A couple days ago I shared with you Dolly & Dotty’s leopard print Lily dress. I really tried to emphasise that it could be styled both up or down, but at the end of the day we all have dress cuts we gravitate towards and if Lily didn’t tick your personal box then that’s okay. Buuuut, saying that, I don’t think that necessarily means Dolly & Dotty’s leopard print isn’t for you, because it’s a delightfully understated leopard print (as far as leopard prints ever can be, really,) and they utilise it in several other clothing items. Today I wanted to show you another of the options, just because I love this li’l lep so much. Shirtwaister fans, this one’s for you–let’s look at Penelope!
I love shirt dresses, yet I don’t often reach for them. As a plus size gal with chubby upper arms it can sometimes be an issue to find shirt dresses that have the right sleeve length and adequate room in said sleeves to keep me comfortable emotionally and physically throughout a day’s wear. My instinct is typically to cover up my upper arms, an instinct I know many of us have, and so I almost always want to add a layer over short sleeves to feel more confident. For 90% of the year here in often-chilly, regularly-damp England, that works perfectly because layers are practically required, but during a rare heatwave that means my physical comfort can sometimes war with my more tender insecurities. I don’t think that’s right and I think it sucks that many of us harbour such sad concerns about some areas of our flesh suits that have no reflection upon how incredible we are as people, but I’m just being honest and realistic here.
So, saying all that, I was thrilled to put on this Penelope shirt dress to find that while the sleeves are short, they’re not too short. They don’t stop right above the widest part of the upper arm, so they don’t inadvertently highlight that area. The fact that this particular Penelope dress is leopard print adds an additional layer of camouflage because the pattern keeps the eye busy. Together, those facets mean this is probably the first shirt dress I’ve worn in a long time that I’ve felt fully comfortable to wear as is, no layering necessary. In body confidence terms, I would feel entirely happy to throw this dress on and head straight out the door; in outfit terms, I love that it’s an instant outfit, casual yet interesting enough by itself to be thrown on without needing to get overly creative with accessories and hair styles to create a look. It is possible to create a look, of course, and I’ll have tons of fun doing so in future, but a dress hanging in one’s wardrobe that can be donned with only a 5 minute warning text or call is always a useful thing for a person to own.
For those of you who don’t have arm hang-ups, Penelope still has plenty to offer. As a shirt dress it’s a laid-back and simple dress that can be worn day in and out. The functioning buttons run right up to the collar, so you can wear it fully buttoned for a more modest look or pop a button or two, as I have, to create a little space in a V-neck. The edge of the collar, sleeves and button placket are all trimmed in black piping, a small finishing detail that adds a touch of polish, and it comes with a contrasting thin red grommet belt (which I swapped out here for a black leather belt, to stay in neutral mode.)
While the buttons are functional, the dress does still have a side zip, a feature I love because it means I can create maximum room through the bodice and head hole for easy movement, making it less likely I’ll mess up my hair or smudge my makeup onto the collar while putting it on. It’s knee length on me, standing at 5ft 7. It definitely has that diner dress vibe that I’m sure will make it a solid pick for rockabilly lovers, and I think this particular leopard print will look great on everyone. If you don’t love leopard print, though, Penelope is available in 5 solid colours, a gingham and a polka dot print, so there are plenty of other options that might better suit your taste.
I can typically fit a size 18 from Dolly & Dotty as long as there’s stretch in the fabric so there’s room for my bust, but I’m not always in the mood for a snug fit, and in non-stretch fabrics a 20 is definitely best. Because of the functional buttons I opted for the 20 for the Penelope dress but this fabric is a soft stretch cotton, so an 18 likely would have fit well for a snug pinup look. The waist flat measures 41 inches with stretch to 45. The bust flat measures 46 inches with stretch to 50. The skirt is 25 inches long. This dress is machine washable.
The Penelope dress comes in UK sizes 8-26, and in 8 different prints and colours. The code ‘Extra20’ will get you 20% off all purchases until Sunday, including sale and the new spring line. Dolly & Dotty ship worldwide.
Disclaimer: The dress featured in this review was gifted to me by Dolly & Dotty in exchange for an honest review. The item marked with an asterix* was 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, practising responsible social distancing to help limit the spread of Covid-19.