There are many ways it’s hard to be a small business. Having limited resources, the financial pressure of making it work so you can meet your bills or pay for your kid’s after school clubs, the gamble of stocking a new product you believe in that customers might not ‘get’ at first, trying to build up your return customer base as well as your brand recognition so you can reach new potential customers. And if you’re a small business owner who has bigger dreams, who wants not just to stock and sell but to design, to manufacture, to create, it’s harder still to build up and spend out the cost of fulfilling that dream. To create something that is yours and yours alone to offer your customers, something you made with love and passion and great hope. I’m not sure that kind of vision and bravery is something I would ever find in myself, but the beautiful thing about having my own tiny corner of the internet is that I can share the lovely things made by braver, more imaginative people than I, and today I do just that. Today we’re looking at the first dress made for Cerys’ Closet’s own brand, and it’s a made in UK beauty!
Dress: Blue Vera Sweetheart dress gifted by Cerys’ Closet
Hat: Ali Express
Brooch: Posey pin handmade by The Little Shop of Gorgeousness and Fripperies
Bangles: Old bamboo bangles
Belt: Plus size Skinny gold metal belt by Boohoo
Bag: Bamboo bag from eBay (A/L)
Shoes: Gold Palmas wedges by Hotter (A/L)
Based in South Wales, Cerys’ Closet is a small family-run business, comprised of owner Cerys and, more recently, her parents. Up until now they’ve stocked many of the best known vintage inspired brands, ready to kit you out from top to tie with accessories, clothing and shoes, but they also offer gift and homeware pieces that range from cute to quirky. They’ve even got some menswear! Obviously due to Covid-19 their shop has been shut to the public the past few months, but Cerys has still been shipping out orders from their online shop as usual.
In writing this review I got to learn about the backstory of Cerys’ Closet and it’s a pleasure for me to be able to share it with you. Cerys began her business back in 2013, a single-mother suffering with post-natal depression who had just been laid off. With only £200 in her bank account, she needed to find an outfit to wear to her best friend’s wedding where she would be giving a speech, but the high street, as it has for so many of us, failed to provide any suitable options for her voluptuous figure, offering nothing that fit well, let alone made her feel good. That experience sparked the kernel of an idea that led her to buying vintage-inspired clothing that she sold through a Facebook page. Over time her customer base grew so large she was able to lease a shop space.
It’s been two years since Cerys first began to take serious steps towards starting her own clothing line. She had learned from her customers over the years, especially her plus-sized customers, that fabrics that offered comfort and stretch was one of the most important factors they wanted in a dress, as many of the repro clothing companies available made items of mostly minimal or no stretch. She wanted to create beautiful vintage-inspired clothing that would make people feel confident AND comfortable, no matter their size.
It was important to Cerys that her items be made in the UK, not only to be eco friendly but so she could support other small businesses. She found a manufacturer that fit her criteria, but family medical difficulties meant her brand dreams were put on hold for the past year while she helped care for her dad, whom her family almost lost more than once. Once he had recovered and both of her parents had moved in with her, Cerys was able to push forward with the manufacturing of her first dress design–only for the UK to go into lockdown due to Covid-19. Recently, it became safe for Cerys’ manufacturers to begin production, and amidst all the confusion and worry of current times she was thrilled to receive the first shipment of her very first dress design just last week. It was a long and turbulent journey, but I am so pleased for Cerys that she’s been able to fulfil her dreams.
Which brings us to the Vera dress, so named because it arrived for Cerys on the day Dame Vera Lynn, the nation’s sweetheart, sadly passed. It’s a lovely piece, simple yet timeless. The sweetheart neckline flatters literally every body, while the short sleeves are the perfect length–the upper arm is an area of self-consciousness for many people, but this sleeve length hits at just the right spot to offer upper arm coverage without the threat of overheating. There’s a gentle puff effect to the shoulders which balances beautifully, and the full circle skirt is ready to twirl and swirl, a dancer’s dream. Said skirt has ample room for a full volume petticoat, as well as deep pockets that can fit my iPhone plus AND my obnoxiously chunky portable battery bank without risk of either of them falling out as I move or bend.
This dress is made for comfort as well as looks, crafted from a high quality stretch jersey material. Cheap jerseys you’ve probably found at the mall or on the high street can cling, sheer out over time, and stretch out of shape from washing and wear, but this fabric has a nice reassuring weight to it, with the added thoughtfulness of being ready to provide extra give after a large meal and promising never, ever to pinch or squeeze. It hardly creases, so it’s an excellent piece for travelling and packing. This dress has no zip or button closures to get it on and off, so just pull it on over your head and let the stretch in the fabric pull everything back into place nicely once on!
I love that the simplicity of the design means that you aren’t at all limited in your styling choices. It can be styled up for special occasions and events with ease just by adding your most glamorous accessories, but as you can see from these pictures it’s also a wonderful casual daytime piece too. This cobalt blue shade especially is something fun and special to play with, a colour I adore but don’t have much of in my closet because it’s so under utilised by the vast majority of clothing companies. If you’re not a blue person, though, you’ll be happy to learn it comes in 6 other coloursways– plain red, black, navy, purple, and emerald green, and in one print, a gorgeous pink floral.
In regards to sizing, this piece is sized generously and made more generous still by the stretch in the fabric. Cerys, like me, is a UK 18/20 and sizes down into a 16 for this dress. I opted for the 18 and it fits exactly as I wanted. I could have sized into the 16 if I wanted a tight pinup fit, but the 18 works well for me for fitting me properly with some element of skimming and leftover stretch still preserved, just the way I like. For reference my size 18 measures 36 inches flat in the waist with stretch to 46 inches, while the bust flat measures 40 inches with stretch to 47 inches. The sleeves are 16 inches flat across the bicep and have stretch up to 21 inches, while the skirt is 28 inches long. Note, this dress (and Cerys’ other future designs) are designed specifically to be super friendly to fuller busted ladies and to have plenty of stretch in the sleeves, so if you’re someone who struggles to find pieces that cater to your fabulous shape adequately, this number is an excellent option for you!
The Vera dress comes in 6 colours and 1 floral print in UK sizes 8 to 26. It is handmade in the UK and Cerys’ Closet ship worldwide.
Disclaimer: The dress featured in this review was gifted to me by Cerys’ Closet in exchange for an honest review. Items marked with (A/L) are Affiliate Links. All opinions expressed are truthful and my own, with no input from any of the companies listed or any other individuals.
COVID-19 NOTE: These pictures were taken in the safety of my garden, thus abiding by the strict social distancing rules currently in place to help reduce the spread of Covid-19. Please stay home, and when necessary to leave the house for work or necessities remember to keep at least 6 ft away from any persons you may encounter.