There are certain styles of vintage dresses that are regularly recreated amongst vintage reproduction clothing companies. One of the most popular of these styles is that of the flared swing dress with the contrast ruched bust. It’s one of the first vintage silhouettes I fell in love with, years ago long before it ever occurred to me that I could begin dressing in that style. I remember seeing a vintage dress featuring this bust style in a movie and thinking it was the most feminine, lovely design I’d ever seen, and yearning for clothes to still be made that beautifully.
So, considering all that, it might surprise you to learn that after dressing in the 50s style for 3 years, I still didn’t own a dress of this style. The problem is that while I adore that ruched bust and the way that it’s framed within the bodice, often when I’ve tried similar pieces I haven’t liked the way the skirt has fallen. I love gathered skirts that are fuller than a circle skirt because I think that level of billowing volume is the most flattering on me. These dresses sometimes have a full circle skirt but sometimes not even that, so the bust pleases me but the skirt often falls short of my preferences.
Enter Lady V London. When I saw their Madison dress I immediately noted the pleats in the skirt altered the fall and volume of this classic vintage style. Finally, a winner! Add in the fact that this piece comes in a few solid colours but also several fun prints and it got even better. I’m an ardent lover of rich, dark green, so for me this Birds of Paradise print was the immediate leader of the pack.
The green of this dress is so beautifully vibrant these early morning pictures really don’t do it justice. It really puts me in mind of an English country garden, though know that the Birds of Paradise aren’t exactly a common feature in that setting. The print is just perfect for spring and summer, with the bright, blooming florals, and it’s wonderful that these dresses are made in London. The ruched bust makes me feel just as feminine and ladylike as I’d hoped, and I love that it’s possible to style this dress up or down for different occasions because the style is so classic yet the print is so fun. Plus, this print in particular has about a dozen different colours in it, so you can really play around with your colour matching for different outfit pairings.
This dress is made of stretch cotton sateen, closes with a side zipper and is machine washable (yay!) The pleating in the skirt allows for a medium volume petticoat to be worn comfortably, though I found a 25″ length petticoat to be a better fit than the 27″ stated on the website as the length used for their pictures. The sateen is a medium weight fabric, which means you can wear it in summer in most climates without overheating.
When it comes to sizing, the product description states that this dress is unlined and has stretch, but despite that I still erred on the side of caution when choosing my size and consequently it’s a bit big. The size chart gives the measurements for the garment, not your measurements. The size 16 is stated as being 34.5 in the waist, but I found my actual dress measures 35.5 flat in the waist, which added together with the fact that it’s made from stretch sateen and is unlined means there’s plenty more give on top of that measurement. Stretching it flat, I managed to measure it at 38 inches, so definitely study the size chart closely, take your measurements and consider that you may have to size down if you’d like a snug fit. I don’t mind that mine is a little loose because it allows me to sit the straps slightly more off the shoulder, which I think is pretty with that bust feature, displaying my collarbone more.
The Madison dress comes available in UK sizes 8-22 and in a variety of colours, including 10 various prints and 3 solid colourways, all costing £45. Lady V London ship internationally and regularly send out discount codes to their newsletter subscribers, so it’s worth signing up to their mailing list.