It may surprise you to learn that the Harley dress in Olive Green & White Fleur De Lis by Pinup Girl Clothing was the first PUG dress I ever bought and that it went unworn for several months. This was not because I lacked the confidence to wear it in my earlier pinup transitioning days or that I felt I lacked an occasion to wear it, but simply that it was too big for me. New to PUG, I had no experience with their size charts, the cut of their clothes or the fabrics they used. At the time with a 32 inch waist I was smack in the middle between sizes, their L catering to 30-31 inch waists and their XL for 33-34 inch waists. This exclusion of the 32 inch waist is present in almost all their styles, except in items made with incredible stretch, such as with fabric like their high quality stretch bengaline, so the dilemma of whether to size up or down is ever-present for me and over time I’ve learned when and why I am able to size up or down.
The PUG size charts will typically give addition information as to whether an item has minimal or no stretch, and thus whether ladies between sizes should order up for comfort or better fit. As my memory best serves me, the size chart for my Fleur De Lis stated that ladies between sizes should order up for a looser fit, so I ordered the XL. When it arrived I was disappointed to find the dress swamped me. So loose in the waist that a belt would not fix the problem and with the bust bagging with the excess 3 inches I could not fill with my fairly modest bust, the dress was unwearable. For several weeks I listed it on eBay at full price hoping to get back what I paid minus the cost of the shipping and customs. There were no takers. When I discovered the PUG Swap/Sell Facebook group I listed it there too for £80 shipped, but no joy.
It seemed that I wouldn’t be able to sell the dress without taking an even bigger hit of losing more than the £40 I was already willing to swallow in shipping costs and customs fees, so I tried the dress on again and dithered. I did love the style and print, and desperately wanted to keep it, if I only it fit. Taking it in seemed possible, despite my being a non-sewer. Screw it, I’d give it a try.
The sensible thing to have done would have been to take it to a tailor, but damnit I’m thrifty and optimistic so I figured I could probably manage it. I put the dress on inside out, got my mum to pin the waist to fit me, then shabbily stitched it up with some extra strong thread. It worked! The waist fit. But it sat too long on me still because that gorgeous neckline is not adjustable and I didn’t have enough boobage to fill out the bust and hike the waistline up into place. I enlisted my mum once again to fold the white straps back under the back of the neckline to hide the excess and pull the bodice up into place. It was tough forcing my needle through such thick straps to sew them into place but I was unwilling to cut them and still not sure my alterations would work out, but I had success. My dress now fit, although a gaze inside the dress at the haphazard job I had done would surely horrify my costume design student sister. Despite that, whenever I wore this dress people told me it was made for me, and I didn’t bother confessing my Frankenstein fitting job to dampen their flattery.
The Olive and White Fleur De Lis print and its Black and Gold sister colourway were discontinued, and in summer 2014 a pastel yellow and a bright blue plain colourway were introduced to join the plain peach colourway already available. A fan of yellow, I immediately added the yellow to my wishlist and wondered about the sizing.
Earlier this year during a sitewide discount sale I finally purchased the yellow colourway and followed my usual now-long-established PUG rule of sizing down into the L, despite the fact that my waist measurement has swelled to 33 at present. Still, the yellow fit, as I assumed it would. Interestingly, the Harley size charts remain the same in measurements as they had been when I purchased my Fleur De Lis, but now state that despite the minimal stretch ladies between sizes should size down.
On trying on my L Harley it was immediately apparent to me the difference made in wearing my correctly fitting size. The most notable thing is that the gathered neckline sits lower, as it should, displaying a glimpse of the collarbone, compared to my hiked-up neckline on my Fleur De Lis colourway which sits upon my collarbone rather than below it.
I kind of like the fit of both necklines, and the Olive Fleur De Lis colourway remains my favourite for the print and that gorgeous mid-century olive that is so little used nowadays. The yellow colourway feels summery and fresh to me, and when I wear it I am often powerless to resist the urge to style it like Snow White with a navy cardigan and red pops. Soon after I bought my yellow dress I also ordered the peach, which is more of a coral in real life compared to the softer peachy tones shown on the site.
As you can probably tell from the fact that I own this dress in 3 colours, I love it. Typical of PUG, it has a gorgeous full gathered skirt, better than a full circle skirt but not as intensely gathered as a Jenny, which makes it a perfect middle grown for ladies who like volume as well as for those who don’t like to add excess fabric to their hips. It looks lovely worn without a petticoat but has excellent twirl-ability and houses a petticoat (or three) beautifully, worn here with only one Lindybop 26″ petticoat underneath.
The bodice is lined but there isn’t any in-built support so you’ll need to wear a strapless bra with this dress to avoid ruining the beautiful neckline and to keep your bust perky. Ladies who are well-blessed up top and adamant that no strapless bras will adequately house their lady-buns should peruse FullerFigureFullerBust‘s awesome blog to find plenty of suggestions for good bras, strapless included, that will work for the busty, because they do exist and it’s worth investing in a decent strapless whether wearing with this dress or any other.
This dress comes in sizes XS-4X, encompassing waists of 24-46inches. The Harley dress is currently available in 4 colourways and costs $130. International readers who are new to Pinup Girl Clothing and have questions about shipping, customs fees, fit, and pretty much anything else can find all that information in my Beginner’s Guide To: Pinup Girl Clothing.
Do you own a Harley? What was your first PUG dress?
I’ve been eyeballing the Harley in yellow! But, you’ve got something there with the olive green Fleur di Lis print, it is something special The neckline really suits you. Georgina sure does have some recommendations for strapless bras for the fuller busted. I am very much interested in the Curvy Kate Luxe she has worn a few times but I don’t think I have quite figured out my Curvy Kate size, and many reviewers mentioned that the sizing may be off from style to style due to level of stretch in the band, but I will remain optimistic. Some online lingerie stores carry UK brands but it seems to me the best values are found at brastop.com which makes me a bit concerned about returning/exchanging. I bought a few bras from them already in various brands and they seem to fit but the expectations of a strapless are a little different then the traditional straps.
For my first item from PUG–was actually a a Mis Cositas handbag in cupcake print that the husband bought for me (https://instagram.com/p/cNuHVDSqe_/?taken-by=conniekwbakes). At the time I hadn’t really become interested in vintage inspired dressing so it was a while before I bought a dress from them. Since I am local, I was able to attend a yard sale (June 2014) and purchased two: Monica in Teal and Tie Me Up in Black Sateen. Like you, I am between sizes. I sized up for both, but to be honest, I probably could have sized down on the Monica but it was hot and humid when I tried it on so the dress feeling sticky doesn’t help matters. The Tie Me Up doesn’t have stretch and a very fixed panel that went around for the waist so that made sense, but not the Monica (Me at home, bad lighting just before leaving to attend a wedding: https://instagram.com/p/t_MZ3Vyqfp/?taken-by=conniekwbakes). I buy for my waist because it seems to be the measurement that is always causing issues (34/35) because doesn’t correlate to the size chart, I don’t have the same degree of curviness. But, I bought that dress and wore it proudly despite not having much bottom–the dress can accommodate up to much more booty than what I had. However, I didn’t feel the dress was unflattering. The style and type of fabric made me look like I had more 😉
Sorry for writing on a novel on your blog 😉 I do appreciate the shopping guides you have written, they have helped!
Haha writing a novel in the comments is fine, I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to reply, I haven’t been able to load comments on my phone and when I’m on my PC I’m normally working on such a tight schedule for writing posts that I kept failing to find time for comment replies.
The monica is definitely a magic, confidence-building dress and you look great in it! It’s also a dress that looks better tighter than looser, so you probably could have sized down if you’re between sizes, but like you said at least you feel comfortable in it and can wear it when it’s hot and sticky without feeling too uncomfortable in the heat.
I’m jealous you’re in distance of going to the yardsales! I have high hopes to make it out to America next year at a time that coincides with one of the Yardsales but we’ll see yet whether that’s an unrealistic hope between now and then, Are you going to the next one on June 7th? Have a fabulous time!
Thank you, Miss Amy May! I do hope you will be able to visit in the future, it seems to me that they’ve been scheduling their actual yard sales early June and early December, but surely in the meantime, the online sale is awesome considering that the items are first quality. I do love being able to see things in person and try them on but it can be difficult to narrow down which pieces to buy as I cannot spend the month’s grocery money in addition to the allocated budget 😀 on dresses. I find that some items look better in person then what you can see in a picture online, especially floral printed and dresses/skirts that are solid black with details.
As ever, you are just lovely.
Totally jeal of the scenery you have for photography moments!
Yeah, my garden is pretty dope 😉 You are also just lovely! ❤
I think you’ve just inspired me to try wearing my olive Harley to work tomorrow (I haven’t worn it for a few months). I’ve got a desk job, so I tend to relegate the dresses that are sleeveless or require fancy bras, girdles, etc etc for the weekends.
Also, your shoot location for these photos looks magical!
The shoot location was my garden, lol! I haven’t been able to go to more interesting locations lately, so I’m glad my garden sufficed. And yes, wear the Harley to work! I’m a fierce advocate of not wasting good dresses 😉
Fantastic review- although I was hoping that you would say the bodice is structured so I could go braless 😔 the peachy colour is perfect on you
Ah, sadly not. I think super structured dresses run the fine line that means some women love them and other refuse to wear them because they don’t find them comfortable enough. And thank you!
I have the black & gold Fleur de Lis & the 60’s print versions of this dress (they are both size L & I find they loosen up a fair bit during the day, but I’m still not sure I could size down). I wear them a lot in the summer to do shopping etc as the shape is awesome but quite modest (although I would still wear my mermaid Lydia around town if I felt like it, haha!). I’m a novelty print junkie so would love it if they bought the Harley out in more prints, it’s possibly my favourite style that Pinup Couture have done, along with the Lydia.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they brought the Harley out in more prints or more colours. A plain red Harley would make my life!
Beautiful pictures and thank you for this, as a 32 inch waist lusting for my first PUG purchase I’ve been frustrated by their sizing charts. I think I’ll brave the L in a couple of styles and go from there.
I’m sure you’ll find the L will fit then! the 32 waist is an issue but whenever I’ve sized up into XL it’s only ever been for non-stretch boned pieces, high waisted pants, or wiggle dresses/skirt to accommodate my hips.
Hi Miss Amy May. I’m new to the whole ‘pin up thang’ and your web page is one of my favorites – so helpful, so fun and I love the community – no body shaming, on the contrary, love and support for women of all sizes and shapes. Because you looked so fab in the Harley dress (my body type is similar to yours) I took a chance and bought one and love it! So a. thanks! b. any advice on caring for it? Do you dry clean or is hand washing or gentle cycle in a machine ok? (I hand wash my Bernie Dexter dresses without any problems and would hate to spend the money on chemical cleaning unless is absolutely necessary, not to mention sparing the environment yet more chemicals). thanks much!! Erin (An American Singer living in Germany)