Banana Republic Leopard Maxi Shirtdress

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image of Alison wearing a leopard print maxi dress and aviator sunglasses

I began this discussion yesterday on Instagram, but here on the blog, I can write more.  It's also far easier for me to share my thoughts with both hands on the keyboard instead of attempting to be coherent with two thumbs.  I am 5'3″ tall, the average height of an American woman in 2019.  I am also a 14, which is pretty close to the average American woman clothing size of 16/18. Then why is it so hard for me to find clothing that fits my relatively average body?  


dress | sandals | earrings | bag | sunglasses | lipstick

banana republic leopard shirtdress 3

Dress: Banana Republic (14 petite) | Shoes: Bella Vita | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban | Bag: Very old from Hobo; sorta similar | Earrings: Domain Luxe Portrait Hoop Earring c/o REALM | Bracelet: Large Chloe Cuff c/o Jenny Bird | Lipstick: L'Oreal in Matte-Traction Red

image of Alison wearing a leopard print maxi dress and aviator sunglasses

I was happy when Banana Republic extended their sizing to 20, and unlike many brands that end their petites at 10 (I'm looking at you Boden, if you had larger petites I'd likely have my closet jam-packed with you), Banana Republic goes up t0 size 14.  And while this dress is a hair snug in the bust (there are two safety pins in there keeping the buttons closed when I wear my molded cup bra), it's not stretchy fabric and it's not the norm.  I find Banana's petites quite curve-friendly and have several dresses, blazers, and pants that work great off the rack or just with minor alterations for a perfect fit. I'd love them to continue to extend their size range; wouldn't it be great if they offered clothing for the average American woman?  Maybe that would help with their declining sales?

image of Alison wearing a leopard print maxi dress and aviator sunglasses

The earrings, if you follow my Instagram Stories, you know I've been wearing them a lot.  They are by REALM, a woman-owned and designed jewelry company based out of Philadelphia.  I love the portrait-style hoops; they stand out with my shorter curly hair and are so elegant and timeless without being boring or subtle.

image of Alison wearing a leopard print maxi dress

The bag is almost a decade old.  I went to a Hobo sample sale with family and friends and another person in my party bought this bag and changed her mind and gave it to me.  I think it was maybe $5? I know I got it at this sale though it's not in the blog post.  The handle tucks into the bag to turn it into a clutch.  It's a bit warmer of a print than the leopard dress, but I kind of liked how it didn't exactly go.  

banana republic leopard print maxi shirtdress 3

I love that you can throw it in the washer and dryer.  The buttons go all the way down so you can unbutton a few for both airflow and a sexy little leg peek. The belt isn't attached so you can also customize it by switching it out for a leather one (an obi-style would be chic).  The dress is breezy for non-horrible summer days but is a style and fabric that could work year-round.

banana dress image of Alison laughing at a restaurant table with a glass of water

Last week, I wore this dress to go to dinner with my friend Nicole. This week, I wore it to a meeting and to lunch.  It's comfortable, easy, one-step dressing yet it makes major impact.  Exactly what I love to have in my closet!

Shop the Look:

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. If you like this style of belted maxi shirtdress, I just bought a similar dress from Zara, but in kelly green with an irregular polka dot print (it’s called the Marilyn, I believe). It has the same issue with the slightly smaller bust but it fits perfectly everywhere else (hello cinched in waist but enough space for the bum & hips!) The best part? It even has POCKETS – be still, my beating heart!

  2. Alison, your hair… I love it! Is that natural curl coming out of hiding all these years?
    The dress… you look fabulous dahling, Fabulous!

      1. It’s been a while since I commented on the blog but I’ve still been reading! Just wanted to say that I’m also on the curly girl journey of embracing my natural hair & I have similar hair to yours, but the ‘wavy when short’ thing used to happen to me before I delved deeper into CGM (the curly girl method). I don’t know if you follow it but I’ve found that, by getting rid of silicones/ parabens/ sulphates etc & ‘scrunching out the crunch’ (after blow-drying or air-drying with just a cotton t-shirt), my hair still curls even when long. In fact, it’s currently past my shoulders but is still forming ringlets at the ends!

        Anyway sorry to hijack your post Jacquie & sorry if you know this all already Allie lol – just excited to share this with someone who’s also in the process of stepping out of the natural hair closet!

  3. Wow! This is an amazing maxi shirtdress. Thanks for sharing such a unique collection with cool jewelry. You look so beautiful and I would love to wear such dresses with cartilage earrings. I Agree, accessories gives you a different style statement. Well, if I’d be asked to add accessories to my style, I would prefer jewelry in the first place. I have a huge collection of jewelry from Freshtrends.

  4. If I hadn’t already bought a leopard print dress today (!) I’d be completely won over by your look here.

  5. You look beautiful! Love all the accessories and your choice of nail polish. Sometimes I get very frustrated with my size not being available or the times when a size sixteen fits my perfectly from Eileen Fisher and Lafayette 148 NYC and not at all in off brands. I truly wish all manufacturers would set the standard/specification for a size and then adhere to the standards. And, have found when fabrication moves to china then sizes from same company is all out of wack. Very frustrating so I wait until my favorite companies have a sale or pay full price if i really love an item.

  6. I like Banana Republic. Waaay too much fabric & leopard for me personally. I prefer leopard in small doses.

  7. That dress and the way you’ve styled it looks fantastic! And thanks for bringing up the issue with petites. As someone who is 5′ tall and wears a 14/16, I can’t for the life of me figure out why manufacturers who offer clothing up to an XXL in regular sizes stop at a Large (or even smaller) for petites. Just because you are short does not mean you must weigh 110 lbs or less! And thank you for mentioning Boden, as they are the biggest offenders only offering up to a 10P. Really Boden??? It’s one of the reasons I don’t shop there much anymore despite seeing some cute items. And I can’t figure out why Banana Republic, Gap and Athleta can’t offer an XL in petites since Old Navy seems to have many XXL petites that they offer. Anyhow, thanks for allowing me this rant! I’ll have to go check out Instagram now.

  8. You just keep knocking it out of the park with your outfits these days, Alison! That dress looks amazing on you! I so admire your ensemble-creating, and your advocacy for wider size ranges. And your ability to know what works for you, such as this leopard dress.

    I have a total love of leopard print–but it seems to be about seeing other people wear it. For years, I lusted after various leopard pieces. I had a leopard print scarf that I wore a lot until it fell apart. . . I created a knitted/felted clutch in leopard (which I think you could see here: https://www.ravelry.com/projects/LCBraun/pretty-kitty-clutch ) But I never feel like a whole garment would somehow be right on me–too showy? Especially for a teacher? Now that I am retired, the latter is not an issue, but um, I am retired, and it seems all I wear is super casual clothing. We’ll see if that changes–and my self-consciousness changes too!

  9. I JUST saw this dress over the weekend and said I wanted it but they only had one left in the store and they’re sold out in my size online. Clearly it’s a winner. And I feel like I saw you at that Hobo Sample Sale!

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