Published: January 21, 2016 • Behind the scenes / Editorial

I am so honored to share this story with you all. When I designed the Elise Dress, I was trying to make the little black dress I’ve always wanted. Something that made me feel sexy and sophisticated, that held in all the things that need to be held in, but showed off the rest. I don’t like zippers, and I don’t usually wear fitted clothing. But on the rare occasion I do need to dress up and would prefer to wear something a little less free-flowing than my usual day-to-day wear, I can never find something that is physically comfortable and that I don’t feel immodest in.

How do you do form-fitting without looking cheap and feeling bound? Both cut and fabric were essential to the magic of this dress. Using a heavy stretch-denim allows the dress to fit snugly without bulky zippers or closures. Have you ever worn a dress that’s a bit fitted, and the zipper buckles in an awful, rippling proclamation of discomfort? I despise that phenomenon. This dress pulls on over the head for the ultimate clean, polished silhouette. The sturdy fabric makes you feel tucked and secure in all the right places; so even though the silhouette is body-hugging, you don’t feel exposed.

The cut of the armholes and neckline gives the dress a distinct “mid-century-refinement” feel. By going for a high neck and full-coverage armholes (as opposed to deeper cut armholes that show the universally unflattering skin around the underarm) the dress has a demure, polished, Hepburn look. The long hemline finishes it off, hitting just high enough to show off a beautiful bit of calf and ankle. Not high enough to hit that awkward part of the leg right below the knee, and not long enough to look dowdy.

After working through the patterning and fit-testing of the Elise, I had decided it was my favorite piece of the entire Fall/Winter season. I was thrilled to find out that other women felt good in the dress as well, and I really wanted to celebrate the versatility and functionality of this piece, so we decided to photograph the Elizabeth Suzann team in it.

Every woman who works here at ES inspires me daily, and they each have unique and incredible style. Some days we come in to work wearing wildly different ensembles, and other days we’ll all come in wearing our Clyde Pants and boots. I felt so strongly about showcasing this dress on a variety of women with different shapes and styling sensibilities, so shooting our team in this garment felt like such a no-brainer! They each made it their own. We took a day here at the studio and everyone got their hair and makeup done, styled the dress with their favorite shoes and accessories, talked through their favorite things about the Elise Dress, and then we all ate Thai food together to celebrate. Seeing the final photos and hearing from everyone what their favorite thing is about this dress was so special – everyone’s individual beauty and kindness radiates through so visibly. I hope you find as much inspiration in these ladies as I do!


Chelsea is our media and marketing director, and her outfits are always enhanced by her huge smile and infectious laughter. I love how she layered the dress over the Cecilia Pant for a super modern feeling – dresses over pants is always a good way to change up your favorite pieces.

“The Elise Dress is an incredibly valuable piece of clothing because it’s so versatile. It’s both Hepburns to me — it has the look of Audrey and the spirit of Katharine. I can wear it by itself with sneakers or over pants with a pair of my favorite heels. Its design treats my body really well, too. I feel graceful and sophisticated and no pressure to hide anything. It’s also my husband’s favorite piece of clothing I own."

- Chelsea O'Leary

Chelsea is 5'3" and 115lbs. She is wearing a Size 2.

Ashley is a skilled seamstress, and she has one of most fun senses of style in the studio. The way she styled the Elise might be my favorite – I love how the dress is a canvas for her eye-catching accessories and classic beauty.

“There are two reasons why I love the Elise Dress. I love making it, and I love wearing it. It has an ease about it. I feel like I can go anywhere in it. The Elise looks complicated but in fact she’s very straightforward.”

- Ashley Adkins

Ashley is 5'2" and 120lbs. She is wearing a Size 2.

Coco is another one of our talented sewers, and even though sewing is a job most people would prefer to wear sweatpants while doing, Colette frequently shows all of us up with heels and skirts and killer makeup. This outfit is no different – the fitted silhouette and flesh-toned sandals show off her incredible figure, and her sleek hair and makeup make the look feel polished and sexy.

“The Elise Dress is very transitional. I can wear it with my baby to his doctor’s appointment, or I can dress it up with heels for a night out with my man or my girls. I can wear it anywhere. It looks good on my body.”

- Colette Mike

Colette is 5'8" and 175lbs. She is wearing a Size 10.

Emily is the head of our cutting department and also works on our media and marketing team. She has to be on her feet and is working with fabric all day, but she always looks put together – in large part due to her mostly black wardrobe. I’ve started stealing her tricks; when I’m feeling unsure of what to wear I’ll pull my favorite black pieces out and I instantly look like I’ve put thought into my outfit. I looove that she paired the Elise with these low ankle boots, adding boots is one of my favorite tricks for cutting the femininity of a dress or skirt.

"The Elise Dress is a lifetime staple in my wardrobe. I feel effortlessly beautiful every time I put it on, and the slight stretch in the fabric smooths my shape in all the right places. Whether I’m wearing stiletto heels or some cute sneaks, I always have the Beyonce walk going when I wear the Elise. It is the ultimate confidence booster, and I truly believe it looks elegant and sexy, yet comfortable on ANY woman.”

- Emily Thompson

Emily is 5'4" and 142lbs. She is wearing a Size 4.

Faith is one of our most patient and detail oriented seamstresses. She lives on a beautiful farm south of Nashville, and she always finds a way to marry practicality with unique style. She looks stunning in this dress, and I loved seeing her take on this dress with classic accessories and square toe heels.

“I feel the most beautiful in elegant simplicity. The Elise Dress certainly accomplishes that feeling.”

- Faith Kirk

Faith is 5'4" and 180lbs. She is wearing a Size 14.

Lauren has been a seamstress for me since the very beginning. Her sense of style matches her personality – totally fresh and 100% true to herself. I love that the Elise dress still looks incredible on her even though she’s the most pint-sized member of our team – the length doesn’t overwhelm her at all. Her Chuck Taylor’s make it perfection, though, hands down.

“I like the Elise Dress because it literally looks good on every single person who wears it. Universally flattering!”

- Lauren Taylor

Lauren is 5'2" and 105lbs. She is wearing a Size 0.

Lydia is the head of customer experience. She has one of most fast-paced jobs here that requires a lot of multi-tasking, but she always looks sleek and pulled together with her wardrobe of clean neutrals and pop of dark lipstick. This styling is very “her” with a simple bun and elegant heels.

"I have a lot of black dresses, but I always choose this one -- it's my go-to LBD. I'm a sneakers gal who on occasion loves wearing her ankle strap stilettos, so the versatility is a big factor for me. And somehow (without trying to be sappy) I'm a little bit closer to who I want to be in this dress. It's hard not to feel like a million bucks when I wear it.”

- Lydia Kirk

Lydia is 5'8" and 140lbs. She is wearing a Size 2.



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