In a Blind Review, an item is select from an independent small brand. Using their measurement chart we purchase the size that best fits the reviewer’s measurements. All tags, maker’s identifying marks, and packaging is removed so brand preconceptions won’t affect the review. Once the blogger has sent in their review, we disclose the brand and retail price and ask for their final reaction.
STRIPE PRINT BELL SLEEVE V-NECK DRESS rp: £35.00
Loula (UK 16): I have a package in my hand and I’m excited to see what’s in it. I’ve been sent a secret item to review. It will have no tags and I won’t know where it’s from. As I peek in I can see stripes in black, grey and cream. Holding it up, I have a dress. Let’s put it on…
The elasticated high waist/under the bust seam sits a bit too high for me. I have an HH cup bust and it takes up too much room for the dress. The sleeves are weird. They just hang there and get in the way. It’s as if someone has tried to deflect attention away from the dress, and the body wearing it, to the elbows by adding a high/lo deep frill. I can’t help but think the vertical stripes are there for deflection reasons too. The rest of the fit is good, it skins well and it’s an ok length. The arms are not tight, and although the frill gets in the way, I can move easily. The construction is very good. All of the seams and hems are very neat. There are no loose threads and the bust darts are pressed sharply. The material feels very middle range. Not cheap, but definitely not expensive.
Overall, I’m not a fan. The arm frills are just, well, horrible. They feel mumsy and unnecessary. Without them, it’s a great neutral dress. Something that would make elegant, comfortable office wear. Or, it would for someone else with a much smaller bust than mine! Had I seen it in a shop, going by the fabric and stitch quality, I would expect to pay around £20-25 for it. Personally, I would have been attracted by the stripes, put off by the arm frills and would put it straight back on the rack!
Leah (UK 28): I actually did a squee when I opened the packet and saw the dress. I made similarly enthusiastic noises when I noticed the gorgeous floaty sleeves. I was pleased the sleeves balloon out from elbow length and not from the wrist because it means they don’t get dragged into my dinner or the washing up bowl! The dress is made of a lightweight crepe material which has gentle give to it, rather than actual stretch. It has an elasticated waist and is a good length on me – I’m 5ft 5 and I’d happily wear the dress without tights or leggings as it comes down to my knees. I’m a UK size 28 and I have quite large arms and shoulders for my size, so there is some tightness around these areas. This is something I’ve encountered before in garments made of nonstretch materials so I don’t think it should reflect too harshly on the maker. It doesn’t affect my comfort, but it does affect the aesthetics – its puckers up over the shoulders occasionally so I pull it down to make it sit properly. One thing I’ve learned about plus size fashion is it’s very hard – if not impossible – to find the ‘perfect’ garment. I haven’t found one yet, so I don’t want to be too critical. If you like this dress and, like me, you have large arms and shoulders for your frame sizing up might be a wise option.
It feels like a well-made garment to me. The hem is sewed perfectly and the sleeves are overlocked to the same high standard. I would imagine crepe is a pretty unforgiving fabric to sew, which suggests a high level of skill. The fabric is somewhat transparent in some lights, but we are in summer, after all. It depends on the price point as to whether the dress is good value, but I like it a lot despite the fit issues. I’d pay around the £25 mark for this, more if the material was thicker. I could wear a slip under it but I didn’t feel the need. I do really like the stripes and I adore the wizardy sleeves – I’d like these sleeves on every top and dress I own. The only thing I’d change is the tightness across the upper arms and shoulders, and if that issue were addressed AND it had pockets in the side seams it would instantly go into my top 10 dresses of all time. I didn’t realise how much joy a flouncy sleeve could bring me – I now have a dozen or so photos of me posing at awkward angles to show off the beautiful sleeves!
Loula: Wow! I wasn’t expecting it to be £35! I’m still not a fan of it, but seeing the pictures on the website I can see that others would really love it. It is very flattering, just not got me! I’m shocked. If I had paid that much for it, I would be disappointed with it.
As the item is UK made, yes the simple answer is I would be happy to more for it. The more complicated answer is that it still has to be an item that’s great quality and on trend. I like simple, timeless items that will fit into a capsule wardrobe with ease and last for a long time. I will always pay good money for such items, my favourite wardrobe pieces are the ones that are over 10 years old and still going strong!
Leah: I’ve had items from Lovedrobe (TopsyCurvy) before and I know they love to use crepe. I should’ve guessed! They’re always well-made items and they wash and wear well over time. I feel slightly conflicted now – I generally don’t like to spend more than £30 on a day dress, but on the other hand, I know the brand and I know the dress won’t fall apart in 3 washes.
Because this item is made in the UK and I know the workers will have been paid a fair wage (compared to sweatshop wages and working standards abroad) I would pay full price for this dress. In fact, I’m already eyeing it up in a different pattern.