This Sundress Is Breaking the Internet—and Right-Wing Minds

Not since the days of “The Dress” has the internet been so worked up about an article of clothing.

Earlier this month, conservative women’s magazine Evie debuted its first ever clothing item—an innocent, floral-patterned sundress that looks much like the countless other summer dresses available at any mass retailer.

Right-wing Twitter melted down.

Some conservative women found the dress too revealing, others deemed it overpriced, others found it poorly made and ill-fitting. The dress’s defenders called its critics prudish and unattractive; its creator started hurling insults on Twitter. By press time, the first run of the dress was entirely sold out.

“Rightwing female Twitter is currently at war over a sundress and I actually love that so much for us,” tweeted BlazeTV host Lauren Chen. “I just like seeing women passionate about girly, feminine things, even if we’re fighting about them.”

The story of the dress starts on TikTok, where debate emerged this spring over what exactly constitutes a sundress. Some users argued the term refers to flowy maxi dresses (think: the viral Hill House nap dress), while others argued it refers to something more stretchy and form-fitting. Still others claimed sundresses have strappy sleeves, a fitted top, and a flouncy skirt—something akin to a Swiss milkmaid’s dress, only more revealing. (For the record, I happen to agree with the latter.)

Enter Evie. Founded in 2019, Evie is an online magazine that describes itself as the antithesis of traditional women’s media. Instead, Evie is a sort of field guide for wanna-be trad wives, urging women to ditch birth control, eat more red meat, and do something called “Instinct Maxxing.” Rolling Stone once described it as “like a Gen Z Cosmo for the alt-right,” and “a girl-bossified Breitbart;” recent headlines include “I’m Happier When I’m Skinny” and “Anthony Fauci Admits He Made Up Covid Rules That Didn’t Actually Stop Covid.”

Anyway, Evie—a self described “authority on all things fun and feminine”—decided to weigh in on the sundress debate. According to an article posted last Monday, the brand defines sundresses as those made from “lightweight and breathable” material, with a sleeveless design, low neckline, cinched waist, flowy skirt, and “vibrant colors.” The article includes a section on what makes the dress appealing to men, including that it “perfectly enhances your feminine figure” and “give[s] off major ‘girl-next-door’ vibes.”

“Made from light, airy materials, the sundress flatters the body in a flirty and feminine way, making it a beloved choice for women that is adored by men,” a post on the magazine’s Instagram account reads.

Evie then dropped its own version of the quintessential sundress: a flouncy yellow number with a pink rose print, ruffled neckline, and short, flowy skirt. The company’s co-founder, Brittany Martinez, tweeted out a photo of the dress and added cheekily: “Hard at work solving the population crisis with this groundbreaking fertility tech.”

The Evie Bra Sundress.

The Evie Bra Sundress.

ThePerfectSundress.com

The backlash was instant.

One Twitter user, who describes herself as an Orthodox Christian and “anti-feminis[t],” called the dress “fugly” and said it “looks like you’d get it at forever 21 for $20.”

“It’s also immodest especially since it’s coming from a more ‘conservative’ outlet,” she tweeted.

Others agreed.

“This dress doesn’t look high quality; it doesn’t feel timeless, like it can be worn year after year and still be classic,” wrote a user called Christiana, who describes herself as “God’s laughing daughter,” adding: “It looks like something I could find at T.J. Maxx.”

“Claiming to be a dress that can ‘fix fertility’ while being made of a fabric that is an endocrine disrupter is really embarrassing.”

— ‘Jackie’

Others were upset with the material—which, despite Evie’s frequent villainization of synthetic fabrics, is made of rayon, a semi-synthetic fiber.

“After seeing @Evie_Magazine’s “perfect sundress” was made of 100% rayon yesterday I was honestly furious,” tweeted a user named Jackie, whose bio—“esoteric health + wellness. intuition + energy. femininity”—looks like it could have been written by an AI chatbot trained exclusively on Evie articles.

“Claiming to be a dress that can ‘fix fertility’ while being made of a fabric that is an endocrine disrupter is really embarrassing,” Jackie wrote.

The backlash, of course, spurred a backlash of its own, with women suggesting that those who didn’t like it were either pearl-clutching scolds or—incredibly—having too little sex with their husbands.

“The issue with the evie dress is that so many woman aren’t ravished by their husbands enough so they bring their bottled up ‘frustrations’ online and complain about things like whether a modest sundress is going to provoke their fearful husband into finding a women beautiful,” wrote a user named Alec Carey, whose Twitter bio includes a link to makeamericabasedagain.com.

A model named Michelle Ivana posted pictures in the dress, writing that it was going to “single-handedly help me find my husband this summer.” And even Martinez got in on the action, replying to one user’s complaint about the price and quality by writing: “I’m guessing you don’t spend $129 on dresses regardless of the material.”

“People who typically never make anything themselves are the first to criticize or tear something down, because that’s the easiest thing to do.”

— Brittany Martinez

In an email to The Daily Beast, Martinez said she was “thrilled that the dress made such an unexpected splash.”

“It’s always challenging putting anything out into the world. A lot of time, energy, and care goes into it, and you never really know how it will be received,” she said. “People who typically never make anything themselves are the first to criticize or tear something down, because that’s the easiest thing to do.”

In response to complaints that the dress is too expensive, Martinez said the price reflects the fact that the dress is handmade in the U.S. and took “numerous prototypes” to get right. The material, she added, is “high quality Rayon,” which she argued is “far better for you and the planet than Polyester.” She added that Evie had been approached by investors to create a label, but “haven’t decided anything just yet.”

“We’re so grateful to everyone who ordered, and to the critics who helped increase its virality!” she wrote.

Of course, the real debate here is not about a single article of clothing, but about the myriad, often conflicting messages women receive about how to behave—even from within our political silos. Should we be corporate ladder-climbers or humble homemakers? Girlbosses or tradwives? If we choose the latter, is it OK to wear revealing clothing? To wear synthetic fibers? To use birth control? To eat seed oils?

Evie and its readers may think they have the answers to all of this, but another question remains: Do they really have women’s well-being in mind—or just selling a bunch of sundresses?

This post was originally published on Daily Beast

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