This expression of American origin is mostly used in informal contexts. It has been part of the English language for nearly three hundred years. When you say that something is ‘small potatoes’, what you are suggesting is that it is not important or that it is inexpensive. The expression can be used with people as well. When you refer to someone in an organisation as being small potatoes, what you are suggesting is that he is an insignificant individual — he is not very high up in the corporate ladder. In British English, such an individual is referred to as ‘small beer’.
The allowance that my father gives me is small potatoes compared to what you get.
In a place like Monte Carlo where all the rich people live, someone with a few million dollars would be considered small potatoes.
Naveen will not be able to intervene. He’s small beer in the company.
In terms of grammar, there is nothing wrong with the sentence. But for a native speaker of English, when the word ‘dress’ is used as a noun, it is used to refer to a piece of clothing that is normally worn by girls or ladies. Men generally do not wear a dress — unless of course you are referring to something that an individual wears on certain formal occasions — for example, a king wearing his ceremonial dress. In all other contexts, the word is mostly used with the female of the species. You can, however, compliment a man on his dress, if you find him wearing a skirt or a saree. When ‘dress’ is used as a verb, it can be used with both men and women. He’s/She’s always neatly dressed.
This relatively old expression is frequently used in informal contexts to refer to someone who is angry all the time. The individual may have an inferiority complex, and therefore takes offence at everything someone says — he may think that the person is making fun of him. He strongly believes that people have treated him very unfairly in the past, and is therefore constantly itching for a fight — making him a person to avoid, for he is very unpleasant to be with.
Rahul has had chip on his shoulder ever since the CEO turned down his proposal.
Ever since her parents separated, Nalini has had a chip on her shoulder.
The chip in the expression has nothing to do with a potato chip or a chipped bone placed on one’s shoulder. In this case, it refers to a small piece of wood. In the past, angry young boys used to place a piece of wood on their shoulder and walk around; it was a challenge to the other kids on the block to knock the chip off his shoulder. When somebody dared to knock the chip off, it always resulted in a fight.
Potatoes are to food what sensible shoes are to fashion.