The July Dress, part of The Monthly Dress Series by Leanne BarlowRED LIPSTICK IN ‘LIGHT MY FIRE’  ||  LIP LINER IN ‘HOT RED’  ||  SIMILAR RED HEELS  ||  NECKLACE  ||  EARRINGS




Since July is the most patriotic month of the year, The July Dress had to incorporate red, white, blue–and stripes! The July Dress is a celebration of American Independence with thick navy and white horizontal stripes, a bold red lip, red heels, sparklers, fireworks, and an Colonial style home for the backdrop. It’s the very first dress from The Monthly Dress Series to incorporate a printed pattern!

July is one of my favorite months of the year! I love getting to celebrate our nation. I love feeling patriotic, and I wanted The July Dress to be a bold expression of America! The horizontal stripes on the dress are a nod to the stripes on our nations flag. Like our flag, I wanted the dress to be bold and clean.


The July Dress, part of The Monthly Dress Series by Leanne Barlow The July Dress by Leanne Barlow

July is also my birthday month! So I decided to make this month’s dress EXTRA “me.” I have loved navy & white stripes for forever and ever. A navy and white skirt was one of the very first sewing tutorials I created on my blog eight years ago. Eight years you guys . . . holy cow!  Incorporating one of my favorite classic patterns in this dress really pulled out my own individual style.


The July Dress, part of The Monthly Dress Series by Leanne Barlow The July Dress by Leanne Barlow The July Dress, part of The Monthly Dress Series by Leanne Barlow


It might be hard to believe, but it was actually a bit of a challenge to find this navy/white striped fabric! I’ve always been drawn to this pattern and color combo, but it usually comes in a knit fabric with much thinner stripes. I’ve known July would be navy and white stripes for the past 6 months, so I always kept my eye out when we went fabric shopping.

I realized that this scale of stripes is more common in home decor fabric rather than apparel fabric. So when I broadened my search to home decor stores, I found this fabric almost immediately! The fabric I used for this dress is actually an indoor/outdoor upholstery fabric! It is thick and heavy, which creates a beautiful draping effect with the amount of fabric involved. I purchased 10 yards of fabric for this dress. And just like The June Dress surprised myself by using every last yard!

The stiff fabric was perfect for creating the thick dramatic pleats in the skirt. It holds, folds, and presses beautifully, so while it was an unconventional fabric choice for a full length gown, it was actually one of the easiest fabrics to manipulate and sew. But man..this dress is heavy!


The July Dress, part of The Monthly Dress Series by Leanne Barlow The July Dress by Leanne Barlow The July Dress, part of The Monthly Dress Series by Leanne Barlow The July Dress, part of The Monthly Dress Series by Leanne Barlow The July Dress by Leanne Barlow


I saw a similar Oscar De La Renta dress in a magazine almost NINE years ago. I remember tearing out the image from the magazine and hanging it on my inspiration board for months and months (I included a picture of this striped dress on my inspiration board below). It was a beautiful navy and white striped gown, I couldn’t get the dress out of my head. And I always dreamed of having an excuse to create a similar dress one day.

Honestly, I really liked the look of all of the stripes going across horizontally, so I made the neckline a very defined square. Also, I love how the 3/4 length sleeves balances out the large pleated skirt.

Furthermore, I designed three very large bold pleats in the front and in the back, and I gave the skirt pockets! Pockets in a skirt or dress are some of the best selling points for me. Since the fabric is a bit more casual, the pockets really fit with the vibe. Combining an outdoor fabric and pockets with the elegant ball gown design create an interesting juxtaposition. I think the dress has a beautiful harmonious balance, and I couldn’t be happier with it.


The July Dress by Leanne Barlow | Elle Apparel Blog The July Dress by Leanne Barlow | Elle Apparel Blog The July Dress, part of The Monthly Dress Series by Leanne Barlow


Believe it or not, the giant bow in the back was actually a last minute addition. I bought what I thought was plenty of extra fabric “just in case”. Once I cut and pinned the dress on my mannequin, I felt like it was missing a “wow” factor. If you have been following along with me for a while you might remember my Take A Bow skirt I designed, manufactured, and sold a few years ago. It is one of my favorite skirt designs ever, and I decided to add a giant bow in a nod to my first skirt I ever manufactured. It was the perfect finishing touch on The July Dress.

I designed the bow to look like bunting in the back. There are a few different ways I could have created the bow, but a patriotic bunting bow matched the July vibe. That said, I couldn’t stop there. I added giant ribbons to the bow that cascade down longer than the skirt of the dress and it was just the dramatic effect the bow needed.


The July Dress, part of The Monthly Dress Series by Leanne Barlow The July Dress by Leanne Barlow | Elle Apparel Blog The July Dress, part of The Monthly Dress Series by Leanne Barlow The July Dress, part of The Monthly Dress Series by Leanne Barlow The July Dress by Leanne Barlow | Elle Apparel Blog


Does the location for this shoot look familiar to any of you long-time Elle Apparel followers out there? I shot The July Dress at the same breathtaking home where I shot my lookbook for my Take A Bow skirt 5 years ago! This is the home of one of my dear friends in my hometown of Camarillo, and it is one of my favorite homes of all time.

When I was scouting out locations for this shoot, I really wanted a location that felt All-American. This clean, white Colonial style mansion is set on a beautiful property that overlooks the city of Camarillo. The tall white Doric columns surrounding the home remind me of the Greek columns on The Jefferson Memorial, The White House, and so many other iconic American buildings.


The July Dress, part of The Monthly Dress Series by Leanne Barlow

The July Dress by Leanne Barlow | Elle Apparel Blog Lilies


I revealed The July Dress on the 3rd for a very special reason. Revealing this dress on July 4th might have seemed like a no- brainer, but July 3rd holds a very special significance to me. 12 years ago, on July 3, 2006, my dad passed away from prostate cancer at the age of 49. I was 20 years old and I remember that day like it was yesterday. Also, I remember my very last conversation I had with my dad, him telling me how much he loved me and how much he would miss me. Sadly, I remember the pain he was in, gathering around him with my mom and brothers and holding his hand as he passed.

That next day was July 4th. It felt very strange. How in the world do we celebrate and enjoy this holiday? Do we watch fireworks? If not this year, what about next year? I felt like Independence Day would forever be a sad holiday . . . one that I would want to skip over or forget. But, as the years have, passed I’ve learned to look at this holiday as a day to celebrate this nation’s freedom as well as my dad’s freedom. Freedom from pain, freedom from cancer. He didn’t get to see me discover my love of designing clothing while he was here, but I like to think he would have been so excited about this series.

If he were here…

I imagine him texting me the day before each dress reveal asking to see what the dress looks like, or calling me to find out what I have in store for each new month’s dress. He was always aware of what I was doing in life–tests, work, dating–and he always went out of his way to encourage me. I know he can see me from the other side, but I miss having him here with me.

My dad had a beautiful singing voice and he sang a beautiful song titled “Consider the Lilies” every year when I was a child. We were lucky enough to get a professional recording of him singing it before he passed. Lilies became our way to remember him. We had a beautiful display of lilies on his casket at his funeral and engraved on his headstone. I chose to carry a bouquet of lilies for this shoot in his honor, and I am dedicating The July Dress to my dad.


The July Dress, part of The Monthly Dress Series by Leanne Barlow

Photography: Jordan Zobrist


I loved reading all of your guesses for The July Dress and I hope you loved this reveal! This dress holds such a special place in my heart!

Make sure to check back next week for the Behind The Dress: July episode! You won’t want to miss seeing the movement of this dress and what it looked like while I was constructing it. The reaction my boys had to seeing this dress for the first time was pretty priceless too!


Here is the time lapse video for how I created The July Dress…





The Inspiration Board for The July Dress

The June Dress sketch done by Jill Paz Illustration





















Follow along with me on instagram and in my newsletter for updates on The Monthly Dress Tour! Over the next few months we will be prepping to bring these dresses to you so you can experience The Monthly Dress Series in real life! We will be taking these dressed on tour to Pasadena and Utah county later this year!



The July Dress, part of The Monthly Dress Series by Leanne Barlow

Want to learn how to sew? Let me teach you with my online video sewing coursesI offer a beginner course and an intermediate course. I walk you through every step of how to create and sew your own clothing. In addition, the videos never expire, so you can watch and re-watch them at your own pace. Also, they make for a great gift!


The Modern Girls guide to sewing

Join the Conversation


  1. Wow wow wow. Leanne you did it again!! So touching to give a glimpse and inspiration to your dad. That makes this dress so super special and touches my heart because of a similar experience with my papa.. I think this might be my new favorite! You inspire me!

  2. My favorite dress yet! And I remember that Oscar de la Renta dresss as well…it has always been a favorite of mine…so timeless. Another job well done!

  3. Literally brought tears to my eyes. I love when you share about you and your Dad. What a sweet relationship you must have had. And the dress…. amazing!!!

  4. It’s beautiful! I absolutely love the how detail on the back. This looks like it could be at the Met Ball. Wow! Also, thank you for celebrating our great USA ??

  5. INCREDIBLE! I just swoon over a navy stripe! So beautiful! You are so talented!! Love it!

  6. I Love it so much! I knew it would be beautiful, because you do such beautiful work! But what a special tribute to your Dad, I can imagine that he is so proud. ❤️? Thinking if you on your special day.

  7. For the first time I am speechless. This patriotic Dress is beyond words. I love it ???????? You truly out did yourself with this one, beautiful birthday lady. Hugs!!!

  8. So amazing!! I love it! And I got teary eyed reading about the lilies and your dad! He would be SO proud of you, and what a sweet tribute to him! ❤️?

  9. Literal tears! Your Dad is so very close! And he is right there celebrating your successes with you! By far my favorite dress! For all that is stand for! Huge hugs to you!

  10. So pretty! I want a short version of this fldress to wear to every party this summer. It just has the perfect summer time feel.

  11. I sure wasn’t expecting to cry. Leanne, this is stunning and such a beautiful tribute to your dad. I am holding your family in my prayers today. Congratulations on another incredible monthly dress!

  12. I’m in LOVE!! The stripes are so classy and bold and fun. My 9-year old daughter guessed it would look like a flag or fireworks. How fun to tell her she was right! We are so in love with your series.

    1. That is so fun that she guessed it! I love hearing people’s guesses. Thank you!

  13. So incredible!!!! Love reading all the explanations behind your inspiration!!! Love your dad and love this tribute to him ?

  14. how in the world is this possible!? you just amaze me every single time… so you have no right to stop from what you’re doing, you just have no right! And it was so touching to read about your dad… all i know is that he is watching you from above and he is very proud of you! ?♥️

  15. Okay typing though the tears! All of this is amazing…the dress, the location, and your dad/lilies! What a great way to honor him today! I’m sure he is so proud and smiling down on you today! Beautiful!

  16. Goodness me Leanne, I cried reading today’s blog. What a lovely way to remember your dad.
    Beautiful dress as always

  17. I think July is my favorite dress! I love how you captured the essence of the month without it screaming red, white, and blue! Yet it totally screams July. And even the silhouette of the dress has a colonial feel to it. It is all so perfect. And your story of your dad was so sweet. You definitely knocked it out of the park with July!!!

  18. You hit it out of the park again!! I love the bunting effect of the bow, and I also love that the bow suggests a bustle. I know the bustle wasn’t in style in Colonial times, but I associate it that way in my mind for some reason! Stunning! You and your work are so incredibly inspiring! And a beautiful and loving tribute to your dad.

  19. Oh my goodness! I connected with this post in more ways than I thought possible! First of all, you are an amazing designer, and these dresses keep amazing me! Also, I wasn’t following you when you made the take a bow skirt, but it’s so cute and I would have bought one. And, thank you for being so open and honest about your dad and the difficulty with coping with that loss. My grandfather passed away in the beginning of May, and he was just such an amazing man of God and a Pastor and a role model for me, and he has a birthday this Friday, so I was just thinking about Him and pain and sadness of death, but also the joy that like you said he is free, and my grandfather died of pancreatic cancer. Thanks for sharing and being so open and honest! Love your blog and feeling like I know you based on the real life things that you share!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing Julia. I love that we can connect on some level and support each other through difficult times through creating these dresses. It makes this whole experience so meaningful! Sending you hugs!

  20. I love all your dresses of the month, but I especially love this one and the dedication to your father! He would be so proud of you and the way you are raising your boys ?

  21. Consider the Lillies is my dads favorite song so this post got me all teary eyed. This dress is so perfect and embodies so much. Thank you!

  22. Such a beautiful dress and a beautiful tribute to your dad!! My dad passed away a couple days after my birthday (also from cancer) 13 years ago, and it took me years to be able to celebrate my birthday without feeling guilty for it. I can totally relate to how you felt.
    I stumbled upon your Instagram and blog through a friend of a friend, and I’m so glad I did! What a beautiful story, and I look forward to reading more of your blog! Thank you ❤️

  23. oh my GOSH this is amazing! i’m off social media for a week, so i totally forgot about the reveal yesterday. i am blown away. i loved reading the story behind the dress as well. thank you for sharing all of this with us!

  24. It’s truly amazing to find someone you’ve never met before who inspires you so much. This dress, this series in itself, is incredible, and I tip my proverbial hat to you. I remember seeing the Oscar de la Renta gown on… Miley Cyrus? years ago, and wishing I had one in my wardrobe. This might be my favorite of your series. What a stunning design and beautiful tribute to your father. Years ago you taught me to be fearless in sewing my own maxi skirt. And today? Your genuine, hard-won talent makes me feel good enough to tackle any challenge – be it a t-shirt dress, a shower curtain, or a designer gown. Thank you, from a new mom in Delaware who genuinely looks up to you. Keep up the inspirational work!

    1. Thank you so much for this comment! Your words are so kind and uplifting. I love hearing when someone has made something from a tutorial or been inspired by a blog post, it makes what I do so much fun!

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