Out of all the shops I go to, ranging from Toronto to my local mall, I can only ever rely on one store when I need a dress. Pendulum swings, in my opinion, always result in losing one bad thing in exchange for another. When women were granted the freedom of pants they never imagined it would mean giving up dresses, and although technically speaking that's not what we've done, it comes close. Women are always trying to equal themselves to men, but instead of adding to our merits while retaining our old ones we throw them out the window. We needn't become men to be equal to them. Dresses, in street fashion, have gotten a bad rap as being exclusively for "girly-girls" and the most formal occasions. We have subjected ourselves to look like and mimic men instead of confidently embracing our femininity. I find dresses infinitely more comfortable than pants and much easier to dress an outfit around.
This is no longer what dresses look like. Tight waisted, puffy petticoat, polka dot wonders are no longer the style, but for some reason this is still a some what stereotypical attitude towards dresses that is maintained. Part of the reason for this, I think, is that this is truly the last decade of ladies-who-lunch kind of dressing. As soon as the 60's got into it's full swing, women started to wear pants in public en mass for the first time. Prior to this it was seen unbecoming to be seen outside one's own home in slacks. In the 1960's TV series "Bewitched" I think this is the most evident. The series starts in the early 60's, and there is one particular scene that really hits is home for me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FneJANpeutY (watch at 3:40 for about 1 minute) It shows how it is unacceptable to go into town in slacks.
Now fast forward a few years and one will see just how quickly things have changed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJk00wD1xmE&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PL329715276AF02B50 (watch from 15:50 for a couple of minutes) The hippie bell bottoms are in and everyone is wearing them (even the relatively conservative Samantha.)
However dresses no longer look like princess gowns. Personally I find dresses more comfortable and practical than pants or shorts and they're more flattering as well.
This is a dress from the United Colors of Benetton. It is definitely referencing a 60's esthetic, and I think it looks great. Too often people opt for sweats and a t-shirt because they find putting together an outfit too hard. To me it makes so much sense to choose a dress because it involves one piece of clothing and a pair of shoes, nothing could be easier!
This is a link to the store where I get all my dresses.