Pinafore Playsuit Playtime [Collectif]

If I were to say the phrase ‘Hands up if you think Miss Amy May would wear a playsuit pinafore set with side cut-outs’ not only would I expect nobody to raise their hands, but I would make a huge point of shoving mine firmly and roughly into my armpits, warm and safe in the comfortable folds of my stubborn body.

I’ve worn a dress in the past that had a large cut-out in the midriff and I did a whole enthusiastic blog post about it–I did, here, you can even see for yourself. But, you see, that was a couple of dress sizes and a whooole lot of lbs ago. And that doesn’t mean I can’t wear such items of clothing now that I’m nearer a size 18 than a 12, it just means that, you know, it’s a less comfortable prospect for me right now. Because, absolutely, I 100% still stand by my feelings that everyone should get to wear whatever they want, no matter their size, gender, or anything else, really, that people try to use as an excuse to dictate how and why people should dress themselves to please others and not themselves. I will never not believe that. Buuuut I can believe that while being body positive and also a bit wary of putting my pudge on show. Because it’s all about doing what makes you feel comfortable. Having large swathes of my middle-body flesh on show has never made me particularly comfortable, not even for those brief few months when I was a size 10, several years back. Even my very petite, very slim blogger friend Carly expressed reservations to me about exposing the exact same semi-circles of skin when we were discussing Collectif’s adorable new Talis skirt and top pinafore set.

It’s that aforementioned matching set and the identical set of reservations found in both Carly and myself that has brought us, me, to this post. Because it’s really easy as a chubby woman to look at slim women and think ‘Why are you worried about wearing that? I don’t see an ounce of fat on you. I’d wear that in a heartbeat if I had your body‘ but that’s just…just a thought, really. Nothing more and nothing less. It’s a projection of self-imprisonment. It’s an echo of all the times we’ve heard or sensed or seen proof that we, the chubbier, aren’t supposed to show people how chubby we are.

We have internalized that a million times over, and even if we think it’s unfair and stupid and superficial and gross, we still can’t help but repeat it back to ourselves inside our own heads in the form of misplaced wish fulfilment and frustration. ‘OMG you have a perfect little body, just wear the cool thing!’ It’s something that’s so easy to think, even to say, and it shouldn’t be. Putting on what we want to wear should be the easy thing. It should be. I know it’s not, not always. But it should be. One day, I would like the world to be the kind of place where it really is the easy thing, where no one bats an eyelid at what another person is wearing, except to get a better look at it and to say ‘Hey, that’s such an interesting outfit. You’re rocking it!’

So in honour of that wish, in honour of all the ladies trying their best to be body positive but sometimes still fighting off the demon that idealises their friends’ bodies; in honour of the soft, squashy bits that almost everyone has somewhere on their body; in honour of the hard, sharp parts that almost everyone has as well somewhere on their body; and in honour of this totally cute mix ‘n’ match line that Collectif dreamed up for this season, I give you my squashy middle and the adorable Talis pinafore duo.

Collectif green Talis swing skirt Talis Pinafore top Collectif green Talis swing skirt Talis Pinafore topCollectif green Talis swing skirt Talis Pinafore topCollectif green Talis swing skirt Talis Pinafore topCollectif green Talis swing skirt Talis Pinafore top Collectif green Talis swing skirt Talis Pinafore topCollectif green Talis swing skirt Talis Pinafore top Collectif green Talis swing skirt Talis Pinafore top Collectif green Talis swing skirt Talis Pinafore topCollectif green Talis swing skirt Talis Pinafore topCollectif green Talis swing skirt Talis Pinafore topCollectif green Talis swing skirt Talis Pinafore top

Top: Talis Plain Pinafore top C/O Collectif
Skirt: Talis Swing Skirt (coming soon) C/O Collectif
Hat: Old Primark
Bag: White Vintage inspired bag by Lola Von Rose
Hair flowers: Ivory Blossom Falls hair clips by Alternate Normality
Bangles: Splendette Woven Bamboo bangle / Bamboo pack / Thrifted gold bangle
Wedges: Old F&F @ Tesco
Brooch: Luxulite

I saw this pinafore set and the other matching items in the Talis range previewed at last September’s London Edge. At first I only saw the skirt, mistaking it excitedly for a new colourway of the Jasmine, my not-so-new favourite skirt, and I wondered about the addition of the waistband buttons. It was promptly explained to me that there was going to be a matching top that buttoned on to the skirt, creating a cute pinafore set with a cut-out sides feature. That same top could also be buttoned onto a pencil skirt, shorts and pair of cigarette trousers, with the selection of pieces available in mint green, navy blue or a navy/white pinstripe, creating a plethora of possible mix ‘n’ match outfits sets available. This struck me as genius and just the kind of fun, clever-spirited thing I expect from true vintage. There are plenty of ladies I know who will be dying to buy a selection of these pieces so they can create a bunch of mix ‘n’ match playsuits to their heart’s content. Collectif, you did good.

The Talis top closes with 3 large buttons in the centre of the back, with an elasticated shirred section on each side to give stretch and comfort to the top. The thick shoulder straps mean you don’t have to worry about wearing a strapless bra as they give full coverage. The stretch panels on the sides means my boobs aren’t crushed and it’s super comfortable to wear in general. I’m wearing the size 16/XL, on which the flat measurement of the bust comes in at 41 inches and stretches up to 46 inches. Flat measured the length of the top from the centre of the shoulder straps to the hem of the top is 14.5 inches, with the cut outs being approximately 2.5 inches from the bottom of the top to the waistband of the skirt. I know it rarely gets to be boiling hot in there UK so perhaps the idea of the cut-outs makes you feel a bit nippy, but you can always add a cute cropped cardigan on days that aren’t scorching, like I have above, or take one with you so that your hot afternoon in the beer garden doesn’t turn suddenly chilly when you’re still there at 9 that evening.

The Talis swing skirt has the same fullness as Collectif’s Jasmine skirt, fitting a medium fullness petticoat without any trouble. It closes with an invisible back zipper topped with a hidden hook and eye, and has three buttons in the centre front of the waistband to affix the matching top. If you like the skirt but aren’t interested in wearing the matching top, you can easily wear the skirt alone. If you do but find that the buttons bug you then you can cover them with a belt or just snip them off. Plus, there’s pockets, hurrah! The fabric doesn’t have much give, so my size 16 flat measures 34 inches in the waist and only stretches an inch, max, to 25 inches, making it spot on with the size chart. It measures 26 inches long.

Honestly, when I agreed to photograph this set, I did so fully in the name of body positivity and empowering other plus sized women to wear what they wanted, while secretly assuming it was going to look terrible and I was going to have to creatively pose to minimise my self-consciousness about my very squishy sides. But that didn’t end up being the case. The first time I tried it on I was pleased with how surprisingly okay I felt and looked in it. And by the time I took these photos, I felt sassy as all hell. I’m awesome! I’m so cute and stylin’! And I’m a chubb monster! None of those things are mutually exclusive. So, despite my reluctant and tentative start, if you, too, immediately liked the idea of this set on first glance and then talked yourself out of it–go with your first instinct. You’re a babe, regardless of your size, and a cute outfit is a cute outfit, also regardless of your size. Wear it, whatever it is, with pride.

The Talis Plain Pinafore top in green (sizes 6-22 £25) and the Talis Plain Pencil skirt (sizes 6-22 £30) are the only items from the line currently available. The green swing skirt I’m wearing here, as well as all the other navy and striped pieces from the Talis line will all be available soon, so keep your eye on the Collectif website to check for their release. All items will be carried in UK sizes 6-22 and Collectif ship internationally.

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Tigerlily and I say be happy and rock your outfit!

In Love With Iris [Louella DeVille]

In case you haven’t heard of Louella DeVille, I’m here to do you a favour by telling you: y’all, you need to know about Louella DeVille. It might spark your sense of recognition if I tell you that this clothing line is designed by and sold through what was once Your One Stop Pinup Shop, an Australian pinup boutique that has in the past included brick-and-mortar stores, pinup pamper photography session packages and, a while back, the original beginnings of this clothing line, before owner Bek’s lovely daughter began to walk and Bek put the line on hold.

Over the following years as her little girl grew, Bek grew her business with those Australian stores, as well as photographing hundreds of ladies in their pinup finest in her studio. Last year Bek moved the store entirely online, becoming Louella DeVille Boutique, and recently, finally, the time came for her to bring her ideas of her own vintage inspired clothing line back out to play.

First came skirts in fun and varied prints. Through social media, I followed along, curious as to where the line would go. There’s now tops, too, as well as dresses, but it’s these dresses, oh these dresses, that have really caught my attention.

The Polly was the first style, darling and sweet, one of my favourite vintage sundress shapes offered in some lovely prints. I’m supposed to be saving, but I knew that if it came in a print I couldn’t resist then I’d eventually have to make a purchase. So far, I had been managing to sensibly resist. Buuuut…then a few weeks back Bek posted teasers of the 2 new shapes and multiple new prints coming soon to the dress line and that was it, I was sold. On which one, I dithered for a short while, but with spring due soon and the print reminding me of that first clean, fresh smell that announces its happy arrival, it had to be the Iris print Frenchie dress. I put it in my cart–then paid my bills, checked my account balance, and sadly removed it from my cart again. Sigh. Adulthood.

…And then I sold a couple dresses I don’t wear anymore and immediately bought the dress anyway, because that counts as adulting, right? Okay whatever, you’ll understand when you see it. Because look:

Iris Frenchie Dress Louella DeVille Clothing YOSPSIris Frenchie Dress Louella DeVille Clothing YOSPSIris Frenchie Dress Louella DeVille Clothing YOSPSIris Frenchie Dress Louella DeVille Clothing YOSPSIris Frenchie Dress Louella DeVille Clothing YOSPSIris Frenchie Dress Louella DeVille Clothing YOSPSIris Frenchie Dress Louella DeVille Clothing YOSPSIris Frenchie Dress Louella DeVille Clothing YOSPSIris Frenchie Dress Louella DeVille Clothing YOSPS Iris Frenchie Dress Louella DeVille Clothing YOSPSIris Frenchie Dress Louella DeVille Clothing YOSPSDress: Iris Frenchie dress by Louella DeVille Clothing
Cardigan: Ice Blue Tootsie Cropped Cardigan from Doll Me Up
Bag: Erin Wicker style handbag by Dancing Days
Shoes: Old New Look
Bangles: Woven bamboo bangles by Splendette / bamboo bangles / thrifted gold bangle

I know a dress is special when my friends and family comment on it when I wear it. They’re used to seeing me all dolled up and often in new clothes, but I think my wardrobe sometimes blurs together to them, with my mum frequently asking me ‘Is that new?’ on the second or third time she’s seen me in the same dress. This Frenchie dress, though, captured everyone. I can’t pretend it didn’t floor me, too, because I found it hard not to repeatedly state ‘I love this dress so much’ multiple times while wearing it, as if I had just begun dating a new beau and was struggling not to gush about him at every given opening in the conversation.

I figured that, given it’s February and given I live in England, my blog pictures in this dress would probably have to be taken on a chilly overcast day, as most blog pictures are. But I woke up last Saturday morning with plans to take Frenchie and my camera to the park to do the best we could with the weather, only to find that said weather was just…perfect. Sunny, airy, not hot but not cold, it really did feel like spring was here. I drove with my windows down. I had to take my sunglasses with me in my pocket. I didn’t need to wear tights. And somehow, somehow, as crazy as it sounds, part of me whispered that it must be the magic of this dress. I already admitted it sounded crazy, okay? Don’t judge me for it. But seriously…*whispers* I think it might be a magic dress.

To explain why, let me lay it out for you fully. The beauty of this Iris print aside, there’s almost every design feature I love most in a vintage style dress: tie shoulder straps, a straight neckline, a full gathered skirt that lays beautifully both with and without a petticoat, and forever all caps POCKETS. To top it all off, there’s a wonderful unexpected stretch in this fabric that makes it joyously comfortable to wear. Once again, I question if this dress is magic, because it fit me equally as well when my waist was cinched down a few inches with my favourite basque bra as it did shapewear free and a bit bloated. Literally, on one day when I wore this dress I did so over my cincher for a couple hours before removing said shapewear to be more comfortable for the long sit of going to see a movie, and the dress just went ‘sure, no problem, lemme expand here for ya, even though I didn’t look baggy a few seconds ago when your waist was much smaller.’ *Whispers* magic. 

Regarding fit, I definitely require a UK 16-18 in most dresses these days, so I was a bit wary of the size chart on this dress stating a 14 would fit me. Still, I decided to trust it and ordered the 14 I was advised to. It’s perfect. The size chart for the size 14 states it flat measures 34 inches and stretches to 36. Mine measures 35 and stretches to 37 inches, admittedly after wear so that could be a bit broken in, but generally it’s very accurate to the chart with just a little bit more give. I recommend you take your measurements if you don’t already know them and follow the chart to select your correct size. The skirt length measures 27.5 inches long and it’s happy to accommodate your floaty medium volume petticoats.

The Iris print Frenchie dress comes in sizes 8-22 and costs $129AUD, with other prints available in this same Frenchie dress style. This print is close to selling out, so if you’ve got your heart set on it I recommend you act quickly. Louella DeVille Boutique stocks their Louella DeVille line exclusively, shipping worldwide and offering a weekly promotional deal to save you money, including the 20% off promotion I took advantage of to order this dress. If you want to keep up to date with those weekly deals, you can follow Louella DeVille Boutique on their social media (Facebook and Instagram) or sign up to their newsletter on their website.