The quest for the perfect travel dress is deceptive. The best frocks to buy for trips are the dresses that you can ALSO wear at home: to work by day, and out at night… being comfy and cute all the while. Outfits this versatile are the ultimate fashion investment.
Enter Leota: the dress company (started in 2011 by my friend Sarah) that is now one of the top 50 fastest growing woman-owned companies in the United States. Now, no one asked me to create this article — I just really, really love Leota dresses, and spontaneously decided, with the help of eight local Boston friends and a fancy camera, to show you why: Right here, right now.
In this article, you will see each of my buddies model two to three of 11 total dresses, thus demonstrating how the frocks fit a multiplicity of personal styles and shapes. I took these pictures in Boston’s famed Arnold Arboretum over the course of three weekends. I hope you enjoy the results, at the very least from an artistic point of view, but perhaps also with an eye towards understanding why more and more women are becoming Leota lovers!
Leota frequently has sales, so stay tuned via their newsletter and social media. This is useful because Leota dresses are slightly more expensive than chain store dresses due to the fact that they are ethically made, and made with quality.
For even deeper discounts, you can browse this affiliate link for Leota on Amazon.com where previous season dresses (including Maternity and Plus Sizes) can be had for a fraction of the original prices. Allrighty — with those logistics out of the way, let’s dive into the FASHION!
Though the patterns and styles change each season at Leota, the iconic style (upon which many sub-styles are riffed) is the Perfect Wrap. You can see this style modeled below by my friend Katherine, who is a mother of two young kids, as well as a legal services attorney specializing in children’s issues.
I wear the Perfect Wrap to work teaching (in the bracelet-sleeve and cap sleeve iterations) with a camisole below it, and can whip off the camisole to convert the dress to a night-on-the-town style. Most Leota styles are the super-stretchy “Essential Jersey” fabric which is that wrinkle-free, machine-washable (air-dry) magic perfect for travelers, teachers, moms, and people like myself who would far rather write 2,000 words than properly hang a dress.
Next up is the newer Ellie style, modeled below by my friend Pam: a brilliant middle school History teacher, track coach, and mother of two children who are named after the seasons. (Pam did this photo shoot while feeding and rocking her new baby!) The Ellie dress demonstrates a more fitted Leota style, which flatters thanks to its bodice drapes and skirt texture.
To demonstrate Leota’s #1 best-selling style, the Sweetheart, we have teacher-leader and food/parenting blogger, Kristina. Why is the Sweetheart dress so popular? I own an embarrassingly large number of them, myself, so I know from experience: the Sweetheart is supremely flattering (especially that bodice), comfortable (the flowing skirt and stretch fabric), and cute (to dress up or down in an instant).
I teach in these dresses constantly, AND wear them to evening events, AND wear them hiking. Hiking, you ask? Yes — if you slip shorts under them, they’re as comfortable as a T-shirt… but think how much more striking the photos at the top of a mountain are in a dress!
Modeling the new “flutter sleeve” edition of the Sweetheart dress, below, is Stacey: a Boston photographer who is currently doing a stunning project showcasing the beauty of Black women. I was lucky to be able to photograph Stacey, since she’s usually on the other end of the lens.
As you can see from these two Sweetheart photos, there’s something about that swirling skirt that just makes a gal want to dance…
The author of my most popular ever TeachingTraveling.com article (almost 90,000 reads and counting!) is next: Kim, a teacher, cycling instructor, and avid traveler. Here, she’s modeling the new Lena dress: a cowl-neck, draped frock that adapts to every shape. Since I usually wear Leotas with leggings or shorts underneath, Kim has exactly the right idea with her pose: this is a dress for climbing trees!
Below is a front view of the same Lena dress, this time on Kristina. Note that blues and darks are excellent for travel because they exude calm and hide stains. The belt on the Lena is also a classic Leota touch, as the Perfect Wrap, Ilana, and other key styles feature it prominently, and it helps the dress fit a wide range of body types — including an expanding belly from buffet lunches, or even pregnancy!
Leotas are perfect for maternity and nursing dresses because they have the needed features (belly expansion room and pull-down-able chest areas) but can bounce back to regular wear afterwards.
Beautifully showing the joys of Leota maxi dresses is the next model, Claudia: a master of sales, a mother, dancer, and board member of the Boston Women’s Fund. Claudia is posing here with the Alexandra dress: Sleeveless Sweetheart on top, maxi dress down to the floor. What a stunner!
Next up: the Loretta Peplum is modeled below by Savannah, a creative artist who is co-founder of an online retailer, CloudKarma, at Rayjaunp.com. Now, clearly, a zesty style like a peplum dress isn’t something you can wear every day, because it stands out so boldly, but it is a perfect match for a presentation or conference, especially since it rolls compactly into a suitcase and emerges, wrinkle-free. The style always reminds me of a flower!
Our final fabulous model, showing the Charlotte dress, is Suzie: a Boston teacher who recently returned from travels in Cape Verde.
I have the Charlotte dress in short sleeves, too, and wear it on heavy rotation to teach, travel, or go out on the town, because the twist in front makes me feel fancy, flattered, but comfy. This dress ends above the knee, so don’t confuse it with the long maxi dress modeled earlier which has the same color. The way Leota seasons work is that the same set of patterns are used across several styles.
Let’s use the Charlotte dress as a case study in the versatility of Leotas. Here is the same dress, now modeled by Pam. (I told her that this picture needs a speech bubble proclaiming, “TA DA!”)
Finally, check out the very same Charlotte on Kim. Note how the frock stretches to work for each woman it embraces. Note, also, how wearing a dress in the pink or red family produces great photos, since those colors usually contrast with natural or city background colors. (Find more tips for taking good dress photos here.)
Speaking of colors brings up an awkward element of this article: You could fall in love with a dress here that may no longer exist. Leota works in a limited-edition batch model, which is part of the fun. Though core styles (and the riffs on them) remain, the prints — all hand-painted in New York — are only available for one season. Catch ’em while you can!
Let’s try this dress versatility experiment again, showing the same frock on two different women. The Scarlett dress, modeled below on Stacey, pairs a Perfect Wrap top with a more fitted pencil skirt and fun side ruffle on the left.
Now, here is the same Scarlett dress on Katherine. (Shout-out to Katherine for a pose that proves we mothers of two young kids are still fun!) Despite being all different sizes, each woman who put on the Scarlett dress marveled, “It fits me so well! It’s fancy, but it’s comfy as pajamas.”
Let us close with the dress for when you have a special occasion, but still want to be able to stretch, breathe, and even leap. The Evelyn is “Va-va-voom!” incarnate. The Sweetheart neck is paired with ruching all down the upper calf-length skirt for a long and lean silhouette. I wore the Evelyn to a conference in Alabama, and loved every moment in it!
So there you have it: A dress company committed to comfort, art-infused beauty, versatility, ethical production, and fun. It’s been a joy to encounter the growing ranks of Leota-lovers around the world. Now, I’m curious: Do these dresses seem like a match for you? Do share!
See more fashion and art inspiration here.
Leota provided some of the dresses for this article, but I created this love song purely from my own passion.
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 3.7 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!