Comfort is the absence of perceived pain or discomfort, according to the author of Thermal Comfort Properties of Textile Fabrics, Prof. Lubos Hes. The keyword here is ‘perceived’, which means comfort is a state of physical or psychological satisfaction.
Unlike previous generations, today’s woman desires clothing that provides comfort in all activities. She’s a busy, outgoing, and fun woman who doesn’t want to be restricted by her clothing, and how she dresses is a form of self-expression. So when it comes to dresses, a woman wants an item that feels good on her, looks elegant, and is easy to take care of. Those three aspects right there define comfort to her.
That, however, is a very narrow perspective of what makes a dress comfortable. If you want to dig deeper, here are the specifics.
Type of Fabric
When choosing a comfortable dress, the fabric plays at least 50% of that role. How the fabric feels on your skin is crucial, and you touch it to feel the softness, smoothness, elasticity, warmth, coolness, thickness, and so on.
For example, 100% cotton dresses are soft, breathable, cool, and absorb moisture. Linen, silk, and merino wool offer the same qualities, too, with some being lightweight and softer than others. Soft, cool, breathable, and moisture-wicking fabrics provide comfort no matter the weather.
Similarly, you can easily identify uncomfortable fabrics with a single touch. They have increased fabric hairiness that causes a ticklish feeling, they are rough or stiff, cling to your skin when wet due to a little sweat, and they make you feel hot and uncomfortable in warm weather. Polyester and nylon are good examples of such fabric, and you want to avoid them at all costs.
The style or design of your dress also plays a role in comfort. For instance, a bodycon dress restricting your tummy and breasts cannot be all that comfortable. Its design also makes it hard to walk properly because it’s so restricting. This applies to tight mini dresses and even a pencil dress that won’t let you take a big step forward.
Choosing a dress that is a little more freeing or loose-fitting is always better. Loose maxi dresses, for instance, are quite comfortable if you choose one that is not too wide.
The design of the sleeves, or lack thereof, also matters. If you have to pick a strappy or halter dress, make sure it feels comfortable and the straps are not digging on your shoulders all day long. The halter neck should also not be so tight that you can’t breathe or bend over to pick something.
Perhaps even more important than style is choosing a dress that fits you right. According to New York City image expert Alexandra Suzanne Greenawalt, women should stop thinking about clothing in terms of size and instead go with how it feels. The size can differ from store to store, but how comfortable the dress feels on your body will not change.
Speaking of fit, always go for dresses that fit your current body size. It’s normal to lose and gain weight, so you don’t have to fix yourself in something that doesn’t fit you anymore. Be open to getting rid of old clothes that don’t fit you and buying the right size. If you are in doubt, have someone measure you on the waist, length, hips, shoulders, and bust.
Alternatively, fit the dress before buying it and prioritize how it feels more than how it looks. Sometimes, tight, figure-hugging dresses look good, but they will bring you discomfort all day.
Everybody is attracted to certain colors and looks good with certain colors. With that in mind, your comfort level with a particular dress will also depend on its color and how you perceive that color in your head. Remember, we said comfort is a perception, so if you perceive yellow as a horrible color, you will not feel comfortable wearing it.
Always choose colors that you perceive as good and classy. However, getting a second opinion on what colors look good on you is also good. Getting a stylist to do a color profile for you is a great start. When in doubt, wear neutral colors like black, white, grey, and beige.
There’s something instinctively comforting about wearing a dress with pockets. They give you somewhere to put your hands when standing or walking and provide an alternative to carrying a handbag. If you don’t have too much to carry, dress pockets can handle a little cash or credit card, lipgloss, ID, and keys. Dresses with pockets, especially maxi dresses, are also quite stylish, besides keeping your hands warm.
When I think about comfort, certain aspects of my body come to mind. Why? Because dressing is all about accentuating your best parts and hiding your not-so-favorite parts. For many women, the most comfortable dress highlights their best features, whether legs, arms, neck, butt, and hips, and tries to hide their least favorite features.
For example, a great dress cinches or covers up your mid-section if that is a place you are not particularly proud of. For me, a great dress covers up my legs because I perceive them to be my least favorite.
On the other hand, I want a dress that brings attention to the bust and the gorgeous neckline God bestowed on me. I know women who always wear strappy dresses because they love their arms. Discover your body type, and what kind of dress presents it in the best light, and you will be very comfortable with that dress.
The last aspect we want to discuss about comfort is modesty. We live in a social, cultural, and religious world where the clothes you wear speak volumes about you as a person. Depending on your culture, beliefs, and social status, there are certain styles you will not feel comfortable with.
For instance, the dress you wear to a club at night will not cut it tomorrow when you have to visit your in-laws or go to church. That same dress you were 100% comfortable with last night will make you feel ashamed and uncomfortable on another occasion.
Here’s another example; a Muslim woman will not feel comfortable with a strappy maxi dress despite being long, modest, and the epitome of comfort to 90% of women worldwide. Her culture and religious beliefs will make her uncomfortable wearing something that shows some skin, even if it’s just hands.
Perhaps this is the best example of how comfort is a perception. What makes a dress comfortable to you is completely different to another person or at different times.
As you can see, a lot goes into making a dress comfortable. It’s unlikely you’ll find one dress that hits all those marks, but at least it should have the majority. One last tip: sit down with the dress before buying it. A sitting test will let you know if the dress is comfortable in every area, especially height, arms, and waist.