Victoria by Victoria Beckham
When Juicy Couture announced last year that it was bringing back the beloved velour and terry cloth tracksuits of the mid-noughties (and then again when Vetements linked up with the brand for a pricey collaboration), my first thought was, okay, cool—but what about the tube dress?! You see, my favourite piece of Juicy merch from back in the day (and the only one that I still have in my possession) was a strapless dress with a smocked top and a very abbreviated hemline—which, at the time, had droves of celebrity devotees.
Jessica Simpson owned it in at least five colours; Sarah Jessica Parker (as Carrie Bradshaw) styled it with an Hermès Birkin bag and heels; the Hilton sisters, naturally, were big fans. But what really sealed the deal for me was the time Ashley Olsen wore it out shopping in Malibu paired with a rumpled blazer, canvas Miu Miu bag, and orange Dr. Scholl's sandals. In school, I treated the Olsens' wardrobe as gospel, and even if the dress was virtually guaranteed to be too obscenely short to wear in public à la Ash, given that I'm seven or eight inches taller than her, I was dead-set on owning one.
Sure enough, the orange velour number I settled on ended up being more of a beach cover-up than an everyday dress, but that didn't mean I loved it any less. The smocking was comfortable and the dress actually stayed up—which is much more than I can say for most of the tube tops from the era—plus, the stretchy upper meant it could fit a range of sizes. While the rest of my modest collection of terry trousers and hoodies ended up in various donation piles over the years, I've kept the dress (now decidedly top length on me), and I break it out on occasion to lounge by the pool or just wear around the house.
This season, however, it may be time for an upgrade, because there's an abundance of smocked tops, dresses, and swimsuits on the market that look a tad more suited to 2017. More flattering than the shirred off-the-shoulder styles of recent history, which tend to billow out over the chest, these ones have form-fitting bodices that stretch to hug your shape, often along with forgiving relaxed waists.
Below, shop smocked styles from Zara, Caroline Constas, Tory Burch, and more, and embrace one of the better trends to come out of the '00s.
Smocking lends itself perfectly to swimwear, and our favourite right now is this feminine bikini. (Even better: It totally works as a crop top, too.)