WARNING - SUPER IMAGE HEAVY POST!
Well this is a turn up for the books! I never thought I'd be the sort of blogger who would be ASKED to review plus size clothing. Lets face it, my style of reviewing can be brutal and I've been pretty damning of Simply Be in the past! I was therefore surprised when I was asked to take part in a review of the new Anna Scholz range..... you guys know how much I love Anna Scholz (maybe Simply Be have also noticed my fetish?!) and although there are many amazing pieces (the jewel print skirt and jacket was sorely tempting!) one item in particular went straight into my wish-list the second I saw it. Obviously I said yes to this review, but don't fear dear readers - I am still going to be 100% honest with you about my views on the dress I received, even if it might mean I'm never asked to review anything ever again!
In the beginning.....
When I started my blog last year, I didn't have a single dress from Simply Be, (a size 22-24 woman with over 100 dresses!) but I now have quite a few, some of which are from the Anna Scholz range. This isn't because I suddenly started liking their clothing, it's because their selection has improved hugely. They may not be at the super trendy end of the scale where Asos Curve sits, but they have overtaken places like Evans by MILES. They seem to be listening to their customers and it's working.
Oh my god would you just look at this dress! The colours are glorious, the cut is fabulous and in all honesty it's so like one of Anna's white label creations that I was amazed to see something this special in her diffusion line.
When I look at this dress I see Monet's Water lilies, and you know how much I love prints that look like paintings or drawings!
Better make an effort...
It would be a rather massive understatement to say that I could take better pictures than the ones you see on my blog. I have both the ability and the equipment to take professional photographs. What I don't have is the time! I made the decision to just do snapshots when I started this blog, because I didn't want blogging to impact too much on my real life (the life that pays my bills, loves my partner and spends quality time with friends and family I mean!) so you get to see what I wear and buy, but the pictures are pretty basic. The thing is, Simply Be have given me a dress worth £75 to review, and I really wanted to make a bit more of an effort in order to thank them, so I demanded that my boyfriend learned how to press the button on my camera so that we could go and take pictures in the back garden. He did a pretty good job considering.....
The Actual Review (at last Parsnips, blabbermouth!)
TYPICAL! We planned the shoot for Saturday and it rained non-stop! This is how it went.. work work work all week, busy in the evenings, he's out gigging all day Sunday, we are going out on cultural adventures on bank holiday Monday.... gotta do it on Saturday. Grab the umbrella!
These are taken in natural light (what there was of it!) and as you can see the dress still looks beautiful.
A few facts about the dress I'm wearing. It's a size 24 (I definitely wouldn't have fitted into the 22) and the fabric is thick and firm, but also quite stretchy. I wouldn't be able to wear this in high summer as I'd get too hot, but it will be perfect for cool weather, and would look fabulous with tights too.
When I got this dress out of the box I was so excited. The colours and print are just as impressive in real life as in the photos. The cut is so nicely structured. I also like the fabric.
There are many pros! There are however some cons. This one may be specific to me because I have a long torso, but the bodice feels quite short to me, and because of the slightly silky nature of the fabric I keep having to pull it down. In an ideal world I'd have a longer body and a longer peplum too!
The second con will certainly depend on your bust line. I really feel like the shaping on the bust is very high. What I'd describe as the nipple area (!) is only 10 inches from the shoulder, which for me is a good 3inches higher than where my boobs protrude the most. The fabric is stretchy so it still works, but I do think this might cause problems for ladies with very large breasts, particularly if they come down to near your waist.
This con is more universal.... generally the seams on the main section of the dress seem sturdy, but some of the stitching on the hems are really flimsy, and honestly? On a few occasions when I sat down I could hear thread breaking. I had this problem with the delicious Anna Scholz clashing print dress I tried, where the fabric was stretchy but the thread used for the seams was very weak and just broke. I can't find any holes so hopefully the thread has broken in areas that have strong seams, but I urge Simply Be to use better quality thread... there's no point in having stretch fabric if the seams aren't strong enough to stretch, and for £75 I wouldn't expect to hear threads breaking whenever I sit down!
My last gripe wont be a problem for women of average height or below, but for me and my taller ladies this may be a deal breaker. The dress is WAY shorter than I was expecting it to be, and to be honest I'm quite gutted about it!
Seriously, I was not expecting this to be above the knee on me! I am 100% sure that this model is taller than me, and it's a good few inches below her knees. How is it possible that it's above the knee on me?! Really disappointed that the length seems so different.....
I'm looking on the bright side though - the hems are pretty chunky, so I'm planning to take it down on the skirt (and probably the arms too as I'd like them to be a tad longer... that's just because I have sumo wrestler arms so the sleeves are quite tight!). I'm hoping this will make it a better length on me, because truly, if this was longer (or came in a tall version) it would be my dream dress!
How I created my look & styled this up....
This dress is perfect to wear to weddings, so I thought I'd wear it with a cute pillbox hat.
I love a quirky hat!
I saved my new shoes for this post. I'm so in love with them!
I'm a big fan of Ecco shoes in terms of comfort, but they're not always the most stylish of shoes are they?! Anyway, I loved their 'sculptured' collection, they're really stunning, and despite looking rather high they're surprisingly manageable! I think they are designed to look higher than they actually are... it's very clever! I managed to get these in TKmaxx for £35 (down from £90). I got my normal Ecco size 40, which always seem to fit no matter what style.
I knew I wanted a simple shoe to go with the dress. Nude is ideal because there is so much going on in the dress, the colours, the pattern, the peplum.... in my humble opinion you don't want accessories that will fight against it or pull focus, so these are a great shoe (comfortable too!)
See what I mean about it being short on me?!
I'd like a longer peplum to cover my belly, but it's not that big a deal!
The other thing I wanted was simple make up. Good make up, and lots of it, I just didn't want it to look like there was lots of it!
For me the dress has 2 colours that stand out most, green and purple. I plumped for a purple toned nude look using my trusty old Mac compact and last months favorite lip balm NYC 'Applelicious'.
Generally I look shit in purple tones (particularly lipstick - it makes me look like a corpse!) so I can only use more pinky brown / nude purples. This lip balm is ideal as it just hints at purple. this shade is 'Apple Blueberry Pie'. I used the top two shades of eyeshadow.
I used the pale shadow all over the lid, and then used the purple brown shadow around the socket and blended inwards. Bit of liquid liner, bit of mascara, on with the lippy and done!
Hopefully I ended up with a look that went with the dress but didn't over do it!
Overall I am 80% in love with this dress. If it came in a 'tall' version it would probably be nearer 100%! I do think the proportions and length might make it more suitable for shorter women than me, and possibly those with smaller and more perky breasts (!) but I'm still looking forward to wearing it out.... expect to see me wearing (the slightly adjusted version of) this to a work event soon!
One more for you... with flash so you can really see how the dress glows in bright light!
Umbrella - Poundland a decade ago (best £1 I ever spent!)
Pillbox hat / fascinator - China via Ebay
Dress - Anna Scholz for Simply Be
Shoes - Ecco
Make sure to check out the other bloggers who are reviewing pieces from this collection....