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This week I’m reviewing two dresses from Collectif. These particular prints are from a previous year, but these styles are re-released season after season, so I still think this is useful information.
Both dresses are a size UK 12, which is a US 8 or medium. In these photos, I measure 38”-29/30”-42” and height 5’6”. I generally wear bra size UK 28GG/30G, and here I’m wearing an Ewa Michalak PL bra in size 30GG.
First up is the Dolores dress in the “Forest Friends” print. With foxes, deer, bunnies, and falling leaves against a BRIGHT blue background, I just adore this print. Foxes are my favorite animal, so I’m always after clothes covered in them, and blue is my favorite color. It’s perfect!
I previously reviewed the Dolores tops in several different fabrics. This dress is the traditional cotton sateen with a light stretch, made of 97% cotton and 3% elastane, and it fits much the same. The primary difference is that the dress has a horizontal seam at the waist. And, of course, it has a full skirt!
The waist seam sits quite high up on my long torso. However, it’s not pulled up extra high due to my boobs. In fact, I’d say there’s bust room to spare, especially if you look at the bit of empty fabric below my boobs.
As with the Dolores tops, the cap sleeves are set very wide, which means you have to wear a bra with wide-set straps or push them over and tuck them in. In the photo just above, you can still see a sliver of my red bra strap sticking out despite my best efforts.
Due to the high waist seam, I tend to wear this dress with a navy blue belt set just below the seam, to enhance my waist a little more. But otherwise, I think it’s basically a perfect fit and is definitely a bust-friendly find.
Next up is the Caterina pencil dress. The Caterina is a shirt-dress available in a swing and a pencil cut, and is released in new colors and weights pretty much every season. I’ve eyed the swing version for many years, but have read conflicting advice as to whether you need to size up for the bust or not.
For some reason, this fall I got it into my head that I needed to own a black and red plaid dress. Then in a Facebook group for swapping and selling Collectif clothing, a gal in the UK was selling a red and navy plaid pencil Caterina for a great price. Even with international shipping, it was a good deal, and the “navy” looked almost black against the bright red, so I went for it. And I’m so glad I did!
Caterina buttons halfway down the dress. I’m wearing it with the topmost button closed; it does not close all the way up to the neck. It has a narrow lapel collar and functional front pockets on the hip that also close with a little button. The pockets are just tall enough to completely fit an iPhone 7/8/SE without it sticking out the top.
This print is made of 98% polyester, 2% elastane, feels a bit like flannel, and has no stretch (though some give). It’s actually pretty boob-friendly, especially for a button-up style. There are deep (though slightly high) darts on each side and at the waist, and the buttons are both close together and placed well so as not to gap open at the fullest point of the bust. I think it also helps that the fabric is slightly thick and not stretchy.
However, the waist is a bit loose if you want a very fitted look. On me, it’s also slightly too high, but if I move the belt loops lower (as I’m wont to do), then I’m afraid the belt will interfere with the pockets, so I’ll probably just live with it as is.
As well, since my butt starts lower than the dress’s shape, I end up with quite a bit of excess fabric just below my waist in back. This would be an easy tailoring fix, though. Since there are darts at the back of the waist, I could just take those in a little further to contour it more. But honestly, I think it looks fine as it is and likely won’t attempt that either unless I get a dress form for Christmas this year (fingers crossed!). It’s too much of a pain to alter back darts without a proper mannequin.
One other thing to note is that the belt is massively long. I wonder if they just made fewer belt sizes than dress sizes to save time and cost. You can see in this next photo that the end of the belt wraps beyond the next belt loop and all the way around onto the backside. Plus, it’s a slide belt with no prong and holes and no loop to tuck the end into. As a slide belt, it doesn’t stay tight, but rather loosens up with the slightest movement. Since I want it cinched in, I use a flat tie tack pin to hold the far end in place.
Finally, Collectif did such a nice job with pattern matching that you can totally wear it without the belt and it still looks amazing:
Collectif currently offers the Caterina pencil dress in numerous prints and fabrics, including several plaid varieties. Every year, they have a sitewide 50% off sale on Boxing Day (day after Christmas), so if you’ve got your eye on one, I’d suggest waiting a few more weeks to purchase.