This Under-$50 Dress Is Extremely Versatile and Perfect for Travel

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  • While shopping online, I kept seeing this BB Dakota by Steve Madden dress ($49) on bestseller lists.
  • After trying it, I know why. It’s comfortable, a great value, and easy to wear day or night.
  • I’m considering buying the dress in more colors and plan to pack it for my summer travels.

Looking through my summer clothes a few weeks ago, I was feeling pretty uninspired by the choices, which have remained pretty much unchanged since pre-Covid, so I took to the internet in search of something fresh but affordable.

After browsing through my usual rotation of retailers, I kept noticing the same dress pop up on every bestseller section: The BB Dakota by Steve Madden Smokeshow dress, a relatively simple dress with ribbed material and ties on the side. 

It didn’t look like anything special, but the $49 price tag, high ratings, and wide range of color choices had my attention. I added the solid black version to my Amazon cart.

The BB Dakota by Steve Madden staged next to white sneakers and a brown purse

With a pair of sneakers and a crossbody bag, you have an easy and comfortable travel outfit.

Ashley Phillips/Insider


My expectations were honestly low, but once the Smokeshow dress arrived, I was surprised to see the material was a bit thicker instead of flimsy and cheap-feeling (full disclosure: some reviewers still felt like it was too thin). The dress is very formfitting but not so snug that a pair of colorful underwear or lines show through. You can also adjust the ties at the side so the dress is longer or more scrunched up, depending on the look you’re going for.

I typically wear a size XS and found this dress to be true to size. Though, a size small would have fit well too. It’s pretty stretchy, but I’d recommend sizing up if you’re in-between. The biggest downsides are that the size range is only available in XS-XXL, and the care instructions suggest hand washing. After feeling the material, I’m fairly confident it will be fine on a delicate cycle followed by being laid out to air dry.

Writer holding up the BB Dakota dress showing the texture and opacity of material

Some reviewers found the fabric too sheer in lighter colors, but the black knit looks opaque to me. It only appeared slightly sheer when I stretched the material in front of a window.

Ashley Phillips/Insider


The simplicity of the dress makes it a great summer option I’ll be wearing all season, but I’m especially excited to pack it for an upcoming trip to Europe. With 10 days, multiple stops, and limited luggage space, I need versatile clothes that can pull double (or even triple!) duty. All it takes is a change of shoes to completely change the look of this dress – add a pair of sandals or white sneakers and you’re all set for exploring. With wedges, you’re ready for dinner or a night out.

One thing to keep in mind is that some reviewers mentioned the lighter colors being too sheer, which is why I chose black, but I like the dress and the price so much I’m already planning to purchase another, just in a darker color like blue or orange instead of beige.

If you’re gearing up for summer travels or just looking to refresh your sundress selection, check out the BB Dakota Smokeshow dress and you’ll see why it’s popping up on so many bestseller lists.

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