I have been on a quest for the perfect dress.  Perfect for me, that is. And I do have some very specific requirements.  Requirements that I probably didn’t have when I was 30 years younger.  But you know how that is.  If you don’t know, you might be too young to relate to this essay.  Or possibly the rare male who subscribes to my blog.   In either case, there might not be anything in it for you, so continue at your own discretion.

The dress I’m seeking is not a dress for any special occasion.  Just a casual dress suitable for warm summer weather, a dress I can wear to Stop and Shop, and then easily transition to an informal evening at the Shake Shack.

It’s not that I have nothing to wear.  My closet is far from empty.  But I don’t own a dress.  And I’d really like to have one.  I’m not a fashionista, but I have noticed that dresses are very popular this summer.   I see them everywhere.  And the women who wear them seem so fashionably summery, even when they’re picking up poop in the dog park.  Whereas my dog park attire, while functional, might also be appropriate for boot camp.

I have glanced into the many clothing stores in my small town and noted that they are crammed with dresses.  I took that as a hopeful sign.  Surely there would be one that was just right for me.

But, as noted above, I do have some very specific requirements.  First, the dress must be collarless.  I have a thing about collars.  I don’t like them.  On me.  On some women, collars look fine.  But on me, they look like the top half of a parochial school uniform.  All that’s missing is the plaid, pleated skirt.

Sleeves, or lack thereof, is another matter.  Sleeves didn’t used to matter, but a few birthdays ago I decided that my ability to look attractive in sleeveless or stringy straps had reached its expiration date.  So, my preference for sleeves these days is longish, even though it’s summer.  And if not long, no less than precisely three inches above the elbow.  (I’ve decided to ignore any issues surrounding my elbows.  I can’t see them anyway.)

The length of my perfect dress is definitely below the knee, but ideally, it should reach the ankle.  Both of them.   While my legs remain one or two of my more attractive features, I prefer to leave the display of knees to women whose ages do not exceed the speed limit on most U.S. highways.

I am also particular about the shape of the dress.  I require a loose, rather than fitted, silhouette.  I believe in fashion jargon, that style is called “unconstructed.”  And that’s the perfect look for me.  My frame is no longer suitable as a construction site.

Flounces, ruffles, and bows are definitely no-nos.  I am drawn to a more tailored, grown-up look.  I have in the past tried on garments with frilly, full skirts.  While looking adorable on a certain type, what the mirror reflected back to me was reminiscent of a beautifully wrapped gift box of fine chocolates.  But Godiva was not the look I was seeking.  Obviously, she couldn’t find a suitable dress either!

I know it’s summer, and florals are all the rage.  But my preference is not to look like something ordered from 1-800-Flowers.  Therefore, I require a dress in a summery, but solid color, or a pattern that doesn’t look like it’s trying to be heard in a noisy restaurant.  I’m not fussy about the fabric.  As long as it’s soft and cool.  And not see-through.  Or clingy.  Or becomes wrinkled if you even look at it the wrong way.

Sadly, I have not yet found the perfect dress.  I’m not sure why.  I don’t think my requirements are unreasonable.  Surely, somewhere, there hangs the all-purpose, collarless, sleeved, below-the-knee, flowing (but not too much), no-frills, flowerless, wrinkle-free garment of my dreams.   I may have to widen my search area, but I shall continue my quest at least until Labor Day.

And if I’m not successful, there’s always next summer, when boot camp fashion just might be all the rage!

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