Story by Desiree Prieto
Located on 315 Congress Avenue, Dress Shop is no longer one of Austin’s best kept secrets. Tourists from local hotels were stopping by during my visit to check out the infamous store owned by the, “Dress Evangelist,” Leslie Gandy. “We carry dresses that are both ‘of the moment’ but will last for a long time,” explains Gandy, “we do have our fair share of college and even high school customers-but the dresses appeal to the many professional women who work near us, as well as tourists of all ages looking for a fun purchase on their visit to Austin.”
Opened in August 2009, Dress Shop remains the first women’s retailer on Congress Avenue in over a decade. And what better way to announce that a woman can join the ranks of men, than by opening a women’s boutique in a historically male-dominated business area? As if Gandy’s message isn’t clear enough, her dresses are literally the perfect fit, as they’re designed for a real woman and not for the double-zero-diva modernistas have become obsessed with hating. According to Gandy, “we really advocate looking good. The hour glass dress is flattering and fits really well. Our dresses are made of many different [and forgiving] materials, like knit and stretch. We also carry an array of styles and designers, such as Yoana Baraschi, Bon Bon by Micah, Suzie Chin, and Maggie London.”
Dress Shop’s price point ranges from affordable to expensive, as there’s a look for every occasion: casual, cocktail, sundress, work dress, etc. In addition to carrying dresses, they sell all the pretty little things and accessories that accompany them. Necessities for, “no more wardrobe malfunctions,” as Gandy likes to call it, includes original Hollywood fashion tape, disposable nipple covers, silicone nipple covers, deodorant removing sponges, plunge back bras, and more. However they carry more fun necessities and accessories such as, sequin encrusted handbags and jewelry galore, like sparkly bracelets, peacock feather necklaces, gold and silver earrings.
The clutch bags are my must-haves, as I found myself jealous and fantasizing about them within moments of leaving the shop. I’m also still pining away for the timeless polka dot sensations and the Audrey Hepburn-inspired dresses. Today I’m considering re-modeling my closet area—or even the rest of my house—to look like the interior of Dress Shop itself. The shop’s vintage aesthetic with colorful splashes of black and white, baby pink, and exposed brick, features an original Durham Tobacco ad from 1896.
About the owner: A Texas A&M alum, Gandy left her home state to live in New York City, where she honed her sense of fashion. She worked for Us Weekly Magazine, focusing on celebrities and style, and became the marketing manager for Macy’s. She met her Longhorn husband in the big apple, who convinced her to move back to the lone star state and share her knowledge and passion for fashion with the rest of us. Her mother owned a similar shop in the 80s in Texas City. For more on Dress Shop, visit their site, facebook account, or stop by IRL.