The Keys to My Heart #6: The ‘Pretty Dress’ Cover

Posted August 16, 2014 by Debby in Uncategorized

This is a periodic discussion feature here at Snuggly Oranges about the bookish things that steal my heart.

#6. The ‘Pretty Dress’ Cover

Ha HA, you thought this series of posts was dead, didn’t you? Well I just found my list of topic ideas so I can carry on as I wish now. 😛 (So mature.) Anywayyyy – today, I’m talking about the “pretty dress” cover. I KNOW, WHAT A CLICHÉ, amirite? I think everyone in the YA readersphere has complained about this at some point. The thing is, I am one of the most superficial and shallow book collectors out there, so I’m not going to lie – I freaking LOVE the pretty dress cover. Now, yeah, there are bad examples too, but eight times out of ten, I just think, “WAHA, IT’S SO PRETTY I WANT IT – ON THE BOOK AND IN MY CLOSET PLZKTHNXBAI.” The book goes on my Goodreads “covergasm” shelf, and soon enough, given good reviews and an interesting premise, it’s on my shelf.

Some of my favorite pretty dresses:

(Click to enlarge!)

Sacrifice Illuminate Dance of Shadows Everneath_cover The-Winners-Curse Venom Entwined A Wicked Thing Envy the jewel A Mad, Wicked Folly Emerald Green These Broken Stars The_Selection_Cover Across a Star-Swept Sea the-girl-with-the-windup-heart Unearthly Timespell A Darkness Strange and Lovely Hemlock

Now, I haven’t read all of these – nor will I – but I have a deep appreciation for the eye candy nonetheless. The pretty dresses get me all excited – and sometimes they make me prefer one edition of a book over another “more original” one. I’m not gonna lie, I ordered the Aussie edition of Venom just so that I could have that dress cover asdfjkl; *grabby hands*

What does this say about me?

I realize I’m falling for the marketing trick: attract young women with pretty shinies. And to some extent, that should make me mad. I mean, we’re fighting for gender equality and should want gender-neutral covers (somewhat depending on the story, but in general – yes). By having a girl in a pretty dress on the cover, the book is immediately classified as a “girly” book. Guys won’t even give it a shot, regardless of whether the story contains much badassery. And even female non-YA readers tend to kind of turn their noses up at it – because it looks so “young”, it’s just YA, it must be about frivolous girls and romancey things. God, just typing this makes me kind of want to barf, but it has happened that I’ve walked around with a girly pretty dress cover and felt self-conscious about it. Co-workers have seen it on my desk and laughed derisively. I just want to yell, “It’s a really good story though!!! Really!”


The thing is, I really appreciate fashion. I even have a fashion board on my Pinterest account – though I don’t use it often, but I like to browse through all the clothing and I just WANT ALL THE THINGS. Especially all the things with lace and ribbons. I’m not particularly a girly girl, but when it comes to clothes… I am. I shouldn’t have to feel bad about liking the pretty dress covers – especially because that’s usually far from the ONLY reason I bought the book. It’s just something that catches my attention. I feel like because it’s become such a cover cliché, it’s just got a bad rep. In the end, though, I doubt anyone can really make me feel bad for loving them – they’re just too pretty, so I’m just gonna keep on keepin’ on.

Let’s Talk!

What about you? Do you like and appreciate the pretty dress cover? Do they go on your insta-buy/want list? Or do you just wish that cover designers would get more original? BUT FIRST: what are some of your FAVORITE pretty dress covers? (Let’s embrace the girly!)

Let me know in the comments!

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19 responses to “The Keys to My Heart #6: The ‘Pretty Dress’ Cover

  1. I totally get you. I am ensnared by these marketing ploys, every single time. It aches me too when the book doesn’t turn out to actually be good but then I get mesmerised every time I look at the cover. I love the cover of The Winner’s Curse, but am not keen at all on the storyline (but that doesn’t mean the temptation isn’t real whenever I walk pass it) and the cover of These Broken Stars just calls to me, begging me to buy it in hardcover, but once again, I’m not too keen on the storyline. I did fall in love with the cover of Queen of Someday, and that was a bet that payed off–the storyline was just as good!

    • If it helps, both The Winner’s Curse and These Broken Stars got 4 stars from me 🙂 But I do suppose you have to be into fantasy and sci-fi.

  2. I love covers with pretty dresses, too. And I know there are other bloggers out there that like them, too. You shouldn’t feel like a bad feminist for liking them. Feminism is about appreciating people’s choices. If you like dresses and ribbons that’s perfectly okay (so do I), but I also want women to people able to be construction workers, and to kick butt in all sports and to earn equal pay.

    And really, those boys that won’t read a book with a girl with a pretty dress on it – I feel like that is something society should work on with the guys! They are taught that liking “girly” things is bad, but girls can like “boy” things. That kind of stuff just makes me mad. People should like whatever they like!

    There, that’s all. Also, I love the cover for Entwined! I want that dress!

  3. YES TO THIS POST!!! Pretty dress covers are a guilty pleasure of mine for all the reasons you listed, but perhaps they don’t really need to be a guilty pleasure, no?

    I love love love the cover to Dance of Shadows (didn’t like the book though, sadly). I also adore the covers to the Selection trilogy. They appeal to my fashion-loving side very much 🙂

  4. I think some of these covers are pretty, but they don’t necessarily entice me to buy the book. Especially since I know that, often, there won’t even be a pretty dress in the story! (The only one of the books above that I’ve read is Unearthly, and while I didn’t think it was that great, the dress did sort of make sense — it looks like the main character’s prom dress.)

  5. OMG!! I’M NOT ALONE! I love pretty dress covers! People think they’re bland and annoying, but I just think they’re… pretty. They’re always some of my favourite covers.

    • RIGHT! I feel like there’s such a stigma against them. Like I’m not allowed to like them. WELL I SHALL BE SILENCED NO MORE. MOAR DRESSES. MOAR.

  6. ME TOO!! I know a lot of people say how absolutely fed-up and tired they are by pretty dress covers but omg, they get me every. single. time. I absolutely LOVE looking at them. The fact that “boys can’t read them” bugs the heck out of me though. I mean, who even decided that? Le sigh. I do understand the whys for not liking them, but I personally will always be sucked in by a gorgeous dress. I’m with you on Venom too. 😉

    OH. And I’m a totally random commentor, I know! Sorry. >_< But I saw your post linked to on someone's weekly round up post and I just had to stop by and see. 🙂

  7. I never ever tire of them! I know many people are done with dresses on covers etc, but I’m a sucker for a big pretty dress! The Winner’s Curse and The Jewel are my two favorites right now!

    • Right? It also makes me excited that both are series, so we can have SERIES of those stunning dresses, variations on a theme, HUZZAH! *twirls*

  8. They might be cliche and sometimes a bit overused, but I still can’t get enough of these dresses. Some of them are so pretty and I want to own them (even when I don’t have occasions to wear most of them, haha) I recently bought Entwined, so pretty <3 Everneath, The Jewel and The winner's curse are some of my favorites.

    Other pretty dress covers:
    Janet Lee Carey – Dragonswood.
    Ruth Frances Long – The treachery of beautiful things.
    Alethea Kontis – Enchanted.
    Kathleen Peacock – Hemlock.

    • YAY I’m not alone haahaha. I almost put The Treachery of Beautiful Things on here, but I’m conflicted about the state of photoshop of the rest of that cover lolol. It is pretty though 🙂

    • True, I think there was a surge in pretty dresses in 2012, but it’s kind of mellowed out a little since then? Might just be me. Whateverrr I just want all of them.

  9. I thought I was the only one left who actually thought these covers were pretty! I love pretty girls in pretty dresses despite how cliche they are. I have to admit though, I try to not read them in public. >< I know that I should do whatever I wanna do but they're just so looked down on by society. Like you said, no matter how badass or awesome it is, from the outside, it's just a girl in a frilly dress. :3 Society sucks!

    • RIGHT. I know it’s like OTHER PEOPLE’S problem if they think it looks girly and stupid, but still, I feel bad when I get that kind of judgment. This is why I’m happy I usually get hardcovers and then read with the dust jacket off. I guess that’s a good compromise =/