Wrap It Up [Unique Vintage]

It’s not often I reach for anything other than a full-skirted 50s dress. Even all the beautiful gathered border print skirts I own get massively overlooked, because wearing a dress is just so much easier than pairing together separates. Dresses always come across as effort intensive and fancy to people who don’t often wear them, but those of us with a closet full of dresses know the secret truth: they are the laziest, easiest way to look put together with almost no effort. With my 50s style swing dresses, that just means zipping one up and tugging on a fluffy petticoat underneath.

Wiggle dresses, admittedly, are more effort intensive for me, because then I’ve got to think about shapewear and smooth lines and blah blah blah, hey, are you eating fries right now? Oh man, can I have one please?

Yeah, you get it. So you’d think, realistically, that I would make time for dresses that occupy that vintage-style middleground instead to give me more variety, the dresses that don’t cling to you but also don’t puff away from you, sucking up everyone else’s personal space. The dresses that fall in swishy, neat pleats, that float gently about the knees, that fall rather than poof. You would think. Somehow, I just forget about them. I think I’m so used to bold prints, bright colours and drastic silhouettes that I just overlook the softer, sleeker, gentler side of vintage fashion. But each time I do opt for something more in that vein, perhaps a 40s style dress, the people I encounter seem to adore it.

‘Oh my God, I love this look on you!’ they say, as I wrinkle my brow quizzically, smoothing the material out over my body, asking ‘Really?’ in almost self-conscious confusion. The first time, I figured maybe it was that specific dress. But each time it happened, in a new dress no less, I begun to wonder if maybe that silhouette simply suited me more than I realised. And as I appraised those styles more closely I realised one thing; y’all, they are the most lazily easy to wear dresses of all. Jackpot!

Wrap dresses have to win in this category, hands down. Any dress that emphasises your waist, embraces your bust and floats gracefully down from your hips is going to be a winner on pretty much every body type, and the most beautiful thing of all is that wrap dresses are usually pretty stretchy. Hello comfort, hello bangin’ bod! And hello Unique Vintage, with this Kelsie wrap dress that finally brought me to these most beautiful realisations once and for all.

Unique Vintage Kelsie Wrap Dress Unique Vintage Kelsie Wrap Dress Unique Vintage Kelsie Wrap DressUnique Vintage Kelsie Wrap DressUnique Vintage Kelsie Wrap DressUnique Vintage Kelsie Wrap DressUnique Vintage Kelsie Wrap DressUnique Vintage Kelsie Wrap DressUnique Vintage Kelsie Wrap DressUnique Vintage Kelsie Wrap Dress Unique Vintage Kelsie Wrap Dress

Dress: Navy Polka Dot Kelsie dress C/O Unique Vintage
Shoes: Daffodil Whiskey shoes by Restricted
Bag: Erin wicker bag by Dancing Days/Banned

This dress is definitely a One Dress That Does It All piece. It’s flattering but also modest, stylish but also simple, vintage inspired but also modern passing, so it’s easy to wear almost anywhere for that perfectly balanced level of ‘I look great!’ without screaming ‘look at me!’–unless you want it to. Work appropriate, this style can still just as easily be dressed up for dinner out, worn simply for a day running errands, donned for meeting your partner’s parents, worn to pop to the farmers market, flaunted for–well, you get the point. It’s simple enough you can style it up or down just by considering a few accessories, and in addition to all that it’s so stupidly comfortable. Given it’s made from a soft quality stretch knit blend that’s no surprise, but still, it makes me intensely happy each time I sit down while wearing it and realise ‘oh yeah, this doesn’t make me feel like the waistband is cutting my stomach in half. Awesome!‘ The fabric isn’t a thin flimsy knit either, with enough weight to the material that it feels reassuring while wearing it, another plus.

The dress features three quarter length sleeves, the most universally flattering length, and has a pleated, lined V-neck crossover bust. Being a wrap dress, the waist obviously ties with an attached fabric belt, but I appreciate that it has a slim tie on the inner wrap that allows you to secure it in place, much like dressing gowns do, before you then wrap over the front layer and tie up the belt fully. My fear with wrap dresses is always that I might at some point come undone somehow and end up flashing everyone, well, everything, but in this style I feel thankfully safe and secure. The unlined skirt floats around your knees as you walk, but there is room for a slim volume petticoat if you want just a little lift away from your legs, as I’ve shown in the pictures above.

Regarding sizing, I knew I would most likely fit in the XL for this piece but I wasn’t certain exactly how stretchy the fabric would be so I decided to play it safe with the 2X. My bust is 45 inches, technically putting in me in the 3X rather than the 2X, but the waist would have swamped me in that size. It was the idea of the dress struggling on my broad shoulders and large upper arms that made me size up from XL to 2X; tight shoulder seams make me hunch my shoulders and flex my back in discomfort all day long, sometimes so badly I actually strain my shoulder muscles, so these days in sleeved dresses I size up for comfort in that area, knowing I can alter the waist if need be for a closer fit. Since this dress is plenty stretchy, even in its medium weight knit, the size chart holds pretty true, with perhaps some additional leeway to nudge it nearer to sizing large. My 45 bust fits it without any problem and I feel a larger bust could probably fit in this size still without there being an issue, though the more you test the measurements in the bust the more cleavage you will find on display. Since it’s a wrap style the waist is adjustable, so to speak, up to a certain point. Overall, I would advise you to buy your usual Unique Vintage size or possibly to size down, depending on what kind of fit you’re looking to achieve in the style.

Since this dress has taught me that wrap styles are the easiest of all dresses to wear, ever, ever, I can tell I’ll be reaching for this dress constantly when I need to get quickly out the door or guarantee my comfort over a long day. It’s nice to know, however, that even after prioritising ease and comfort over style, no one else will be able to tell that the latter wasn’t my number one consideration. Feeling comfy and looking good all at the same time? I’m sold!

The Kelsie wrap dress comes in navy and green polka dot prints and a fun lipstick print in sizes XS-4X for $78. Unique Vintage ship internationally,

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.


Tigerlily and I say be happy and rock your outfit!