The Niagara dress by Pinup Girl Clothing is a ruched wiggle dress heavily inspired by the pink dress worn by Marilyn Monroe in the movie Niagara. The original dress from the movie, designed by 3-time Oscar winning costume designer Dorothy Jeakins, was such a hit after fans saw the movie that copies were made and sold in 1950s department stores. Dorothy originally made and screen tested the dress in red, as seen below, before it was decided that the hot pink version that appeared in the movie was the winning colour. Pinup Girl Clothing tip their hat to the design of this dress by making it in both the hot pink and red colours Dorothy designed, as well as black and a tiffany blue. In the past other colourways, such as navy and bronze taffeta, have also been made.
Like the dress worn by Marilyn in the movie, the PUG Niagara dress features an underbust cut-out, ruching on the stomach, and a wide collar-bone bearing neckline. The PUG version, while incredibly similar, has a front slit, more pronounced ruching, and a smaller keyhole.
I had wanted this dress for a long time, in part because it’s gorgeous and in part because every time I see @Curvecreation on Instagram wearing hers I get those bombshell feels. It was the usual hang-ups that stopped me ordering it–I don’t wear a lot of wiggles, so would it be worth it? And I’m self-conscious about my stomach, would bengaline really be forgiving to to it? I almost bought it about 3 different times but always talked myself out of it. Finally, with some encouragement from friends, in particular my soul sister Giselle, I decided to get it.
It’s the red version that takes my breath away, but once I decided I would buy it I still debated whether I should buy the black option instead. We all know the old adage that black is more flattering, and as someone who doesn’t wear wiggles often I thought maybe I would be brave enough to wear this more if I had it in the black. The black, though, didn’t have the same fun, sassy, lively feel to it that the red gives me, so with Giselle’s continued supportive insistence that the red was the only way to go, I decided to challenge myself by buying the red as further work on my body and soul that I’m attempting with my #LovingMeIn2015 endeavor.
The red was the right choice. My god, was it. It has exactly the vibrant, earth-shattering feel to it that I fell for in pictures, making me feel like a real screen siren. I was scared of the bengaline, hearing some tout it as a godlike fabric and others say it will show up any imperfections. The truth is somewhere in the middle. Cheap, thin bengaline will cling to your every imperfection and sin, but well made thicker bengaline will hug and love you in all the right places, as well as feeling soft and comfortable compared to the scratchiness of cheap bengaline. It doesn’t have any shaping qualities as a fabric so building your own foundation with shapewear is down to you, but when you get that right this dress is a goddess dress of burning sunsets and sultry kisses and molten chocolate. The torso ruching on is super flattering and it makes me feel more comfortable than I do in other wiggle dresses because I feel assured it adds some extra camouflage to my low-confidence stomach area.
Let’s tackle the one thing I know you’re probably most concerned about: the keyhole bust detail feature. Yes, this feature is sexy as all hell, but it poses some underwear problems. Even a plunge bra with a thin connecting strap between the cups will still be visible in this cut out, so that leaves limited options. There are bras that have a clear plastic strap that connects the cups in the front which may work if you can find the right one, but for me the solution was a super plunge bra designed specifically for plunge neckline tops and dresses. I own one the Ultimate Deep plunge by Wonderbra and it is perfect for this dress.
I’m able to position the straps more onto the edge of my shoulders so they’re still covered by the dress, but to be honest I could probably take the straps off this bra and the uplift wouldn’t be badly effected. I’m tempted to sew little bra-keepers into the shoulders of this dress (loops attached to the inside shoulders of the dress that will hook around the straps of my bra to keep them in place so they aren’t able to slip into sight.) I’m super pinickity about bra straps not showing, so this is merely an extra step I am considering personally and by no means a necessary step for everyone considering this dress. I mention it only as an option you may want to consider too if you, like me, get easily bugged by a visible bra strap ruining the crisp finish of a look. On myself I prefer the shoulders of the dress worn strap-up on my shoulders, rather than slightly off shoulder, because then I don’t get any bagging or looseness, as this dress is roomy in the bust area.
I like to wear smoothing shorts under this dress just to get a clean, smooth shape, but no serious shapewear is required under this dress in terms of fit. I almost sized up into the XL as I only own two other wiggle dresses by PUG and they’re XL. Thank god I didn’t size up. As is in the L the top comes up a bit large due to the design idea of the top coming a bit off shoulder and the tie bust detail combining with my modest 39inch bust, so I combat this by tying the bust tie tightly to create a more flattering and tighter fit up top. Had I sized into the XL, the bust would have been huge and probably unsalvageable on me.
The size charts for the L in this dress said the bust would fit 37.5-41.5 (I’m 39,) waist 28.5-32.5 (theoretically just barely fitting me in that category, as I’m 33) and hips 40-44 (I’m 44.) The XL is bust 40.5-44.5 (much too big for me,) waist 31.5-35.5 (I’d be bang in the middle there) and hips 42-46 (in the middle again.) Looking at those measurements I can see that it was right for me to size down into the L, because even though the XL would cover all my measurements easily (although be a bit big in the bust,) and I would theoretically be fitting the L in its middle-to-larger end of the range, that L was always going to fit. My measurements are covered and the dress is stretchy. Sizing down means achieving the figure hug that this dress is designed to give. So my advice would be to follow the size charts with confidence and not fear, never sizing up if your measurements are covered by the size below, because a wiggle dress that fits loosely isn’t really doing it’s job.
The Niagara dress costs $96, is maternity friendly, comes in 4 colours, and is available in sizes XS-2X.