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?