On the Hunt: Best Dress for a Fest

1208962997Tomorrow morning I will jump on a plane and head to Palm Springs, where I’ll meet Fashion Week Mom (FWM), my little sister, and four of my closest friends for a weekend of sunning, snacking, socializing, and shimmying at Coachella, which, in my humble opinion is the best outdoor music festival ever.

Yes, I will sip Diet Coke by the pool in the mornings before heading to the blue- skied grounds. Yes, I will rock out to Prince on Saturday. Yes, he will electrify against a backdrop of beautiful palm trees and wondrous hipsters. Yes, I’m excited to the point of bragging. But I’m also a little nervous.

Because, while my co-revelers live in locales without ungodly winters (specifically: Jackson, MS; Athens, GA; New Orleans; San Francisco; L.A.; and Sydney), I’ve been up here in New England, where I can count the times this year that it’s been warm enough for me to safely go bare legged without risking hypothermia. And no, I’m not exaggerating when I say that the forecasted weekend temps hover around 95 flippin’ degrees. And sunny.

I know what you’re thinking: Sunscreen, blah blah blah. Thanks for the concern, but that part’s taken care of. FWM has already dialed up from Mississippi to confirm that she’s packed up more than a summer’s worth of SPF. Instead, I’m faced with a hyper-intense version of another classic problem: I have nothing to wear. Prince might be able to get away with skipping clothes altogether, Bostonista can not.

My (working) list of requirements: Must be a dress. Must not require a bra (let’s say it together, friends: chafing is a bitch!). Must be light in color as not to attract the sun like a solar oven (Hello, Mrs. Sorey’s 9th grade physical science class!). That light color must not show sweat stains. Must be sleeveless (duh!). Must be cotton or some other breathable fabric. Must be inexpensive so I will not be heartbroken if it is sweated on, spilled on, splashed on, puked on, etc.

With these things in mind, and exactly 40 minutes to spare, I made the rounds through a few Back Bay chains, grabbing and buying any and all contenders. (Why chains, you ask? Forgiving return policies!)

For all of you with a hot, sweaty, sunny, totally awesome event in your near future, here’s a store by store cheat sheet to the top 3 chain-bought, returnable, festival-ready frocks in town. All for under $100.

1. Lux’s Double Plait Dress, $48, from Urban Outfitters is flowy without being frumpy, and the cool braided shoulder straps are flattering to both pasty white and tan shoulders. Choose the gray option for a cooler-than-school vibe. (Urban Outfitters runner-up: Luxe Braided Slub Racerback Dress, $48.)

2. OK, it’s not technically a dress. But for our purposes, Fleur Wood’s Spring Orchard Chemise, $78, from Anthropologie does the job—in a cute, country-quirky way. And as you know, lingerie in lieu of actual clothing is so right now. (Anthropologie runner-up: Hope-In-Love Chemise, $58.)

3. Funked up with gladiator sandals and statement shades, J.Crew’s strapless eyelet-trim dress, $78, will look as cool as it feels. Bonus: no annoying strap tan. (J.Crew runner-up: Summer-print Alexa Dress, $68.)