If you clicked on the Paige dress when I wrote about Bitter Lollipop last month and thought, “I would get a lot of wear out of that dress”, you were 100% correct. In fact, the Paige is one of Bitter Lollipop’s bestsellers, so there are a lot of smart women with the same idea.
When I slipped this column dress on for the first time, the streamlined fit was exactly what I’d hoped for: curve-friendly yet not clingy. The sleeves are my favorite length, and the neckline, while completely cleavage-free, avoids looking too austere by resting at my upper balance point and being wider than the widest part of my face (here’s my recent write-up about how we can wear any neckline as long as it meets two criteria).
On sale for approximately $70 and full price for over $100, you may wonder whether spending so much on a simple knit dress is a good allocation of your clothing budget. Wearing the Paige feels like a resounding YES to the question, but I asked Kelly Roberts for help pinpointing the “why” behind the feeling. Here’s her answer:
The problem I usually see with high street dresses is that even if you can find something that fits, they noticeably stretch over the bust. It can make you look like you’re about to burst out and just generally makes the dress fit poorly. (Think about what happens when we try to wear t-shirts with writing on the front!) Personally, I feel a lot more comfortable wearing something that’s designed to fit my body type, rather than trying to squeeze into something.
Side gathers are how Kelly creates enough room for the bust. Given how much I hate the Strum Strum Factor, I can’t believe I needed Kelly to spell things out for me. After she answered my question, I put on the dress again, and sure enough–NO STRUM STRUM. You’ll see in the photo with the camel blazer below that the guitar string effect does occasionally appear across my chest, but it isn’t the constant that it is in knits that aren’t made to accommodate my bust.
I’ve had good luck with two jacket finds recently, and now that it’s turning cool, I decided to style the Paige with them as well.
As you can see, Kelly also has gathers for the stomach area that I appreciate. When I’m wearing this dress, I feel sleek and forget about my paunch. If I think about it, I remember all the other women I’ve admired in body con dresses who didn’t care if their stomachs weren’t perfectly flat. I have to admit, however, that I prefer my profile wearing the Fraulein Annie cinching panty in the second photo from the top.
Here’s the Paige with my second jacket find.
I continue to have mixed feelings about voluminous sleeves with a big bust, but there’s no denying that they help this jacket button completely. More on that soon.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of styling options with this dress. It’s a true blank slate for a plethora of looks, both casual and formal. I didn’t even try it with a belt . . . or a denim jacket . . . or boots . . . or . . . or . . . .
The only disappointment for me is that the fabric is on the thin side. I imagine that a slightly heavier weight (or even a double layer of the current fabric down the front) would help the dress skim over some of my bulges. Also, after wearing the dress all day under my Express jacket, I was surprised to find pilling beginning where the hem of the jacket rubbed the top of my thighs.
Kelly’s reason for the fabric choice makes sense. She liked that it felt “soft and breathable”, and I agree. When the weather is hot, I certainly won’t be complaining about the lighter weight. And there’s a new red version of the Paige called the Elena that comes in a ponti roma jersey that is heavier and of a higher quality (part of the reason that the Elena costs approximately $138).
It’s always a risk to try a new full bust designer’s clothing, especially when it involves overseas shipping, so I’m super grateful to to Kelly for removing my risk by sending me these samples to review. I hope my own excellent experience with Bitter Lollipop will give you the confidence you need to add one of Kelly’s dresses to your shopping cart the next time you visit her site!