I’m typically a wearer of 50s fashion and nothing more. Where the silhouettes of the 50s blend into the beginning of the 60s, with day dresses and such the like, you could say I claim partial style use of that decade too, but that’s about it. The 40s had beautiful tea dresses that don’t tempt me with my cinched-waist, full-skirt aesthetic love, and going back even further beyond that era tempts me less. Recently, however, I’ve been finding myself searching for fringed dresses, curious as to what I might look like in one, wondering if my curves would get lost completely beneath the tiers of tassles. It was in my search that I came across Littleblackdress.co.uk.
As you might expect, the team at Little Black Dress are all about providing a selection of LBDs and dresses for special occasions. They offer prom dresses, wedding guest dresses, evening gowns and party dresses, as well as, I was delighted to see, a full range of vintage inspired flapper dresses. They have a beautiful selection of beaded and fringed frocks that would look right at home on any dame attending one of Gatsby’s wildest parties, and what impresses me most is that their selection offers dresses in a full size range, from UK 6 up to a UK 30. They sell the head dresses and boleros necessary too for adopting the style fully from head to toe, for the purist, but for me it was great to be able to choose a dress I could style in a more personal or modern fashion should I want to, without feeling it was necessary to go the full 20s mile.
The Gatsbylady Juliet dress in Black and Gold is a gorgeous piece of 20s inspired finery, sporting a sheer overlay embellished with black beading, gold sequins and black fringing. The bead work on it is exquisite and whenever I look at this dress I find myself studying sections of it more closely to marvel at the design, as each glance offers up a new detail I hadn’t noticed before. Being a regular wearer of 50s inspired circle skirts, I’m used to wearing an outfit that’s great fun to twirl in, but I loved the different kind of joy it presents to move and shake in a flapper dress that sends fringe flying and twisting about my legs.
It surprised me that LBD doesn’t seem to have a size chart anywhere on their site. As I live in England I know the typical measurements for the UK dress size perimeters tend to size to a 30inch waist for a size 12, 32 for a 14, 34 for a 16, and so on, but that different clothing companies or stores assign their own measurements to the dress sizes depending upon their own styles and agendas. Given that flapper style dresses are supposed to be worn loose and that I am currently a 14 in stretchy clothes but a 16 on the bottom on anything without give, I wasn’t sure which size I should order.
I relayed this uncertainty to the LBD team and they passed on my measurements to the Gatsbylady PR team in order for them to confirm what size I would require in my Juliet dress. They sent me a size 14, which fits well and I’m happy with, but I know it doesn’t hang in the manner a flapper dress is generally expected to. Purists might take offense at this in the same way I can’t stand to see inches of petticoat sticking out from below the hem of a swing dress, but I think, for me, it doesn’t really matter. For one, I’m not claiming to be an authentic Charleston chick, nor am I looking to adopt the style in earnest. For another, I’m curvy. There’s no way around it.
I could wear a flapper dress sized more authentically, totally tenting my curves, but that wouldn’t be disguising them; were I to be wearing a baggy dress, it’s not like people wouldn’t be able to tell I’m a plus sized girl underneath the sequins. There’s no hiding these swerves and I am 100% happy with that. In fact, with this dress, despite it being (gasp-shock-horror) inaccurate to do so, I actually really like that it clings to my curves. It’s more subtle than wearing a va-va-voom 50s wiggle dress, but it has pzazz and glamour in a different way. I can style it fully 20s with the correct hair, makeup and accessories, sure, or I can really do whatever I want and mix up my eras and tastes to represent my style and my personality, which is why I dress vintage inspired in the first place anyway.
Saying all that, if you want to make sure your Little Black Dress is appropriately figure-skimming rather than potentially figure-hugging, I would suggest you look up a general size chart for UK sizing if you’re not familiar with it and take your measurements. If you know you’re solidly a 12, a 12 will fit you fine, but if, like me, you’re bigger on bottom than on top or your size depends on the cut, style and fabric of the dress, then I’d suggest sizing up to get a looser fit. If you’re really concerned, you can always contact the team to inquire about the fit of a certain dress.
For me, this foray into flapper-dom was a really fun change and it’s shown me that there really is no reason to steer clear of certain styles or eras because you feel you might not have ‘the right’ body type for it. There’s no such thing, and Little Black Dress’s extensive size range supports that notion 100%, so hats off to them for that.