I’ve always loved the fully glamorous, utterly chic side of the mid-century aesthetic more than the more casual day-to-day or rockabilly styles. I love dressing vintage but you still won’t really catch me in capri pants or high-waisted jeans because I just don’t feel comfortable in them. That means than when an occasion truly calls for a casual vibe, or when I simply don’t want to expend much effort, I end up casting a glance across my many, many dresses and wondering which of them would work for the most easy-going outfit. Obviously tons of my dresses can be dressed up as well as down, but the block tends to be more mental, owing more to my brain going ‘aww, I love that dress…but I don’t wanna wear it casually, I wanna be fancy!’ like a toddler determined to accompany you to the supermarket dressed as a princess. So, it just works better to have some options in my wardrobe that my brain automatically categorises as casual. My brain, therefore, was very happy to meet this Sonia dress, an option that is undeniably casual and cute!
Dress: Sonia Day dress in Grey Leopard print gifted by Dolly & Dotty
Bangles: Old black style by Splendette / Similar
Hat: 1950s Cartwheel hat previously gifted by Unique Vintage
Shoes: Black Palmas wedges by HotterShoes: Black Palmas wedges by Hotter
There’s so much about this dress that I love; the two tiered ruffled skirt, because I love me a tiered skirt; the elasticated neckline which allows you to wear the sleeves on or off the shoulders, for versatility in both temperature control and sex appeal; how lightweight the fabric is, making it my dream dress to pull out during a heatwave (I am one of those pale Brits who hides from the sun, not rushes out to gleefully get burned the second it hits 18°c ); the fact that the leopard print is grey toned–I don’t have any other pieces in grey leopard print, immediate bonus! Oh, and the pockets, I could never forget the pockets.
Altogether this dress is a relaxed summery dream for me, and I’m sure it will be for many others. I should note for those of you who may be leopard adverse that this dress does come in 4 other prints, including red gingham, a pink tartan, and both blue and red polka dots, so there are other fun options should you require them (or should you simply want it in every colour.)
Clearly this dress looks fabulous styled with a full vintage aesthetic, but for me this dress is the ultimate low-effort option, in the best possible way. My brain tends to function in two modes only, maximum effort or no effort at all. That works fine for me day to day, because I can go to work in jeans and no makeup with no problem, before changing into the baggiest sweats possible when I get home. That allows me to save all my I Must Be Presentable For The Outside World energy purely for social occasions when it then becomes fun for me to switch into maximum effort mode to craft and enjoy my chosen vintage aesthetic. If I had a job that required me to be presentable for a public facing position I suspect I would enjoy getting dressed up much less for social occasions, as my glamour energy would be dwindled by my daily morning routine. As it stands, I’m lucky I get to function in the two modes that work best for my mindset and comfort zone. That does mean the middle ground doesn’t feel comparably as fun for me, though, for occasions when my PJs aren’t an option but my full 50s glam isn’t practical or appropriate.
The issue is that it’s not uncommon for me to feel that some of my dresses will only look good worn with a vintage brush-out, not because that’s actually true, but just because that’s the way I know I will feel my best when wearing it, and I’m used to dressing to feel my absolute best. For middle ground occasions, I have to override my maximum effort impulse and select a dress that I will feel happy wearing with non-vintage hair and/or the makeup. Achieving a vintage hairstyle requires me to wash my easily-tangled naturally curly hair before wetsetting it into pincurls–to override my natural curl patterns–and leave it to dry overnight for 12+ hours before I can brush it out in the morning. For middle ground occasions, I either have to feel happy wearing my natural curls down, pinned up into a messy bun, or totally obscured by my favourite cheat style, a clip in ponytail. This Sonia dress, with its chilled vibe, will look good worn with all those hairstyles, and indeed many others if I enjoyed doing my hair enough to add further hairstyles to my repertoire–alas, I do not, and so Sonia will likely be worn with a handful of hairstyles but will look equally as lovely with them all.
This dress is a very comfortable wear, thanks to the airy fabric and the sleeves being wearable on or off shoulders. Those puffed half sleeves mean those of us (myself included) who feel self-conscious in sleeveless dresses can happily rock this dress when it’s warm without having to give a second thought to upper arm coverage. You could wear a slim volume petticoat under the skirt should you wish, but part of what I love about ruffled tiered skirts is they have a lovely shape when worn alone, as I have done here. It is, simply put, a great staple dress, that will likely be worn again and again, and that fact that it can function as a middle ground dress for me as well as a maximum effort option makes me love it all the more.
I asked for the Sonia dress in the 20 because it’s made from a non-stretch fabric–I tend to size up into non-stretch pieces from Dolly & Dotty, and can sometimes size down into an 18 in stretchy pieces if they’ll accommodate my bust. I wanted extra room through the waist so it would be an airy wear during very hot weather, as tight seams and waistbands during heatwaves just make me uncomfortable. This dress appears to be cut more generously than their other pieces, however, so it might not be necessary for you to size up if you sometimes do, because the waist flat measures 44 inches on this leopard Sonia in the 20. Because the style of this dress is more relaxed it doesn’t look odd to cinch the waist in for a tighter fit with a belt, as I have done for these pictures and likely will do all non-heatwave wears. The bust flat measures 45 inches but has plenty of extra room beyond that thanks to the elastic in the neckline, so it will work for fuller busts, as well providing easy access for folks who’re breast-feeding. The skirt is 27.75 inches long.
The Sonia Floaty Day Dress is available in UK sizes 8-26 in 5 different prints, and is on sale at the moment for only £15! Absolute bargain. Dolly & Dotty ship worldwide
Disclaimer: The dress featured in this review was gifted to me by Dolly and Dotty in exchange for an honest review. Other items listed as previously gifted were honestly reviewed for past blog posts. 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 or passing, thus practising strict social distancing measures in an effort to help reduce the spread of Covid-19.