June 6, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 50°F


Style Watch: Two for one

Walk through the Circle Apartments on a Friday night surrounded by women strapped in heels and blue-jean-wearing men, and it’s almost like a mini-Manhattan (only with more Solo cups). Even without the city lights and high fashion, there is still a style to spot on campus.

Brianna Murray poses in a sophisticated purple and brown two-fer dress paired with strappy sandals. photo illustration by Allison Usavage and Chris Carlon

Women all over campus are sporting a trend that has been popular for months but just might be reaching its fashion limits. The “two-fer” dress is a creative blend of a skirt and a top that looks like two pieces but is only one. Most two-fers, also known as two-for-one or two-tone dresses, combine office and party wear in a no-hassle look. Designers from Diane von Furstenberg to Isaac Mizrahi have put these dresses in their collections, making them a hot item — but for how long?

Trever Oyer, fashion manager at American Apparel in San Diego, said though the store cannot prove it was the first to design a two-fer dress, its original is continually popular season after season.

“The first one was actually the light aqua top with the teal bottom,” he said. “That was the first one we made, before we opened retail stores in 2004-05.”

Oyer said the two-fer dress may be five years old, but customers are still buying them.

“It’s definitely a top-500 item in all stores,” he said. “And it’s definitely worth wearing.”

Some students at the college agree that these two-for-one dresses are perfect for the transition between seasons experienced in the beginning of the year.

Junior Shayna Saunders, the assistant stage manager for the spring 2009 on-campus fashion show, said she loves two-fer dresses, especially in the office. She said while interning at Barneys New York this summer, she discovered easy ways to look professional.

“I learned what it takes to impress,” she said. “A classy, simple two-fer dress with the right shoes is both sexy and stylish.”

However, some students are already over the trend.

Junior Mia Jackson, whose style is heavily influenced by her Los Angeles upbringing, said falling in line with some fashion trends, like the two-fer dress, is not a good idea.

“They’re cute,” she said. “But overdone. I’m pretty eclectic with what I wear so I usually hold out on trendy stuff.”

While interning at Banana Republic over the summer, Jackson realized the two-fer dress craze might have stemmed from its versatility.

“They’re popular because they’re an easy go-to,” she said. “You don’t have to plan an entire outfit out.”

Because these dresses come in plenty of different cuts and colors, it’s easy for a woman to find a style that works. For Jackson, the form-fitting, light blue denim dresses with bustier tops look the best. But two-fer dresses also come in hip-hugging materials as well as fuller skirts.

Some of the most spotted two-fers are the vibrant floral patterns that are sprinkled over the hanging racks in downtown stores, as well as the staple white-and-black ensembles.

It’s obvious these dresses have taken over campus when strolling the weekend party scene.

Even during the day, two-fer dresses come out of the closets. For some fashionistas, following this trend is all about simplicity — and being among many is no fashion faux pas.

Saunders said she still continues to buy two-fer dresses because of their ease.

“I recently just bought one at Target for $19.99,” she said. “Just because it’s two styles in one does not mean you should pay double the price. It works really well for going out or for a day at work because it’s a ready-made outfit. You don’t need to fuss with matching colors or styles. Just slip it on and go.”

Though a vast majority of women strut in these two-for-one specialties on the weekends, there are a number of ways to spice up the look for day wear.

With these types of outfits, accessories are the artwork and the dresses are the canvases, Saunders said.

“The simpler the dress the better,” she said. “It is all about how you accessorize. If there is too much material or the pattern is too overwhelming, you’ll have to be careful. You want to wear the dress, you don’t want the dress to wear you.”

Junior Amanda Tousaw, who believes she epitomizes girly fashion with her love for cheetah prints and the color pink, said depending on the occasion, a two-fer dress can work at almost any event.

“The settings they are a best fit for are parties,” she said. “Some people use them for a more formal type of event, but they are nowhere near any type of dress that people should wear to a wedding or a fancy dinner.”

So has the college found its new favorite trend that it can’t get enough of? Maybe we all need a trip to the Big Apple to find a new style for the season.