Oh Verona [Lindybop]

I review a lot of mid-price point pinup dresses, so I’ve been making an effort lately to dig out some of the more budget-friendly items in my closet to review for ladies who are working with fewer spendable bucks leftover at the end of their paychecks. Today that budget pick is the Verona dress from Lindybop.

A black swing dress with a flared box pleat skirt, a lace overlay bust and a cut out detail on the back, this is a modest but pretty design that would work great as a little black dress of an evening.

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If I look a bit lackluster in these pictures it’s because that’s how I felt in this dress. The dim, dreary weather aside, this outfit just was not working for me.

It’s a pet peeve of mine to see bra straps and backbands showing in strapless or backless tops, not because I have an issue with underwear being on display for any modesty reasons, but because clothes designed with these features are not designed with exposed underwear in mind as part of the look; strapless tops are meant to showcase your shoulders, not your bra straps, and backless tops are meant to show off your back, not your backband. Consequently, my style nerve twitches to see a look lessened by the inability to find creative underwear solutions to creative design ideas. That said, more often than not the fault doesn’t lie entirely with the wearer when dealing with products produced by high street and budget companies. Said companies often have no qualms in producing clothing of no- or -ill-structure that require you to search far and wide for specific, extreme underwear solutions in order to wear them, as those companies don’t want to invest the time and money in researching and creating a decent structural support as part of the garment construction, despite the fact that the average women does not feel comfortable nor confident in going braless.

This dress is one of those items that is designed with no thought given to how it realistically will be worn, designed creatively but produced cheaply. The lace detail of the neckline and the back of the dress is stunning and pretty much the reason I ordered this dress, but there is no way to wear a normal or strapless bra with this dress without it showing and ruining the entire concept of the design. The solution is a low back bustier bra, handy if you already own one, but annoying to have to search out if you don’t. I purchased my bustier a couple years back on ASOS, but even though I own it I still tend to avoid wearing it as I don’t feel it gives my breasts any modicum of oompfh, so when wearing this bustier I don’t fill out a dress in the same way as I would even wearing a well-fitted standard bra that doesn’t specifically lift, push or boost. I feel the same lack of oompf is obvious in this dress specifically; the bust on it is roomy and with my low-back bustier merely cupping but not truly supporting my boobs, I do not fill out the too-big bust properly and don’t have decent cleavage in it, which is a shame. So, to wear it I either have to invest in a much better backless bustier bra or I have to live with the slightly sad boobage. Going braless in it isn’t an option because there is zero support there.

Another concern I have in fit is that, as per usual with Lindybop swing dresses, this size 14 fits me loosely, even though their size 14 is for 32 inch waists, their size 16 is for 34, and my current 33 inch waist should see this fitting snugly. Instead I have plenty of fabric at the waist to pinch, meaning a 32 inch waisted lady would be swimming in this. Wearing a belt with this is not only preferred but a necessity to achieve any conceivable notion of a flattering silhouette.

I desperately wanted this dress to do better than the other Lindybop dresses I own, but it doesn’t. The usual Lindybop issue of tight sleeves is avoided only because there are no sleeves, the waist is too big as usual, and the necessity for a low-back bra could have been avoided if the design team had thought to bring the waistband up higher in the back to cover a bra’s backband if they determinedly did not want to invest in constructing a bust or bodice that actually provided some support of its own.

It’s a lovely idea and a steal at £34.99 but I think women who share my pet peeve for bra straps on show will find themselves frustrated and unable to wear this dress to its unfulfilled potential. Women who don’t care about flashing their straps can probably find a way to wear this dress without mimicking my forlorn feelings.

Do you own any dresses that have caused you to engage in an underwear solutions struggle?

Modern Malibu Barbie [PUG Malibu Tiki Dress]

As it’s almost June it’s that time of year when I dress in summery prints and cuts regardless of what the temperamental British weather is doing (read as: most of the time it’s a bit chilly and kind of dull, but I’m stubborn and wear what I like anyway.) This time last year I didn’t own many super summery or tropical style dresses, but after many a good sale since then I now have my optimistic English paws on several. Because of this I decided it’s time to show you some of my favourites over the next few weeks and review them all for the usual perimeters of fit, quality, availability and price so that I can give you an idea of whether my favourites have a good chance of working well enough for you to become one of yours.

First up is the Pinup Girl Clothing Malibu Tiki dress. This sarong style dress has been a staple of PUG’s summer styles for several years, available currently in 3 different tropical flower prints and a plain black colourway, following a successful run of the original baby blue and pink print which was famously worn by Amy Winehouse. That last mentioned print was the first of the style, but since then the dress has been redesigned and tinkered with to become an immaculately-fitting specimen of Polynesian inspired perfection. Micheline Pitt, designer of the dress, even gives a rundown of her inspirations and the history of the dress design in a post she wrote on the Pinup Girl Style website.

Pinup girl clothing Malibu Tiki dress

I fell for this dress hard last summer and added all three tropical colourways to my forever-full PUG wishlist. It wasn’t until the wintery beginning of this year that I decided to use a PUG giftcard I’d been given for christmas by my lovely friend Kimi to finally help me purchase this dress…and I tortured myself trying to decide which colour to get. I, and half my friends I asked about this, thought the green and purple colourway would probably look the best with my red hair and pale skin, but there was something about the blue and red colourway which seemed the most special to me, and was the colourway that I always pictured in my head when thinking of this dress. Still, the orange was so unique…Ah, but that blue. I didn’t really wear bright blues though…? Back then, I didn’t.

Which did I choose in the end?

Pinup Girl Clothing Malibu Tiki dress

I went with the blue. In reality I would happily own all three tropical prints of this dress and now that I have the blue I find my yearning for the green grows even stronger. I’m glad I went with the blue; the blue contrasted with the red pops so well and I think it works on my pale skin to really stand out. I especially love that I have a huge and fabulous hair piece to wear with it custom designed by darling Miss Osiria Rose of Daisy Jean Floral to match this dress exactly, as she and I both share a love for this design.

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I often feel that sarong dresses aren’t as flattering on me as traditional wiggles because although the extra folds and drapes of the sarong style can be camouflaging for my stomach, it also sometimes feels like it adds volume I don’t need there. This dress, however, makes me feel like a babey babe. I feel comfortable and confident in it, and the addition of the bolero not only makes me feel comfortable being able to cover my arms but it also makes me feel infinitely more stylish and chic. PUG is great for adding matching boleros to their Hawaiian style dresses, so this isn’t their only dress to come with a bolero.

The dress has adjustable straps, a PUG staple, which is a godsend for adjusting the fit to work for your bust size and torso length, allowing you to get the fit just so. The sarong style of the skirt ties at the left hip and the dress closes with a back zipper and hook and eye. Due to the sarong style of the skirt, the skirt hangs in a slight tulip shape rather than fitted through like a pencil. It’s got a well-structured and lightly padded bust which means you don’t have to wear a bra if you don’t want to, something that’s a great option for summer when we all know how horrible it is to have one of those random my-bra-is-so-uncomfortable-today days for no good reason, ever worsened by heat and clammy skin.

This dress is one of those PUG dresses that tells you to size up if you’re between sizes as there is minimal room for stretch. So, just to confuse you, as is usually the case with putting PUG on my body, I happen to be able to size down into the L. My bust measurements fall within the allowed 40-41 range and my hips within the 41-43 for the L, so the sizing issue only concerned my waist. The L waist measurements are 30-31 inches for this dress, the same as most other PUG dresses, and the XL measurements 33-34inches, as usual missing out us 32ers. When I ordered this dress my waist was around 32.5; you would sensibly think that sizing up into something only 0.5 inches larger than my measurement would work best but I’ve typically found XL waists from PUG swamp me, with the bust measurements also made to accommodate more racking than I’m stacking. So, when I ordered I followed my PUG experienced gut and went with my usual L. Nowadays my waist is 33 (cheese, you and I gotta stop meeting like this, seriously) and still this dress fits me without feeling too snug for comfort. There’s no boning, so it’s not as restrictive as dresses featuring such, but despite all this I would still say it’s best to trust PUG and order up.

The thing is that I know my body, I know how PUG is cut and how a lot of styles run, and I know that my waist compresses easily. I have a fairly defined waist, with weight gaining and dropping across my entire bodily evenly, leaving my shape consistent even when my size grows or drops. Considering this, when I have to wear something with a tight waist it means my extra chub can squish down below the waistline if needed to get something to zip up, and I know I feel both physically and confidently-comfortable with this. If I had larger boobs or a less defined waist I wouldn’t be able to size down so often in PUG because my waist wouldn’t compress and my boobs would refuse to fit. I consider my body a PUG sizing anomaly and suggest you trust their size charts and their statement that there’s minimal stretch involved. If you size up and end up with extra room in the waist then it would only require a little taking in to get the dress to fit.

The Malibu Tiki dress costs $140 and is available direct;y through Pinupgirlclothing.com or from select global PUG stockists. If you’ve never ordered direct from PUG and have any questions, I’ve got you covered with my Beginner’s Guide To: Pinup Girl Clothing.

If there’s anything else you want to know that I forgot to cover, hit me up in the comments.