Off the Rack ~ Retrospec’d “Elizabeth” Dress Reviewed

I’m so excited to share a new (semi-) bust-friendly brand with Hourglassy readers: It’s Australian vintage reproduction brand Retrospec’d. I just discovered them a couple weeks ago when someone posted a pair of their dresses for sale in one of my Facebook sell/swap groups. Though they were size XS, the construction looked strikingly boob-friendly and I navigated to the brand’s website straightaway.

That’s when I laid eyes upon one of the most lovely dresses I’ve ever seen:

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Readers, I was totally smitten. I clicked around the website until I found the dress—the Elizabeth in Gay Paris print. At first the price seemed prohibitive. $190??? But then I remembered that the American dollar is quite strong against the Australian dollar, and in US dollars that would be about $148. Still not “cheap,” to be sure, but about the same range as many other vintage repro brands such as Pinup Girl Clothing, Tatyana, and Heart of Haute.

Next I checked out the size chart—and couldn’t believe my eyes! The Australian 10 matched my measurements almost perfectly. But…I’m always a 12 in Australian and UK sizes (which is the same as a US 8 / Medium). Size 10 couldn’t be right, could it? Especially since all the other dresses’ size charts put me in a 12 (or none at all, depending on that garment’s particular measurements).

Feeling conflicted about sizing, I was wary of ordering. Shipping from Australia is pricey and slow, and I knew it wouldn’t be worth it to attempt an exchange. Luckily, a lovely gal in one of my Facebook groups pointed me toward a stockist in the US, Bygones Vintage in Richmond, VA. Since it’s a brick-and-mortar store, I called and asked them to measure the actual waist of the dress in size US 6 and 8. The 6 was 29.5 inches—a quarter-inch over my exact waist size! So I placed the order through them and the dress was in my hands a mere 3 days later.

Readers, this dress fits like a dream. With my waist measuring just over 29 inches, and most size charts usually listing medium at 28-29 and large at 30-31, I always have to choose between slightly too small or slightly too big. But this dress is perfect. And it actually has room for boobs! Further, the straps are wide enough and in the ideal placement to cover my bra straps (I’m wearing a Comexim plunge in Polish size 60J [about a UK 28GG] in these photos).

Additionally, the cotton is a fantastic weight. It has enough heft that it doesn’t feel cheap (*cough* Bernie Dexter *cough*), but is still light and airy enough for a hot summer day. And while most of my poofy skirts are gathered, this one is pleated, giving it lots of volume without blowing up and flashing my underwear with every gust of wind.

The print is a gorgeous lavender base with peach and red details, featuring a scene of a painter sitting along the water’s edge in Paris, trees in the foreground and the Eiffel Tower in the distance. It’s an unexpected color combination that works so well—and perfectly matches my lavender heels!

So let’s get to some photos, shall we??

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Now, while the Elizabeth has up to nearly an 8-inch difference between the waist and bust, many of the brand’s other styles do not. In fact, some are downright tiny in the bust. There are a lot of different styles, so I’ve compiled a list here of each style and its waist-to-bust difference in inches (in size Aus 12 / Medium), with the biggest difference at the top. With my 8-inch difference, I’d probably avoid anything with less than 7 inches. So I guess there aren’t really that many big-bust options here…but the Elizabeth is so lovely and has enough prints to tide me over!

Avita – 11
Josie – 9
Kathy – 7.9
Kelly – 5.9-7.9 (this one lists a range for the bust due to stretch)
Norma Jean – 5.9-7.9 (stretch)
Elizabeth – 5.9-7.9 (this one’s range is due to fabric gathering at the bust, no stretch)
Ruby – 3.5-7.5 (stretchy shirred back panel)
Sandi – 3.5-7.5 (stretchy shirred back panel)
Sarong – 3.5-7.5 (stretchy shirred back panel)
Bella – 7.1
Kathleen – 7.1
Wendy – 5.1-7.1 (stretch)
1943 – 6.7
Betty – 6.7
Connie – 6.7
Gidget – 6.7
Suzie – 6.7
Lori – 6.3
Audrey – 5.9
Peggy – 5.9
Sophia – 5.9
Tammy – 5.9
Betty Rose – 3.9-5.9 (stretch)
Lilli – 5.5
Dyann – 5.1
Sun Dress – 5.1
Valerie – 5.1
Ella – 4.7
Laura – 4.7
Sammy – 4.7
Empire – 4.3
Vivian – 4.3
Ingrid – No size chart

 

Comments

  1. Ooh, pretty!

    Is the cut of the bodice over your bust slightly curved? I’ve been trying to think how to sew a faux wrap dress without massive amounts of cleavage and it seems like that works.