I'm writing this from the lobby of my Montmartre hotel right now—and there's nothing quite like a trip to Paris to make one feel fashionably inadequate.

Wait. Scratch that.

There's nothing like a trip to anywhere else in the world to make one feel fashionably inadequate.

(Though shit sure is a hell of a lot more affordable in the United States. I just paid $4.50 for a Coke Light.)

At home, we make due with what is available to us. And what are available most of the time, unfortunately, are the malls and the chains and the repetitive and the overpriced, so it's up to the consumer to sort out the cream from the crap.

Although mall/suburban-mom staple Banana Republic is common, it's also one of the least offensive storefronts you'll probably encounter. Owned by GAP Inc., Banana Republic first opened as a safari-themed shop in 1978. After GAP got its paws on it in 1983, it's come to be not unlike the same charmingly blah GAP we all know today.

This girl's adorable beige-and-white tent dress was actually purchased from her local BR outlet. Paired with a lovely wool-blend cardigan shrug thrown over the shoulders, the dress is rendered perfect for the dinner party a friend was throwing. Who knew that Banana Republic was good for anything more than blending in at the office?

Within recent years, dresses have transformed into something that can actually be comfortable to wear. This airy trapeze sundress of sorts is the perfect example of the evolution: formless, shapeless, yet somehow it manages to hang well on the female frame and look fantastic, all while simultaneously achieving a carefree attitude.

It's too bad most guys couldn't disagree more. The dress has gone from skintight and revealing to . . . this.

Yet everyone from the highest fashion houses to Wet Seal has been and is currently carrying these items. Girls pair them with strappy leather sandals in the summer and opaque tights and ankle boots in the fall and winter. They also make for great layering material, something the Europeans seem to kick our mall-shopping asses at.

You can try avoiding all the muumuu jeers and catty comments from the boyfriend by making sure the dress is made from a good material. Cotton usually isn't the best for trapeze dresses, though, because of its ability to make you look like you're, umm, expecting. (Take it from me—I just unknowingly tried on a silk blouse from Zara's new maternity collection.) Bonus? Both flats and pumps work well with tent dresses, making them easy to transform from day to night wear.

But really? Maybe we girls like them so much not just because of their airy and extreme comfort/cute level, but because of their hiiighly forgiving silhouette—I'm gonna be needing some more of these things after all these Nutella crepes.

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