

    OT--I have pics and reviews up for the navy scalloped petal top and the ultra knit weekend pants on my blog if anyone wants to see pics.

  24. I ordered this and it went right back. Pornographically short on my 5'9" frame. Also, I found the top part to be bulky and the horizontal ruffles made me look wider, so I felt like a football player! On a positive note, the quality of the fabric is substantial.

  25. I searched 3 b&m to find this dress! I finally found one in my size (last one in the store) in the dark charcoal color! I LOVE it!! I have a very straight figure so maybe that's why it works on me!?! I can't wait to wear it this spring and summer. dinagideon's blog review and outfit ideas were very helpful as well! :) So thanks for the added advise ladies!!

    Just like any item- this works for some and not for others! ;) Some hate it while others love it!!

  26. Great post about this dress - I'm the same height and never thought I could carry this off, but it looks so darn cute on you. I think I was nervous about the ruffles overwhelming a "shortie" like me, but it's all about attitude, and if you love it, who's gonna stop you? :)

    OT:Hey Everyone, I'm looking for a little guidance here: Do you all have any hard and fast "rules" that you follow for JC clothes that aren't quite perfect but you love? Some formula where you do the cost calculation of altering vs. just leaving it behind in the store?

    I have an opportunity to get the JC Striped Merino Crewneck/James Stripe Henley - modeled by GiGi and Heidi G earlier (it's the bigger stripe, so I think it's the latter) for $41 in store, but it's a large. In a perfect world, I'm a M, as I can't stand tight fitting sweaters and will prolly layer with a tee or so. The problem is that the sleeves are way too long, thus probably meaning I cut out some of the decorative buttons if I try to alter (not free since this is final sale). I can live with the long bodice and love how the collar looks, but the sleeves are a whole different ball of wax.

    Thoughts please? :)

  27. dinagideon: sorry for the confusion, my google login in DinDin, but alexis likely just posted this under my name Dina, which shows up when I emailed her.

    But yes, I am not dinagideon. :) Although, she is a lovely person.

  28. Thanks for the reviews! I think it looks way cuter on than just hanging. Looks great on Dina "Stems" G, too!

  29. Dina is dindin and Dina is dinagideon!!! I love it! :) It is a fairly uncommon name, but I guess when it comes to J. Crew, we show our love.

    My name is actually a nickname, my formal name is a much more unusual name...

    Audball: I can give you zero advice on shortening the sleeves (every sleeve on every dress, top, and jacket are always bracelet sleeves on me), but I say if you really love something and anticipate that you will wear it enough to justify tailoring it, I say go for it. I tailor a lot, esp. with J. Crew. Some would tell me to look elsewhere if I have to tailor that much, but in all honesty, except for Boden, I have a hard time getting a perfect fit straightaway, a lot of American clothing companies make things straight up and down, which is not my shape at all...and since I adore J. Crew's styling, etc., it is worth it for me to tailor. HTH at least a little!

  30. audball - from my experience, when i have had sleeves shortened, it is done so from the shoulder. atleast that is how jcrew has always shortened sleeves for shirt and jackets for me. so losing buttons shouldn't be a problem

  31. thanks Dinagideon! I looked up shortening sweater sleeves and it appears that it can cost anywhere from $50-$80...yipes! But if the sleeves are just a few inches, you can do a fold-under and stitch...I'll have to try the sweater on again to know for sure :)

    But thank you!

  32. The dress makes me think of an armadillo (a little bit). But it's cute.

  33. I tried this on only after reading blog comments. It was all kinds of awful on me, but glad it works for others.

  34. I'm not a big fan of the dress. Regarding the length: why are so many dresses obscenely short now? Unless you're very petite, they're mid-thigh or above. I'm finding it nearly impossible to find work appropriate dresses.

    Kitsmommy, it certainly appears that JCrew is skipping quality inspections and just adding defective items to their regular stock. Not a smart move IMO. Your review totally eliminated my lemming for that shirt.

    Audball, shortening a sweater sleeve is a totally different process from shortening a shirt or jacket sleeve. The sleeves are knit to size. You can't just cut and hem them. It's going to be very expensive and work intensive to reknit the sleeves to size. I definitely wouldn't bother.

  35. Dina & Dina: Sorry for the confusion. I should have put "DinDin" instead of "Dina" which I do time to time. I just fixed it. I was quick to post and I should have double checked. Sorry again! And thanks to DinDin (Dina) for her great review. :)

  36. Jeanne: Yes, you are right - to shorten a sweater sleeve correctly takes someone who is very knowledgeable about knits and can actually finish off the edge of the sweater.

    But...I bought it anyway :)! I couldn't help it...the sleeve length wasn't terrible and I think I can McGyver the sleeves by removing the bottom two buttons and stitching under -- worst case scenario.

  37. I'm not a dress girl, but I *love* this one - it's kind of soft edgy and looks like it accessorizes itself. Thanks though, J. Crew, for refusing to make so many of your new offerings all the way up to a size 16 - you just saved me $98. I would have bought it full price (and considered springing for the shoes too).

  38. Audball, is it possible to just fold up the sleeve edge to form a "cuff"? Sometimes it's possible to do that and it looks like that's the way it's supposed to look.

  39. I really like this dress. Picked it up first in the dark grey and then returned it when the olive was released online. In the olive its got this crazy girlie military contrast going on that I like.

    I am a shorty so the length of this dress isn't a problem. I miss out on a lot of cute minis because they feel too darn short.

  40. Jeanne, that's a great suggestion...I'll try it but I'm thinking those buttons on the sleeve may make the cuff look clunky/chunky :). It's funny - I tried it on again in the store before purchasing and you know you have a winner on your hands when you manage to overlook something relatively big like "too long in the sleeve" LOL!. It's interesting because the SA who helped me owns the same sweater and though she has it in a smaller size, she says the sleeves are crazy long on her too....


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