I’ve never really been one to suffer from FOMO, except when it comes to clothes. So when The Pretty Dress Company released their signature Tilly prom dress in multiple velvet colourways for the 2021 festive season and my social feeds filled up with dozens of gorgeous pinups twirling in their Tillys in the run up to Christmas, yes, I’ll admit, I was jealous. The Tilly is a slight reimagining of their Thea swing dress from a few years back, the same flattering overall shape but with statement bows added to the off-the-shoulder sleeves. I owned the Thea in a cobalt blue and it was one of my favourite dresses to wear, until I gained weight and sized out of it. I still have it, packed away carefully in storage in case I fit it again someday. So for the Tilly dress to offer that same level of glamour and style as Thea did, but in lush, sumptuous velvets…oh, my heart ached. It wasn’t in my winter budget to treat myself to a Tilly, so I felt certain that we would never be–or at least, not this season.
But then one day, not too long ago, I read those magic, magic words: end of season sale, up to 50% off.
Dreams really do come true!
Dress: Sapphire Velvet Tilly Prom dress by The Pretty Dress Company*
Stole: Old faux fur stole from eBay
Shoes: Gold Santorini flats by Charlie Stone Shoes*
Bag: Lucite bag by KookiDeLou
Hat: Rachel hat by Belbeina Lee
The discount on this dress in the sale is crazy good, but it still took a couple days for me to talk myself into buying one, mostly because I was struggling to decide which Tilly to get as I loved so many of the colourways and was even torn between whether to opt for one of the velvets or the one of the crepes. Practicality (the crepe has that slightly more casual feel to it, it could more easily be worn year round) warred with my heart’s truest yearning (the velvet is exquisite! It can still be worn year round for occasion wear, and layered in colder months.) In the end I decided that since this dress was a treat, and one of several back-ups I keep accumulating for my sister’s wedding in the spring, (don’t ask how many I have now, that excuse has proven far too easy to use,) I may as well fulfil my deepest yearning, which was the velvet. My size had sold out in several of the velvet colours by this point, so I decided to grab a sapphire in a nod to my love for that original cobalt blue Thea I fell in love with years ago. Plus, I have a stunning blue handmade, vintage inspired velvet half-hat made by Belbeina Lee that I suspected would be a near-perfect match, which seemed like fate.
Tilly is all that I believed it would be. Timeless, top quality, flattering, sexy, chic. The draped neckline is all class and seduction, so beautiful it makes me want to do a little internal scream, while the bows on the off-the-shoulder sleeves add both a focal detail of interest but also a little bit of upper arm coverage that can prove so reassuring to those of us who feel self-conscious about our arms. The fitted bodice is boned, made to cinch in the waist before the box pleated skirt flares out like a bell, aided by an in-built net underskirt. Incredibly, as this often isn’t the case with many dresses, and even rarer so with occasion dresses, this dress has pockets–yes, yes, clap if you will, it does deserve raucous applause.
I wear a 20 in TPDC’s pieces so that’s what I ordered here. The waist flat measures 39 inches with stretch to 42, thanks to the velvet, while the bust flat measures roughly 44 inches with stretch to about 48 inches (I found that measurement a bit tricky to take thanks to the neckline.) Those measurements make this dress true to size, so if you’re new to TPDC and eyeing a Tilly up in the sale then you can feel confident following the size chart. The skirt is 26 inches long. The off-the-shoulder sleeves feature elastication inside the lining which runs from bodice edge to bodice edge, so there’s 2 inches of stretch available in the sleeves to help give you the perfect fit. I have large upper arms and found the sleeves perfectly comfortable, so I think they’ve been graded up well through the plus sizes. The dress is fully lined and has a decent heft to it, thanks to the quality construction and amount of velvet used, so it feels like a substantial, top grade item that will last and last. All of The Pretty Dress Company’s pieces are designed and made in the UK.
Part of me hoped the bow on the sleeves might be easily removable, even if it meant snipping and then redoing a couple stitches when necessary, as I would’ve loved to be able to layer cardigans over this dress to get more casual wear out of it in winter. However the bows are not stitched onto the sleeves but are actually created by the sleeves, with two ends overlapping and stitched into the bow shape, so it’s worth noting that any layering will have to be done beneath the dress or with more substantial fabrics over it that won’t show the bulge of the bows. Still, that slight restriction in versatility is more than made up for by the sheer glamour and elegance of this piece, which is bound to function in your wardrobe as a special occasion go-to that will always make you feel confident and stylish.
The Tilly Prom Dress comes in crepe and velvet fabric options, in more than 15 colours in UK sizes 6-22, as well as in tartan swing versions, and in a pencil dress version made in several colours. The Pretty Dress company ship worldwide, and have select stockists around the globe.
Disclaimer: I bought the dress featured in this review, but The Pretty Dress Company have gifted me other items for review in the past. The shoes featured as part of this outfit were previously bought with a discount code provided to me as part of an influencer program. 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 alone and safely in a secluded outdoors area with no other individuals present, thus practising social distancing measures in a bid to help reduce the spread of Covid-19.